Finally first fiddle
Complain though we might about the pains of sequelitis (seriously Assassin's Creed, we're worried about you), we do get pumped at the prospect of spin-offs where our favorite second bananas get some time in the spotlight. Yoshi, Clank, Raiden, Daxter, Wario, Vincent Valentine, unfortunately Tingle - that not at all exhaustive list shows how fertile the spin-off earth is for planting.
And hey, while we're getting our hands dirty, we have a few suggestions of our own! In the slides beyond you'll find a collection of of guys, gals, robots, and aliens who have all proven to be so capable, interesting, and memorable that they could easily support their own downloadable offshoots and/or massive trilogies. These sidekicks shouldnt be wasting any more time in the background, and we know just what type of game they should star in. Do we have your attention, corporate overlords?
Zelda (The Legend of Zelda)
Sorry, what is this game series called again? The Legend of who? Hmm, funny that. As big a deal as Zelda is in the Legend of Zelda series, and as skilled a fighter as she's implied to be, a game with her at the helm has yet to materialize. Hyrule Warriors gets close by making her playable and giving her control of her own badass army, but she gets the same amount of attention as everyone else in Team Fanservice, and basically ends up being upstaged by Link. Freakin' Link man. Ultimately, a game where she is the undisputed protagonist and doesn't get kidnapped is the only way to do this leading lady of Nintendo justice. Seriously, no kidnapping!
A Zelda-led title could fit snugly just about anywhere in the Legend of Zelda canon. Heck, she wouldn't even have to be a princess, if you wanted to go the Skyward Sword route. Just focus on her honing her magical abilities, and maybe make her transformation between Zelda and Sheik a gameplay mechanic as she travels through Hyrule on a quest to defeat Ganondorf. And it would be called The Legend of Link, naturally.
Alyx Vance (Half-Life)
Half-Life is defined by the silence of scientist-turned-savior Gordon Freeman, but Half-Life 2 introduced gamers to a character many would come to love much more than the stoic Freeman. Alyx Vance is one of the more multifaceted characters in gaming, at times strong and determined, and at other times scared and unsure of herself. Despite occasionally ending up the damsel in distress for Gordon to save, shes often Freemans equal, if not better equipped to deal with the alien-infested totalitarian state the world has become.
Were Valve to make a game starring Alyx, it could finally break out of its silent protagonist mold and have her take an active role in the story. The game could be a prequel, telling of Alyxs many exploits as part of the resistance before Gordon decided to wake up from his convenient slumber, but that seems too safe for Valve. Instead, how about they throw the entire gaming world a curveball and make her the star of Half-Life 3, killing off Freeman in the first 10 minutes? Once players got over the shock, we think theyd ultimately appreciate a hero that can speak for herself.
Falco Lombardi (Star Fox)
Unlike most of the characters on this list, Falco has been trying his best to grab the spotlight since he first appeared. Hardly content to merely support Star Fox leader Fox McCloud, Falco is a hotshot pilot that consistently tries to outdo McCloud at every turn, and even when he slightly mellows with age, Falco's skills still rival Foxs in the air. Plus, anyone thats play Super Smash Bros. Melee knows Falco is at least Foxs equal in hand-to-hand combat. Its time Lombardi got the starring role he so richly deserves.
As the Star Fox titles continue to move away from the arcadey flight that defined the series, Falco has always remained committed to the air, so lets just keep him there. Let Fox have his tanks and submarines, and let Falcos spin-off focus entirely on classically-styled flight levels featuring Lombardi leading a whole new team of pilots. Star Fox traditionalists would finally have the game theyve been clamoring for, and Falco could finally become the leadership position we assume Nintendo has been grooming him for.
It's true that Lydia is just as prone to standing in your way during a fight or getting stuck in a door as any other AI companion who follows at your heels. Still, as perfect as she may be for Fus Ro Dah target practice, it feels like there's something special about her. Maybe it's because she's a beautiful first companion, and you never forget your first. Maybe it's that she's really really good at carrying stuff. Maybe it's because she's an accomplished bodyguard (don't let her standing on your toes in battle fool you) with a mysterious past that you're burning to discover. Maybe it's all those things, and maybe all of that's so interesting that she should get a game all to herself. You know, maybe. By which I mean definitely.
Since Lydia's life before she met the Dragonborn is seldom mentioned, a game centered on her journey to become the best housecarl in all the land is ripe for exploration. How does she work her way up the social ladder to enter the house of Jarl Balgruuf before she's gifted to her thane? How many dungeons did she get hopelessly stuck in before mastering the art? Where did she learn how to cook? I MUST KNOW!
Clay Carmine (Gears of War 3)
In a world of horrific military casualties, the man with a decent set of armor is king. Nobody proves that better than Clay Carmine, who managed to avoid losing his head or the majority of his torso to Locust swarms, which puts him many steps above his unfortunate brothers. Surviving thanks to his incredible physical prowess and a host of adoring fans, he's both skilled and interesting enough that he would probably survive a game of his own.
