Dashed Expectations

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 2:41 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:32 pm
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Location: Lively Town
Image This is something I've thought about while browsing the net some time ago...

When it comes to animal characters, dogs seem to take up the biggest shot of it. Like, they are the "balding space marine" of video game animals. They're popular, loyal, lovable, and very easy to make into a video game.

But...what about the other common domesticated house pet? Cats can be just as part of someone's life as dogs, if not more depending on preferences. Yet, I don't see them represented well all that much in the video game media.

Nevertheless, I took it upon myself to round out my Top Ten Felines in Video Games!

With that, I did incorporate one simple rule: They need to have some semblance to the common house cat. No big guys like tigers, lions, jaguars, et al. They need to resemble the one that just might be on top of your television set right now.

Well then, let's see if you find this list as purrfect as I do!


10. Katt Monroe

Let's kick things off with a character that we'll all be reacquainted with very, very soon. This pink feline first shows up in Star Fox 64, occasionally flying in to aid Fox and the others, notably over on Zoness and Macbeth. She flies her own, customized Invader class III ship known as the Catspaw (the people of the Lylat System aren't very creative with names) that she stole from Andross's forces after they wrecked her old one. For the most part, she has no real affiliation with Star Fox and only helps out simply because Andross kinda cheesed her off, what with being captured and all. That being said, there is some definite history between her and Star Fox member Falco Lombardi. She tends to tease him a bit, though in a playful manner. Falco always wants to shoo her away, but there is definitely something deeper between the two.

When compared to Bill, the other character you could possibly encounter when taking alternate routes in 64, her presence doesn't seem as large (then again, with a scenario like Katina's, it's hard to forget) and for a long time, I didn't even know she was even around! Still, her help was not unwelcomed. Like a lot of characters, she got into a playable form with Command (and dyed her fur while she was at it) but that title can be a bit of a mess to follow due to its multiple endings.

With Zero, she's ready to return to the stars once more, more or less playing the same role she did in 64, complete with the teasing at Falco. Wouldn't be Katt without that, really. She also sports a new earring, which might just be a slight nod to the cancelled Star Fox 2's Miyu. So, yeah, that's neat.

9. Evil the Cat

Over on Planet Heck, all things wicked and ruthless and vile can be found; Fire and brimstone, murderous demons, and worst of all, elevator music. And the overlord above it all is Evil the Cat. Because, of course, cats are vicious and cruel killers. Jim's search for Princess What's-Her-Name brings him to this dreadful place, where Evil decides that he wants that high powered suit for himself and his evil desires (it's in his name, after all). It's noteworthy that, unlike most of the other villains Jim encounters on his journey, Evil doesn't have any affiliation with Queen Bloated, Pulsating, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed Slug-For-A-Butt (whom the suit was originally meant as a gift for her) and merely antagonizes Jim for his own means. His plan: Make the rest of the galaxy even more infernal and twisted. The fight gave us the first time Jim ends up out of his suit with Evil trying to roast the worm alive with a flamethrower but only succeeded in giving Jim a way back into his suit, where he took out all 9 of Evil's lives (ironically enough, all 9 of them ascended up with angelic wings and halos).

Along with the 9 lives, he's got a few other cat-like behaviours to him; Evil is very much about his appearance and will groom himself between attacks, pounce on Jim from the darkness, and has a high number of "staff" with himself reigning as the "master".

The sequel gives off a mixed message, however. Some sources say that Evil returns to harass Jim while he finds himself in the Circus of the Scars, but others state that this is actually Flagitious, Evil's cousin and the actual owner. Who you believe is up to you, since the two foul felines look pretty much identical.

8. Kokopolo

A wildcat who lives in the jungle, Kokopolo has a very, very short temper, and once he starts a rampage, he will not stop until "justice" has been served (his view of justice is a bit skewed, for the record). However, Kokopolo isn't some super strong creature with magical powers or what have you. In fact, all he can do is scratch you in the face. I'm sure that'd tick anyone right off...which is exactly what Kokopolo wants. He's a massive troll that is deliberately trying to make others angry so that they chase after him in the maze structure...and fall into a man-eating plant. Yeah, he's a bit of a prick...and the main protagonist of the series! All of which could have been avoided if the Wind God Jinbe didn't drop one of his bongos on his head. This is a very rare case of a video game "hero" actually being outright villainous. Even in the bonus hard mode, where Jinbe decides to take vengeance on the wildcat, he still comes out on top when Jinbe's Robo-Jinbe ends up exploding and showering Kokopolo with lots of money (why this Wind God powered his robot with currency is a question for the ages...). See kids? It's good to be bad!

