Animals make great companions.
Not only are they cute, but sometimes they do the most hilarious things too. And on top of all that they’re also often quite useful – especially in the world of video games. Could you imagine playing Pokémon without Pikachu, for example? It just wouldn’t be the same.
Want more examples? Here are the 10 best animal companions in video games. Just where would we be without them?
1Daxter – Jak & Daxter
Back in 2001, when the PS2 was the height of sophistication, a couple of pals by the name of Jak and Daxter decide to sneak off to Misty Island where Daxter takes an unfortunate tumble into a silo of dark eco. Daxter makes it out of the silo alive, but now in the form of an ottsel; a cross between an otter and a weasel.
It is this transformation that kickstarts the entire Jak and Daxter series, and creates the adventures that we know and love today. Falling into a vat of dark eco and turning into a rodent, however, doesn’t seem to stunt Daxter’s sense of humour; full of sarcasm and dry wit, Daxter is the glue that holds The Precursor Legacy together. Though he doesn’t do much to help out per se, his quips and attitude make a stern and serious Jak more likeable, while also keeping players entertained as they navigate tricky puzzles. Daxter is the character that keeps you sane.
Related: Jak and Daxter: Naughty Dog’s First Foray into Dramatic Storytelling
2Pikachu – the Pokémon series
We’ve all dreamt about having a pet Pokémon in real life, and who better than Pikachu himself?
As Ash Ketchum’s loyal sidekick, Pikachu stole the hearts of 90s kids everywhere. I don’t think I knew anyone at school who didn’t ferociously want their own Pikachu. In fact, many had stuffed toys and figurines that they treasured. [Editor: some still do, she says, lovingly staring at the Detective Pikachu plush sat on her desk…]
Although there are many Pokémon creatures I would prefer as fighters, Pikachu always seemed like the ideal companion. He never left his master’s side, and if you didn’t weep in unison with him when Ash was turned to stone, then quite honestly I think you must be made of stone.
Related: Pokémon Sword Review
3Miles “Tails” Prower – Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog is a truly iconic character in not only the gaming world, but pop culture too. Hell, he’s got his own movie now. But when I was growing up, I always felt a stronger connection to Tails.
Miles “Tails” Prower, known to players as simply “Tails”, is seemingly Sonic’s flying fox best friend… who can fly a plane in addition to being able to carry Sonic over canyons and lakes alike. The Sega Mega Drive was a defining element of my childhood, and playing two-player games was the thing that truly bonded my brother and I – the main one of which was Sonic 2; the one game I, as the eldest, would actively opt to be player 2 in order to play as Tails.
The more I look back on the Sonic games, I realise how integral Tails was to Sonic: there were a lot of times when Tails saved the day when Sonic was rendered useless. He was the ultimate sidekick – because he wasn’t just a novelty, he was a really important character.
4Yoshi – Super Mario World
We all remember the Mario games, but I feel like people tend to forget Yoshi’s humble origins in Super Mario World.
Though it was Mario who saved Yoshi, it is Yoshi who was the real star of the games. Acting as Mario’s steed, Yoshi can not only clear a path for his friends by swallowing enemies and instantly laying them as eggs, he can also gain various powers depending on the enemies he eats. Yoshi is seriously cool when you think about it – he can have almost any power anyone else in the Mario world can have, while carrying a moustachioed plumber on his back and fully degrading any baddie by turning them into eggs.
Despite the fact his attack methods appear to be child friendly and, frankly, a little ridiculous – not to mention that he is extremely cute – Yoshi is actually pretty badass.
Related: The 5 Best Super Mario Games, According to Sales Figures
5Carbuncle – Final Fantasy XV
Originally starting out as a summon, Carbuncle has taken a fair few forms and has had various different spellings to his name, but my favourite has to be the most recent version from Final Fantasy XV.
The Carbuncle in this game is depicted as a white/blue fennec fox with giant ears and a tiny unicorn-like horn made out of ruby on his forehead. Just from looking at him I instantly fell in love (mainly due to my obsession with foxes) but make no mistake – though he may look small and innocent – Carbuncle actually has significant healing powers, and he even saves Noctis from a deadly coma.