While Gears isn't what you'd call a narrative experience, it has its share of touching moments (most of them named 'Maria'), so Clay could spend a bit of time mourning his brothers in between blowing his enemies apart. In fact, Ben Carmine mentions having three brothers before his death, so why not go all Saving Private Carmine and have Clay go full-bore hunting down the last of his flesh and blood? With their luck the guy would probably die dropping a stereo in a bathtub, but it's worth a shot!
Emily Kaldwin (Dishonored)
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: get this girl a game! Your young ward and moral compass during your trip through Dunwall, Emily may seem more like an animate door prize than potential protagonist, but there's more to her when you take a closer look. She mentions Corvo teaching her at least basic combat skills, for instance, and Dishonored's possible eldritch abomination/whale god The Outsider takes an interest in her early on. These things combined, it's easy to see Emily going on a magic-powered quest for justice/murder spree all her own.
Granted this may be a bit tricky, since Dishonored ends with her becoming either a puppy-feeding saint or a full-on psychopath at age twelve, resulting in two wildly disparate versions of her character. But since it wouldn't be too difficult to port your chaos rating from the first game, this could actually be an interesting mechanic, letting Emily start off as either a goody-toe-shoes or horribly evil and have that affect her options going forward. Regardless, you'd get to play as a badass assassin queen, and who wouldn't want that?
Though she turns into a bit of a damsel in Bayonetta 2, Jeanne is every bit her badass bestie's equal, and she takes care of herself just fine for the 500 years before the Bayonetta we know starts kicking around. What exactly was she up to all that time? Undoubtedly something completely insane involving a lot of interpretive dance and explosions, and you know you want to play the living hell out of it.
Since Jeanne would probably handle a lot like Bayonetta (if her unlockable model in both of the games is anything to go by), you can probably expect the same sort of globe-trotting, angel-stomping shenanigans from her. Plus, since the series tends to play it close to the vest with expository details, there are plenty of aspects of the world left to explore. Maybe Jeanne and Bayonetta's witch training, or the war between the Umbran Witches and the Lumen Sages, or the half of millennium of downtime afterward. And what's that? The producer for Bayonetta 2 is hoping for something "Bayonetta-related" in 2015? And Hideki Kamiya wants to make a game starring Jeanne? Yes? Yes.
HK-47 (Star Wars)
For as interesting as the redemptive tale of Darth Revan was, virtually everyone that played Knights of the Old Republic remembers a certain deadly droid more than anyone else in the groundbreaking RPG. An accomplished droid assassin, HK-47 captured the hearts of gamers everywhere with his dark sense of humor and propensity for suggesting that murdering people with lasers was always the best solution to a problem. Popping up occasionally in sequels and both Star Wars MMOs, nothing seems to be able to stop this droid, so why dont we just cut to the chase and give him his own game?
Fortunately for HK-47, the market for action games starring assassins is booming right now, so a Hitman/Assassins Creed type game starring HK-47 is like a blank check LucasArts has yet to cash. The publisher has already covered the darker aspects of the Star Wars universe in games like Force Unleashed, but telling tales of HK-47s past working for gangsters and other unsavory elements would explore a part of Star Wars mythology rarely seen outside of the occasional novel or comic book. Sure, a Boba Fett game would work about the same, but that would deprive the world of more of HKs hilarious disgust for the meatbags that comprise humanity.
Frog (Chrono Trigger)
The supporting players in Chrono Trigger are so well realized and defined that almost any of them could support their own spin-off. We'd surely enjoy a game starring Magus or Robo, but we see the most star potential in the tragic tale of Frog. A noble, stoic knight thats cursed to be trapped in an amphibian's body, he doesn't let that stop him from being a heroic swordsman.
Though the official ending of Chrono Trigger has Frog return to his human form, we hope that the new side game would keep him in his green form. The setting could stay in his home time of 600 AD with him defending the realm from some new threat now that Magus is taken care of. You could even give him some sidekicks of his own who might just be cool enough to get a sequel in 2028.
As is tradition at GR, we saved room for at least one mention of Okami in this feature, but this one is richly deserved. For most of the game Issun appears to be a talkative glowing flea thats a little too obsessed with attractive women. When you see the tiny aspiring artist up close, youll notice hes actually a respectable young man with a cool brush that doubles for his sword. After he helps Amaterasu save the day, Issun decides to continue the work of the gods on Earth, a plot worth seeing unfold.
Issuns game would follow the tiny guys continuing adventures to keep the world safe from demons, and the biggest draw would be the interesting sense of scale for the characters world. Similar to the the memorable shrunken levels in Okami, Issun will face dangerous enemies and save humanity without ever being noticed by the larger world. And since he followed along with Amaterasu to learn her Celestial Brush techniques in Okami, lets say he inherits those innovative powers, but puts his own unique, inch-high spin on the whole thing.
