Anyone that’s played an RPG knows the kind of special attachment you can feel for a party member. After spending more 80 hours with any group of characters, it’s hard not to grow attached to at least one of them, if not the entire cast. They can make you laugh or cry, and if a game can pull it off, they can really make you wistful when you finally have to say goodbye to your new best friend at the end of the game.
The GamesRadar staff looked back over their personal RPG histories to name the party member that meant the most to them over the years. Whatever the reason, all these digital men, women, and other creatures hold a special place in our hearts.
Lucas Sullivan: Wakka (Final Fantasy X)
Wakka might not be the powerful or intimidating Final Fantasy party member. In fact, he was all but useless in combat, and many players found him downright annoying. And yet, Wakka was the most relatable character I’ve ever encountered in an RPG. He genuinely cares about the well-being of his fellow travelers, and he’ll always try to cheer them up whenever things look the bleakest. Plus, what other RPG fighter would have the gumption to bring a gnarled Blitzball into battle?
Wakka’s cheery attitude is almost inhuman, as he’s able to maintain a sportsman-like smile even as the captain of a Blitzball team that hasn’t won a single game in 10 years. Then again, his English-language voice actor is adept at playing lovable upbeat pals: John DiMaggio, who you might know as Bender from Futurama or Jake from Adventure Time. So even if Wakka’s fighting skills were somewhat lacking, I kept him around for the sheer enjoyment of his company. You can dig that, ya?
Matt Cundy: Darumaka/Darmanitan (Pokémon Black and White)
Darumaka is easily my new favourite must-have Pokémon for my Pokémon party. He’s round and happy and he’s got little paws and when he has a sleep he pulls in his arms and legs and looks like the cutest thing ever. Even better than that, though, is that according to the Pokédex people use Darumaka poo to keep warm – they actually put Darumaka doo-doo in their clothes to combat the cold. Amazing.
But the best thing about Darumaka is that it evolves into Darmanitan, who is a big, powerful, completely demented-looking ape thing that is on fire and has the best eyebrows this side of Ganondorf. As if that isn’t enough, Darmanitan can destroy a dumper truck with one punch. And punching a dumper truck to death is one of the most badass things in the universe. Darmanitan wins everything.
Henry Gilbert: Teddie (Persona 4)
I spent so much time with heroes spread across entries in the Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Pokémon franchises that normally this would be tough to narrow down. Fortunately, recently playing the Vita port of Persona 4 reminded me that there’s one character that would be un-bear-able to live without. That would be the goofy guide through the Midnight Channel, Teddie.
I came to adore the strange bear for his earnestness, silly mannerisms, and love of bad puns. When I first meet him as a guide, I crossed my fingers that Teddie would eventually join my team, making me so happy when he finally became playable. Just like I love Butters for being the lamest character on South Park, Teddie became my favorite stuffed animal in all of gaming, though don’t tell that to Cait Sith.
Justin Towell: Donald Duck (Kingdom Hearts)
For me, it's easy: Donald Duck in the original Kingdom Hearts. The way he talks, the way he always heals me with a cute shout of 'Shorewah!' and the way he gets squashed behind that door near the start of the game is just head and shoulders (and bill) above anyone else in RPGs. I also like the way he fits perfectly into the various world themes, whether as a sub-aquatic version of himself, or the undead duck from the Nightmare before Christmas section. In short, more games should have Donald Duck in them.
Sophia Tong: Rydia (Final Fantasy IV)
I’ve always had a preference for magic users, especially summoners in RPGs. The idea of being able to call a Behemoth out of thin air is very appealing (and probably completely overpowered), but it’s fun, and it usually wins the battle. One of my favorite characters is Rydia from Final Fantasy IV. Even as a child, she’s able to summon chocobos and other creatures to do her bidding--but when she’s older, she’s able to make friends with a wide range of monsters and gods. This is handy, and makes her an invaluable party member.
It helps that she can hold her own, even without the aid of mythological beasts. Her black magic skills are second to none, and she does it with such grace and ease. Her feisty personality and the ability to keep Edge in check is also a perk because he’s a punk.
Lorenzo Veloria: Garrus (Mass Effect Series)
If there was one guy I wouldn’t want to be in a firefight without, that guy would be Garrus. Starting off as just the average C-Sec officer on the Citadel, Garrus went from just being a nosey cop, busting small-time crime bosses, to the feared Archangel and member of the universe saving Normandy crew. Garrus always has your back, no matter what kind of trouble you’re heading into. And at the end of the day, he’s the kind of guy that’s cool with just kicking back, drinking a few beers, and shooting the bottles out of the air with a high-powered sniper rifle.
Ryan Taljonick: Cid Highwind (Final Fantasy VII)
Back in the late '90s and early 2000s, I played JRPGs almost exclusively. While I dumped tons of hours into Chrono Trigger, Suikoden II, and Legend of Legaia, my favorite (haters gonna hate) was Final Fantasy VII. Why? Because it had an incredible cast of memorable characters.
No matter how many times I played through it, though, I could never bring myself to drop Cid Highwind from my party. He was edgy, and cool; he smoked cigarettes like a badass, had a potty mouth that out-pottied Barret, and carried a giant, sharp spear that he'd use to stab enemies to death. But I found him most endearing because of his sad backstory. Cid had all but given up on his dreams, resigned to the fact that the rusty rocket in Rocket Town would never fly again. But it did--and he flew it, ultimately finding redemption. Cid's story was an inspirational one, and he remains my favorite party member out of any I've seen in an RPG.
Hollander Cooper: Boney (Mother 3)
This is rough. Part of me wants to go with ME3's Garrus, because he's essentially a kitty/bug/bird version of Ryan Gosling, and part of me wants to go with Dragon Quest's Yangus, because he's the exact opposite of that. I think, though, that I'm going to have to go with Boney from Mother 3. Boney is your dog in Mother 3. He has no superpowers or weird abilities--he's just a dog. At one point your party needs to enter into an area where, for whatever reason, there's a "No dogs allowed" rule.
So, naturally, your party dresses Boney up like a person and make him walk on his hind legs. For the rest of the level everyone refers to him "dog-like" and complains about a dog smell, but no one ever fully realizes that he's a dog. The mental image of a normal dog succeeding at wearing a shirt and hat and fitting in with people is hilarious to me, and that alone makes him my favorite RPG party member.
Who joins your party?
Now that we’ve shared our happy memories with you, we’d love to hear which RPG party members you wouldn’t leave behind on a journey to save the world. We’d love to see your favorite memories in the comments.
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