...Though I guess you could try going for the secret ending in Stage 1 and see a more gentle side of Kokopolo...

Fun fact: The developer based this character after his own experiences with a feline as a child. A cat that, for fun, would just scratch you in the face, and then run away waiting for you to follow. And from that trollish cat, a video game was born. Cool story, I thought.

7. Rover

You get on the train, ready to start your new life. It's pretty exciting. Someone decides to sit directly across from you. He has a nice, warm sweater on and addresses himself as Rover. He seems to be a big fan of traveling and taking the train. He strikes up a conversation with you, seemingly with the intention of getting to know you better, wondering who you are, where you're headed, and what other plans for your future are.

Indeed, Rover is one of the very first faces you encounter in Animal Crossing, with his main purpose simply being to get you started with your first set of customization, including character name, town name, and (while hidden) face appearance. He's certainly friendly enough and means no ill intent, other than maybe not respecting your privacy. He's also bad at telling human genders apart, it seems (girls can be cool and boys can be cute, you know).

Other than that? Nothing much to Rover, but as someone you see right as you make your first character, he definitely sticks to your mind for a long time.

6. Kabegami

Throughout Nippon are many Celestial Brush Gods. Amaterasu meets with each one of these on her journey to bring peace to the land and rid it of the darkness. Among them is Kabegami, the Celestial Brush God that teaches Ammy Catwalk, which allows our wolf goddess to walk along walls by drawing a line from a Kabegami statue. She seems to have a friendly and playful demeanor when interacting with Amaterasu, though I'm sure Issun would disagree as the two end up batting him around like a new toy.

What I found most fascinating with Kabegami involves the Zodiac that all the other Celestial Brush Gods follow. In the Chinese Zodiac, there is no cat, but it is present in the Vietnam one (replacing the rabbit). Based on how Ōkami plays out though (and due to the lack of a Water Buffalo), the Chinese one seems to be the one the game follows, as evident with her place of worship, Catcall Tower, being described as lonely, complete with a cat constantly crying out in sadness. There's an interesting folk tale behind this, actually, outside the video game: It is said that the cat initially was meant to be part of the Chinese Zodiac, but cats being heavy sleepers, knew it would have trouble rising up in time for the ascension, so it requested the help of a rat to wake it up. However, the rat betrayed the cat and took its place in the Chinese Zodiac. This explains the long standing rivalry between rats and cats, according to myth and legend. With Kabegami seemingly "forgotten," I thought she fit rather well into the world of Nippon.

5. The Alleycat

Life is hard for a stray. You live among trash and hope to find that one piece of scrap that could be deemed edible while avoiding getting horribly killed by vicious predators. However, thanks to one crafty alley cat, there is a solution: Stupid humans who leave their apartment windows open. Our sly little kitty sneaks through these windows and, inside, has the time of his life. Be it hunting for mice in a giant wedge of cheese, fishing for goldfish in a giant fish bowl, or suppressing boredom by knocking over potted plants, this cat seemed to have found it all. Even better, his antics have attracted the attention of some rather lovely looking females. Score!

But, not everything is roses. These human households are guarded by very dangerous beings: Bulldogs, giant spiders, electric eels, and above all else, sentient magical broomsticks with obsessive compulsive disorder! Our hero cat needs to face each of these troubles head on if he wants to impress the girl.

Notably, one of the very first video game felines and one of the first video games I ever played. Fun stuff!

4. Blaze the Cat

I fell off the Sonic wagon for a while when I didn't get any SEGA console beyond the Genesis. So even when I learned the company went third-party and started putting their games on other consoles, I didn't really care. I felt I had "grown out" of his 'tude. Fast forward to 2005, a year after the Nintendo DS has been out. I started to see previews of a new Sonic game, and with it, a new character I instantly connected with: Blaze the Cat. I decided to read more about it and decided that, you know, this game doesn't look too bad, and as it turns out, Sonic Rush was actually pretty great! I started playing more Sonic games after that, and you can thank Blaze for that. She wasn't the first feline to grace the series but she certainly got my attention.