Nathan Drake may be the coolest thief/archeologist/trained killer in a half-tucked shirt, but he learned all those skills from the master, one Victor Sully Sullivan. Sully adopted Nate to teach him all about stealing artifacts and shooting people, skills Sully picked up in his time in the Navy and as a freelance thief in his own right. An accomplished pilot with a love of fine cigars, Sully supports Nate every step of the way, usually keeping pace with Drakes acrobatics, which is impressive considering he's, like, 300 years old.
Sullys skills and determination give him great star potential, though his age and constant smoking stretches the believability of his ability to have adventures, so lets turn back the clock. Lets see the decades of adventure that Sully had before working with Nathan, having fun throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Of course, it could also take place after he teams with young Nathan, allowing for co-op missions with Drake pushed back into the sidekick role, an interesting change in fortune.
Roll (Mega Man)
Gamers all over the world are clamoring for the return of Mega Man, and while we also miss the Blue Bomber, his sister has been relegated to warming the bench for far too long. Roll has made playable appearances before, usually as a comedic character in fighting games Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Normally the jokes center around her cooking and cleaning abilities, which is why we want to see a game that finally bucks those domestic stereotypes and make her at least as tough as her brother.
We see the story opening with Dr. Wily finally succeeding in defeating Mega Man, nearly destroying the droid and leaving him at deaths door. There seems to be no hope until Roll nominates herself for an upgrade, admitting that shes always been a little jealous that Mega Man gets to have all the fun. Light reluctantly weaponizes her, sending Roll into the fray to take on the Robot Masters. When she ultimately succeeds, she earns a newfound respect from her friends and family. Meanwhile, as Mega Man recovers, he finds a new passion for cooking and cleaning, which could play out in some random minigames.
Wheatley (Portal 2)
Its hard to steal focus from a character as compelling as GLaDOS, but in Portal 2 Wheatley pulled it off with endearing--and overly British--incompetence. A dangerously moronic program created by Aperture Science in the hopes of dumbing down GlaDOS, Wheatley accompanies Portal players through a good chunk of the game, usually making things worse through his bumbling idiocy. But even when he turns on you, its hard not to love the foolish robotic orb, because when hes maniacally plotting your death, hes still incredibly funny.
Were Wheatley to get his own game, wed pick up right where we left him, floating around the moon. After learning the error of his ways, Wheatley teams up with his fellow floating spheres and tries to find a way home, propelling himself in zero gravity through a series of clever puzzles. Having the bumbling AI complete physics-based conundrums sounds like a fittingly scientific approach for a Portal spin-off.
Bruce Kibbutz (Grand Theft Auto 4)
Grand Theft Auto IV protagonist Niko Bellic was a an interesting character who made tough choices. Still, much of the time Niko just bummed us out, and wed rather spend time with his friends, particularly the hilariously inept Brucie. At first its easy to hate Brucies over-the-top machismo and quest for respect, but soon that gives way to pity, then understanding for a friend that will always have your back. By the finale we loved to hang with the genetically different Brucie, if for no other reason than to hear the next way his barely-hidden homosexuality would pop-up in dialogue.
Since Brucie is so much more fun than GTA IVs star, fans deserve at least some spin-off DLC starring our favorite bro. Crafted in the style of The Ballad of Gay Tony, a Brucie side story could work as a brilliant bit of self-parody on the part of Rockstar. The plot could follow the usual path of one mans morally grey rise in the world of crime, only Brucies idiocy would derail it at every turn as he screws up every mission in some ridiculous fashion. GTA games have always been some of the funniest in gaming, so itd be great to see Rockstar do a full-on comedy, and Brucie is just the man for the job.
Shaundi (Saints Row)
Sure, Johnny Gat getting his own adventure is all well and good, but I can't be the only one who thought what about Shaundi? She may show up in some of the Saints Row side material and does go all Terminator for How the Saints Saved Christmas (in the spirit of the season), but she doesn't yet have a game to call her own. Not even a standalone expansion. And that's just wrong.
Given that pretty much anything goes in Saints Row (recall that there's a DLC pack called Enter the Dominatrix, and that Gat Outta Hell is a literal description), there are no limits on what Shaundi's adventure could entail. Think epic planet-hopping adventures with Jane Austen to liberate Saturn from the grip of reptilian space bikers who are also on fire, and she's part robot 'cause that's awesome. That's one idea, and it already sounds perfect. Come on devs, show a homie some love.
Now I am the master
Those are the 15 sidekicks that desperately deserve their own game, and honestly, we're not just wishing to the wind here. Not only do these characters have obvious protag potential, but when we originally said that Mario's Toad should have his own game? He got it. Just saying, there's some magic in our words.
Can you think of any other background players that are deserving of a solo game? Let us know in the comments below, and get some of these good vibes. Big money, big money!