25 most perfect Nintendo partners
23rd Sep 2012 | 16:00
From pirate leader to princess
Rivalling Skyward Sword's fearless heroine as our favourite Zelda, Tetra gets the nod for her feisty spirit, her sense of adventure, and the fact that we've had three games to get to know her. Sure, she may not have had a great deal of screentime in Phantom Hourglass, but in Four Swords Adventures's Japan-only Navi Trackers mode she's a wonderfully exuberant host, babbling cheerfully away over one of the best multiplayer games we've played.
02. ADMIRAL BOBBERY
A sad-eyed sea dog with a tragic tale to tell
Quite aside from being an explosive ally in GameCube favourite The Thousand-Year Door (his Bob-ombast move can blow up several enemies at once), Bobbery makes our list for his heartbreaking backstory. Having abandoned his seafaring ways following the death of his beloved Scarlette, he agrees to join Paper Mario's quest for the fifth Crystal Star only after the discovery of a letter from his late wife, imploring him not to "lose both your life's loves". Do excuse us - we've got a bit of nitrocellulose powder in our eyes.
03. LUIS SERA
Resi 4's cocksure sidekick can certainly wield a pistol
The laid-back Spaniard provides some much-needed light relief from the near-constant threat of death by farmyard tools in Shinji Mikami's GameCube masterpiece. He doesn't appear to be entirely focused on the job, mind, preferring to offer saucy observations on the assets of president's daughter Ashley. He's packing a few baleestics of his own, mind, shooting up a storm in the incredible barn siege set-piece before his cameo is tragically ended, with bad guy Osmund Saddler turning his innards into Ganado tapas. Adios, amigo.
Hootie hoo! Let's hear it for Crosso's charming curator
Animal Crossing's museum owner may speak in gibberish, but if he didn't we reckon he'd have a clipped upper-class English accent. There's certainly something about his idiosyncratic yet eloquent speech patterns that suggests a classic British eccentric in the mould of Terry Thomas or Leslie Phillips. You can't help but admire his dedication, too: making himself available 24/7 - even if he regularly falls asleep on the job - is tricky for a nocturnal creature. But whether offering thoughtful facts on fish, or horror-stricken observations on the bugs he so despises, this hard-working owl is an absolute hoot.
Zack's simian sidekick is a perma-happy helper
Capcom's unfairly ignored adventure Zack and Wiki - which still offers some of the Wii's most inventive motion controls - stars cheeky monkey Wiki as the perkiest of assistants to pirate hero Zack. He offers regular advice and encouragement on the quest for Barbaros' treasure, and even sacrifices himself near the end for the sake of his chum [Spoilers! - Ed] but don't worry! He turns up very much alive and well [Spoilers!!!! - Ed]. But really, his official description captures his unique appeal best: "Wiki is a golden helicopter monkey that can turn into a bell". Need we say more?
06. LOUIS DENONNO
An ex-con with a heart of gold
Hotel Dusk's surly detective Kyle Hyde is at his best at his most grumpy, so the arrival of ex-pickpocket DeNonno is a masterstroke. By the end they've forged an unlikely alliance, with DeNonno's clumsy attempts to woo the ethereal Mila adding a note of levity to the compelling mystery.
Persia's princess is a match for her male counterpart
Far more than just the simple damsel in distress of the original games, The Sands Of Time's Princess Farah emerges as a fully-formed character. Her romance with the prince feels natural and unforced, and she's an important piece of many environmental puzzles. You'll need to look after her on occasion, but it never feels like a chore. Much of that is down to how well she's integrated into the game's story and systems, making her one of the most likeable NPCs ever.
Skyward Sword's bully turns out to be a hero
An hour into Link's most recent adventure you'll have this red-haired berk pegged as nothing more than an irritant; an oafish dolt who has a Chilfos in Eldin's chance of usurping the pointy-eared protagonist in Zelda's affections. What follows is one of the series' greatest character arcs, as he turns from zero to hero, helping Link defeat The Imprisoned and saving the princess's life. He jokingly talks up his role at the close of the game, suggesting the story be titled The Legend Of Groose. Now there's a game we'd like to see.
09. ISAAC WASHINGTON
He's had it with these melon farming zombies
Responsible for more swears than your average football racism trial, detective Washington proves a hilariously profane foil to the rather more reserved G. Using the delightful phrase ['muddy funster' - Ed] in every chapter, his unrelenting barrage of f-bombs helped House Of The Dead Overkill earn an official Guinness World Record for the most curse words ever spoken in a videogame.
10. TELLY VISION
Robo-love for a coward
One half of one of gaming's most underrated double acts, Telly offers useful tips throughout Chibi-Robo. But what really makes him so adorable is the wonderful blend of humour and pathos he brings with his karaoke interludes, regularly attempting to practice singing his self-penned song Teriyaki Blues only to be rudely interrupted, usually by a falling pan. So the moment he finally gets to croon the entire ballad - sporting a cardboard tuxedo - is an oddly touching one.
11. FONDUE AND MARIE
If Rhythm Thief stole your heart, it's thanks to these two
One is a lovely, enormously likeable Brit who can play a mean violin solo. The other is a dog who rhythmically rips meat to bits. Together they're two charming allies for art thief Raphael in Sega's Parisian musical. In a Layton-like plot, the willowy Marie makes for a more appealing foil than the Prof's Cockney pal Luke, while Fondue proves an endearingly brave and loyal canine chum. We can't pick a favourite so - cop-out time! - we'll let both of them on to our list.