Hailing from an alternate dimension (...or the future, but let's ignore that "canon"), Blaze is a princess and guardian of the Sol Emeralds, a square counterpart to the more familiar Chaos Emeralds. Much like anything called Emerald in this series, they possess great power, and villains are always trying to get their grubby mitts on them. Blaze, however, has pyrokinesis on her side (hence the name, and you thought Lylat was bad at that), so instead of a spin dash, she wraps herself in flames, burning any foes she touches. She's not as speedy as Sonic, but she is a better jumper, even able to get a second one off in mid-air! And should the power of all the Sol Emeralds combine unto her? Why, she becomes the first ever female character to gain a Super Form with Burning Blaze! Talk about hot!

But let's not end there; Her personality was also something I found myself relating heavily towards. Due to having some difficulty control her abilities at a young age, she was constantly teased by other kids, forcing her to wear a cape to disguise her abilities. As she grew older and became the guardian of the Sol Emeralds, she also became rather distant from others. Not necessarily shy, but wanting to do things herself without anyone else involved. It hit a bit close to home to learn this considering how I grew up. She eventually undergoes character development and becomes more open thanks to the kindness that Cream (and later Sonic) has shown her, kinda like you guys to me!

So...yeah. Big fan of this character and always happy whenever she appears. I even went as far as to install a (WIP) mod in Generations that replaces Sonic with Blaze!

3. Myau

Let's stay on this SEGA train and travel to the distant Algol Star System (a real place, btw, look it up) in the very distant future. Here, on the planet Palma, our heroine Alis has just witnessed her brother get murdered by grunts of the evil ruler Lassic and swears vengeance while also promising to fulfill her brother's final wish of bringing peace to Algol. She is advised to seek out the great warrior Odin for help, but isn't sure where to look...until she acquires a most unlikely ally: a talking Musk Cat! Myau had been traveling with Odin, who also had the idea of stopping Lassic, but needed the legendary Laconian Axe from the gorgon Medusa. As a counter-measure, Odin gave Myau a bottle of medicine that could dissolve stone, but Odin apparently forgot that most animals don't have opposable thumbs and he couldn't open the bottle when Odin inevitably turned to stone. While seeking for help, one greedy individual captured this talking cat and sold it for a huge amount of money. It was only thanks to Alis sacrificing a rare pot made from Laconia that her brother gave her that she was able to rescue him. With his help, they rescued Odin from his stoney fate and continued on their quest to stop Lassic.

Myau seemingly fits the bill of your typical "cute JRPG pet" that seems to crop up nowadays, but he was one of the earliest, with Phantasy Star arriving late in the 80s on the Master System. Myau wasn't just a simple companion that sat idly by, however; He can fight too! In fact, hilariously enough, his stat growths make him stronger than Odin! Of course, this is balanced by the fact that Myau's options for equipment are rather limited. With that said, he does come with some very useful spells to cast as well, both in and out of battle. From healing wounded party members, to disarming traps, to putting up a barrier to protect everyone from damage, Myau was very versatile and a great party member.

But that's not even the end of it! In order to reach the Air Castle, where Lassic reigns, our heroes need to find some way to fly. Over on the frozen planet of Dezoris, the party can get a Laerma Nut which, when fed to Myau, makes him grow to the size nearly of that of a horse and sprouts majestic wings to fly the whole party to the castle. Along the way, they end up battling a Gold Dragon as a boss fight, but this one has a unique condition: If Myau were to die, everyone else does too because, guess what, he's carrying all of you! Take good care of your giant, flying cats, people. The transformation seems temporary, however, as evident by the ending cutscene as well as the remake removing the "fight dragon while flying on Myau" part. From beginning to end, Myau is probably one of the most vital and important party members Alis comes across.

I mean, it really is telling that, when a town in Motavia 2000 years later makes a statue in honor of Alis's heroics, the only other character to get the same kind of respect was Myau, who also gets a little statue right next to her.