Besides, just look at his little face. Who doesn’t love that?
Related: Final Fantasy XV Review
6Dogmeat – Fallout 4
Though he also appeared in Fallout 3, Dogmeat came into his own in Fallout 4. He became a symbol of hope in the wasteland of The Commonwealth. As the Sole-Survivor, it can be an incredibly isolating and scary experience when you first begin to venture out into the world. Once Dogmeat turns up, however, it makes everything that little bit better.
For starters he’s a German Shepherd and as we all know, dogs are the best part of the real world – so a friendly face like that makes a big difference when you are attempting to avoid Deathclaws and the like. He’s also a pretty good fighter, and to top it off, he can pick up any scent and track a man for miles around. This becomes particularly great when the Sole-Survivor is searching for Conrad Kellogg.
Adopting Dogmeat at the Red Rocket Truckstop makes all the difference to Fallout 4’s gameplay, and I highly recommend you keep this good boy around.
7Roach – The Witcher 3
While Roach has been the name of more than one of Geralt’s horses, the bay mare he rides in the Witcher 3 is my favourite.
Named after the fresh water fish, Roach’s namesake gives little away about how great Roach is as a companion. There’s nothing quite like roaming around the gorgeous landscapes of the Continent on horseback. Not only that, but Roach can aid in fights, and there are various pieces of equipment you can pick up that increase certain stats like speed, inventory space, and fear levels.
You can also get some pretty cool matching outfits for Geralt and Roach, and honestly who doesn’t want to coordinate with their steed?
Read more: The 20 Best Characters in The Witcher 3
8Three Tailed Fox – Epistory
Epistory depicts the writing process of a young girl through an unfolding origami world. The protagonist of Epistory rides through this beautiful scenery on the back of an origami three tailed fox – who is never separate from their human companion.
As a typing game, the worry with Epistory was that it would feel like a writing application rather than an immersive game. But the emphasis on player decision making through the endearing perspective of the narrator’s internal thoughts really allows for a deep connection with the characters. The three tailed fox glides across the planes with long, certain strides, and takes the young girl wherever she needs to go – be it a forest, or the inside of a volcano.
Despite the two protagonists being unnamed, it doesn’t make them any less captivating, and any game that can make a three tailed fox the main character while somehow also making them so wonderfully charming is a winner in my book.
9Epona – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Epona is the horse we’re introduced to in Ocarina of Time, who crops up a few more times throughout the Zelda franchise. From her humble beginnings at Lon Lon Ranch, Epona becomes Link’s companion through the magic of song. Unlike many games, we had to work to get Epona – and that work makes her feel so much more special.
Epona and Link have an incredibly unique relationship, and she sticks by him through countless storylines and versions of the Zelda universe. Devoted to the Hero of Time, Epona has become an iconic fan favourite of the series, and has remained a part of the franchise for years and years.
Related: The Best Side Characters in the Legend of Zelda Series
10Shadowmere – Skyrim
Now this may come as a surprise, but I reckon Shadowmere has always been an underrated animal companion. The Dragonborn is given Shadowmere as a means to travel to the Dawnstar Sanctuary in the Dark Brotherhood storyline of Skyrim. If it isn’t cool enough that Shadowmere spawns from a black lake surrounded by smoke, he also has glowing red eyes, extremely fast health regeneration, and he will actively attack nearby enemies before you even spot them. Even dragons. Yes, that’s right, a horse who can take on a dragon.
Shadowmere is badass from beginning to end, and it is unlikely that he will be killed by regular enemies. He’s fast, he looks really damn cool, and he becomes a vital asset to the Dragonborn on their quest to save Tamriel.
Also, if the game glitches, Shadowmere can do things like run up vertical surfaces and even float in mid air. It is the cause of great hilarity within the Skyrim fan community, and there is nothing quite like watching a black assassin horse summoned from the depths face planting off a cliff.
Read more: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Review