12. DICK GUMSHOE
Phoenix's pal has the Wright stuff
Gumshoe is a clumsy idiot whose inability to do his own job properly makes him a laughing stock among his peers. No idea why we empathise so much with him, but there you go. Even when he's actually proving a hindrance to the investigations of his spiky legal buddy, his wonky non sequiturs and love of food make him a charming, if obstructive, companion. Bonus points for building the Blue Badger too, obviously.
13. SEBASTIAN TUTE
Wii Music's maestro
Ol' Tutey is a hard taskmaster, admonishing you for not doing better even as he praises your interpretations of famous tunes. But here's something about his words that makes learning how to parp out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that much more fun.
Because every dead dog has his day. And bones are no problem
Ghost Trick's spectral protagonist may be the wiry Sissel, but its true hero is the courageous, ebullient Missile, a Pomeranian pooch unwilling to let a pesky inconvenience such as his own death get in the way of a desire to help others. Missile carks it twice during Shu Takumi's barking [Dearie me - Ed] adventure, both times coming back with an additional ability. But it's his indomitable spirit and heroic selflessness that resonate most of all.
We're hooked on this cloudy charmer
Pay no heed to his gittish pals who pick the most perfectly frustrating times to lob Spinies at Mario - we're talking about Mario Kart's kindly race-starter, who's ever-ready to help out any karter in trouble. Not only will he handily tell you when you're going the wrong way, he'll fish you out of water, lava or even seemingly bottomless voids - for a small fee, natch. If that wasn't enough, Miyamoto loves him, too. "He seems to be very free, floating in the air, going anywhere," the great man once pondered.
A goddess in every sense
The sparky exchanges and obvious chemistry between Pit and the Goddess of Light in Kid Icarus Uprising bring about the same goofy grins from the player as watching two Hollywood greats flirt and bicker on the silver screen. Palutena is kind, witty and playful, and her conversations with the winged wonder provide plenty of charm in Sakurai's dizzyingly inventive actioner.
Phantom's lovable rogue floats our boat
Perhaps it's Link's silent stoicism that brings out the best in the characters around him, and Phantom Hourglass's Linebeck is no exception. He's the Jack Sparrow of the Zelda games: simultaneously greedy and helpful, cowardly yet enormously likeable. He doesn't stop to thank Link when he frees Linebeck from the Temple of the Ocean King, and slings regular insults at Link's fairy companion Ciela - who gives at least as good as she gets. But in the classic Zelda tradition it doesn't take long before his better traits emerge, and he learns there's more to life than treasure.
18. SAKI AMAMIYA
Brawl's best assist trophy delivers some serious Punishment
Saki's more than capable of taking down some of gaming's biggest enemies in Treasure's lost N64 classic Sin And Punishment, so it's almost unfair to see him relegated to the sidelines in Super Smash Bros Brawl. But when he's finally unleashed? Wowsers. Delivering a thousand cuts with his Cannon Sword before leaping and firing a powerful purple blast, he's one of the most powerful allies you could hope to release.
This rampaging rhino is a powerful ally
DK's rhino buddy is essentially a near-invulnerable vehicle, capable of ploughing through just about any enemy, and also able to smash through walls, revealing hidden areas. He's not a fan of fire, but ignore flaming foes and you've essentially got Mario's starman power-up in beast form. He's also part of one of the funniest glitches in Nintendo history, one which shows DK getting horny in a rather more NSFW kind of way. Google it and laugh/cry/weep as appropriate.
Anime ditz comes good in game form
The Bianca you see in the Pokémon Black and White 'toons can be ignored - the animated version is not a patch on the kindly, realistically gawky teen on your DS screen. Self-aware enough to realise she isn't the world's greatest trainer, she bravely abandons her dream to research Pokémon with Professor Juniper, returning to help the protagonist in the sequel. And those glasses make her look pretty cute.
The puckish princess is Twilight's highlight
Navi? Too naggy. Fi? Too nannying. No, Link's greatest helper is (spoiler alert!) the Twilight Princess herself, Midna. She has a mischievous streak of humour that matches her impish form, and, like Groose, while she's a little annoying for the opening stages, she soon blossoms into one of the most intriguing characters in Zelda history. Her sarcasm grows ever more endearing as the adventure progresses, and before long she has sneakily - and snarkily - wormed her way into the affections of both the player and Link.
Jungle Beat's dorsal delight gets our seal of approval
Apes are hardly the most hydrodynamically inclined of creatures, and Donkey Kong is no exception. In EAD Tokyo's bongo-fuelled platformer, he moves through the wet stuff as if swimming through jelly - incidentally something he tackles later in the game. So there's a genuine rush of empowerment when Orco swims along, DK grasping her fin as the whale speeds through barriers, looping around and making a majestic leap. Pure. Nintendo. Magic.
23. THE PROFESSOR
Contact through the fourth wall
Grasshopper's DS RPG Contact has a smart central conceit that sees a balding boffin directly address the player. Exploration and combat are fairly simple, but it's the interactions with the Professor that keep things interesting. He's the source of much of the self-referential humour.
24. MR SATURN
The Mother of all weird NPCs
Earthbound's mascots have big noses, scruffy whiskers and very little hair. We've no idea why we empathise so much with them. It could be their generosity, or perhaps their relaxed, peace-loving mentality. Or maybe even the fact they brew up a psychotropic brand of coffee. But mostly it's that they say daft things like "boing!" and "zoom!" at the end of sentences.
Another of Blood Edward Island's dark secrets
We miss Cing's capacity to spin a yarn, but most of all we miss their way with characters. Another Code: Two Memories may have brilliant puzzles, but we won't forget the touching tale of a teenage girl and a ghostly boy who help each other uncover the secrets in their pasts. Ashley Robbins might be the lead, but D (short for Daniel) is the beating heart of the narrative, and their farewell scene is easily one of the most moving moments on DS.