2. Meowth/Persian

Probably one of the more important ones on the list, for personal reasons. If not for Meowth, I don't know if I ever would've even tried Pokémon to begin with! I just stumbled upon his image one day and said that I had to try it, just to use this little Pocket Monster on my team. And the rest, as they say, is history. But let's go a bit deeper, shall we?

In Gen I, Meowth was exclusive to the Blue (Green in Japan) version of the game, which meant I had to forgo my usual favourite colour of Red for the version that had what I actually wanted, a tradition I have more or less followed to this day. Found in every route surrounding Saffron City, they were relatively common and, at first, might not seem like too much of an addition to your team what with it being a simple Normal-Type. But don't let that turn you off! For starters, this is the only Pokémon to learn Pay Day naturally through level up, so if you need a little extra spending money and no trainers left to fight, Meowth is the way to go. But beyond that, you also have its really high Speed, which only gets even higher once it evolves into Persian and becomes one of the speediest ones in the game. But just being able to go first isn't enough: Due to the way the games were programmed back then, Critical Hit chance was calculated based on the Speed stat. In short, the higher your Speed, the more you would Crit, with moves that have a high crit rate being pretty much guarantees. Since Meowth/Persian learns Slash naturally, its main STAB attack would very, very often also deal twice the damage due to all those crits! Combine that with its rather large movepool, and you have here a Pokémon that, even today, is considered a very good choice for players of Gen I.

Unfortunately, as the games went on, Meowth and Persian's prominence has dwindled, pretty much to the point that you can't even catch them anymore in most games (in fact, I almost left the franchise completely due to this, as juvenile as it sounds). Still, Pokémon #052 remains a fan favourite. It's one of only two Pokémon to consistently appear in the anime, has appeared in several spin-offs (even a main character in the first two sets of Mystery Dungeon games) and still finds time to show up in Super Smash Bros., even if not playable.

But most of all, Meowth is my chosen avatar for forums, even before Mystery Dungeon came out. At the time of NSider, it was just the perfect fit: A recognizable feline exclusive to Nintendo. That's all I needed.

1. ??? from Ghost Trick

Now, normally, I like to not hide behind spoiler tags in these lists. Endings and twists get given away all the time. But this time, I felt that this cat is just so integral to certain events of Ghost Trick, I need to hide this behind a tag...

Spoiler: click to show
...Because finding out that Sissel was a cat the whole time blew my mind! On replays, you could see the signs, sure, but most of it was disguised so well as just being a side effect of being a ghost that I didn't catch some of them the first time through (such as the fact Sissel can't read; At first, you dismiss it as him being a ghost, but now we know it's because cats really can't read human writing).

So Sissel... A simple cat who just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (inside Yomiel's suitcase just as he got shot) and ends up believing himself to be the blonde-haired individual. Throughout his time as a specter, trying to solve the mystery of his demise within the time limit, he ends up meeting, saving, and befriending several people from certain death thanks to his ability to travel back in time 4 minutes before they met their demise. A power initially believed to just be a "ghost thing" until we found out about a little something called the Temsik Meteorite, which seemingly gives spirits upon death their powers.

What I liked so much about Sissel (and why he's number one to me) isn't simply the fact he's the main character. It's because the writers actually nailed down exactly what we cat lovers have always seen and witnessed in cats, just in ghost form. At first, Sissel seems kind of aloof, his only interest being to find out what happened to him. Most cats are seen as loners, after all. But as he starts interacting with everyone else more, such as Lynne, Jowd, Kamila, and various others, he starts to warm up to them and will do just about anything in his power to help them, even going as far as refusing to let a young child version of Lynne get killed just so she doesn't have to experience the trauma of getting killed and resurrected at such a young age.

At first, you would just view this as natural character progression: Person doesn't have friends, makes friends, is happier this way. But the thing is, this is something a domesticated cat does, and Ghost Trick nails it very well. I've seen this time and again. The cat will start off shy around you, maybe even hide, but as you show yourself to mean no harm and even provide it with some food and fun, they warm to you and even see you as one of their kin. I can just imagine the same thing was going through Sissel's mind as well, even though he didn't realize he was a cat until the very end.

It's possible I'm reading too much into this and it was just a happy accident that this fit in so nicely, but this really is ultimately why Sissel is my favourite cat character in video games: He's the most like the real thing!


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