Everyone remembers the valiant heroes, the complex anti-heroes and the exciting but oddly alluring villains. Every gaming narrative’s backbone is built upon these outstanding entities, but there is much more to every story: so many more characters; characters that give real flesh to the world in which they reside.
Their roles vary; maybe their role is to give clarity to the player to know where they have to go, what they have to do and how to do it. Maybe they complement or contrast the protagonist and their world, or perhaps their role is just to ask you for a nice game of bowling after a hard day of simulated violence. Here is a list (that is obviously conclusively and objectively true) of our top 10 supporting characters in video games…
10. Luigi (Super Mario Bros.)
Luigi is in this list as he popularised the ability to have a friend or younger sibling play as your supporting character. Let’s be clear, even with the year of Luigi and games such as Luigi’s Mansion and Super Luigi U, Super Mario Bros is still, and always will be, all about Mario. Luigi as a character is just there to help Mario get to his princess and is therefore just a playable supporting character. He is just a vassal for his portly brother, used as a shield against various turtle-based enemies.
In terms of skill, Luigi is toe-to-toe with his brother but suffers from the unfortunate ailment known as “controller 2 syndrome”. Mario is better just because he is controlled by the first controller. The older sibling will be Mario and you, as the younger child, can be Luigi – providing you don’t get in my way. Luigi epitomises the idea of the second player; the lovable but totally expendable supporting character.
9. Dogmeat (Fallout series)
As far as companions go, you cannot beat a loyal and brave dog. This Fallout mainstay has warmed many hearts and carried a lot of loot for many wasteland wanderers. The importance of Dogmeat in the Fallout universe is so high that they used it as a selling point in the recent Fallout 4 adverts. It could be seen to be a bit too much to focus on one companion, especially considering the opposition: Fawkes, Nick Valentine and Cait to mention just a few personal favourites. These companions may have all the great lines and can make taken on the wasteland so much easier – but they aren’t Dogmeat.
Dogmeat will be the perfect companion. He is simply man’s (or woman’s) best friend. He will do anything for you. In the early games he was also an absolute tank of a companion: after seeing him hilariously scare Junktown native Phil, you can recruit him. Without him tearing up raiders and ghouls alike I don’t think me and my podcast co-hosts would’ve survived the Fallout wasteland. So thank you Dogmeat; you have earned your place on this list.