When a series has been around for any length of time, the creators have to look for ways to keep it fresh and entertaining -- and maybe draw in new players, viewers, or readers. There's one way that has been used for years -- the sidekick.
Adding a new sidekick to a series can liven it up and add interesting new opportunities. Take Sonic the Hedgehog 2, for example. The addition of Miles "Tails" Prower let the developers add in cooperative and competitive two player gameplay.
On the other hand, it just might end up backfiring. Scrappy-Doo, Navi from Ocarina of Time, and Sonic the Hedgehog's growing entourage of annoying "friends" serve as memorable cautionary examples.
Game Career Guide challenged its readers to take an exisiting series and add a sidekick. Winning entries envisioned sidekicks that added substance to the franchise's core, and introduced new and interesting gameplay elements.
What follows are the best and most original entries we received. Here are our top picks:
Frank Forrestall, Freelance Concept Artist, Crash Bandicoot (see page 2)
Forrestall skewers the sidekick concept with a Crash Bandicoot sequel co-starring a lineup of questionable partner characters. These varied misfits introduce a number of intriguing mechanics, and ultimately become the focal point of gameplay.
Dean Ray Johnson, Grand Theft Auto IV (see page 3)
Dean Ray Johnson suggests the introduction of a street youth as a partner in crime in Grand Theft Auto IV. The character's age may provoke controversy, but he would undeniably make the experience much more convenient for the player.
Karel Morický, Game Designer at Bohemia Interactive, Splinter Cell (see page 4)
Sam Fisher's weakened mental state is explored in this unusual Splinter Cell sequel, in which Fisher partners with his own damaged psyche for a series of co-op missions. The ending sequence is particularly inspired.
Andrew Swain, Art Institute of Vancouver, God of War: Homer & "Homer" (see page 5)
Enrique J. Gil Izquierdo, Localization Engineer, EA Integration Studio, DOOM: Mr. Pinky (see page 6)
Vladimir Villanueva, Artist, Megaman ZX: Rush (see page 7)
Peter Konneker, Brigham Young University, Kid Icarus (see page 8)