Platforming Pocket Pal
Friends are nice to have, but for a platform game hero, they can be hard to keep. With all the difficult running, jumping, and sliding you have to do, what if your sidekick can't keep up? He could fall down a pit, get stuck behind a door, be left behind by a moving platform, or dozens of other inconveniences that get in the way of keeping an adventuring party together. But there's a solution to those problems.
A Platforming Pocket Pal is an adventuring companion in an action game who, for whatever reason, is not hindered by the action segments. It could be a small flying creature or Attack Animal
that easily follows you wherever you run and jump to. It could be a sentient magic item that the hero carries around, or a high-tech device with artificial intelligence. It could even be a ghost or spirit of some sort. Regardless of the reason, the benefit of the Platforming Pocket Pal is that the game makers can add another character and more complexity to the plot without having to worry about him getting left behind or being limited in how they design levels.
This trope is distinct from but may overlap with Exposition Fairy
, Fairy Companion
, Spirit Advisor
, and Mission Control
. Not to be confused with Party in My Pocket
or Took a Shortcut
- Huepow the ring spirit from Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. He's a floating blue orb who stays in Klonoa's ring during gameplay, but comes out to talk during cutscenes.
- Lolo from Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil is also an example. Despite being human(ish), she also has the ability to enter Klonoa's ring during gameplay segments.
- The more recent games in The Legend of Zelda have given Link a wide variety of pocket pals. The tradition started with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which gave Link the Fairy Companion Navi to give him advice. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask gave him a similar companion.
- Ōkami gives Amaterasu the help of Issun, a wandering artist who is very tiny and hides in Ammy's fur. There are also several parts of the game where she has people riding on her back, including Issun himself after she gets shrunk.
- The gag continues even to her appearance in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where Issun can be seen briefly on Ammy's nose and then hides just before the battle begins.
- Super Mario Sunshine equips Mario with the talking, water-squirting backpack FLUDD.
- Jehuty from Zone of the Enders comes equipped with a built-in artificial intelligence, named ADA.
- Daxter from Jak and Daxter is an "ottsel", a small animal which Jak carries around.
- Similarly, Clank from Ratchet & Clank is a robot who can fold into a backpack for Ratchet to wear. In a bit of a reversal, a number of vital items get built into him over the course of the first game (and carry on into most of the rest), so he actively helps you though the game. Levels in which he is unavailable often make you feel his absence.
- Then there's the Giant Clank sequences, in which the heroes do a bit of role reversal and Ratchet rides on Clank's back (which actually doesn't make much sense, as Ratchet and his little arsenal are a bit of a One-Man Army even at regular size, whereas normally Clank tends to rely on cleverness over firepower. Wouldn't it be better for Ratchet to follow on foot, or at least sit up on Clank's shoulder where he could aim some of those guns?)
- Played for laughs in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. In 1-player mode, playing as Ratchet, Captain Qwark, or Dr. Nefarious will have Clank on your back like in a normal Ratchet game (until combat or puzzles require him to get off). The exception comes if you decide to play as Clank himself; if you do, your AI partner is Qwark, who somehow folds himself into a smaller size than Clank in order to sit on his back.
- Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is capable of flying with his tails. This doesn't explain why he can escape being crushed and doesn't take damage, though.
- Kazooie from Banjo-Kazooie, who rides around in Banjo's backpack.
- Helpers in Kirby Super Star are susceptible to level hazards, but if you leave them behind too far, they just zip over from offscreen. Also, if their life meter runs out, instead of dying instantly, they flash and explode for several seconds before actually disappearing. This gives Kirby enough time to turn them into inanimate objects, eat them, and pop them back out fully healed (don't ask). They can also revive themselves on their own by touching another enemy that gives a copy ability (but curiously, not if it's whatever ability they currently are).
- Since Super Smash Bros. Brawl was produced by the same guy (Masahiro Sakurai) who did the Kirby games, the co-op in the Subspace Emissary mode works much the same way as Kirby Super Star, with Player 2 as your Platforming Pocket Pal. However, since the second player-controlled character can still be killed by being knocked off the screen by an enemy, and both players share the same amount of extra lives, the platforming isn't any more difficult in co-op, but the fighting itself becomes ridiculously frustrating on higher difficulties.
- The Pokémon Trainer always follows his mons around by teleporting to different locations. Unused animations for him imply he was intended to run around in the background to follow the action at one point in development, instead of simply teleporting.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 has Metal Gear Mk. II, who turns invisible while following Snake around.
- Certain cyber-elves in the Mega Man Zero series. The third game classifies them as "Satellite Elves".
- Cave Story has sections where you work with Curly; she moves, fires, and takes damage same as you do, but she can't be killed. At least, not while still fighting with you.
- She's not really an example at that point—she's just a companion. In the bonus level, however, she follows the trope more closely, as she is strapped to your character's back.
- Spyro the Dragon has Sparx, a dragonfly companion who gathers nearby gems and serves as a health meter, changing color as you take damage. In games where you have other playable characters, Sparx follows whoever you're playing as.
- In Illusion of Gaia, Lilly can turn herself into a dandelion seed and fly around to get to wherever she needs to be. She hitches a ride with the protagonist while exploring Mu and later searching for Lance at the Great Wall.
- The Pixls in Super Paper Mario. They float, so there's little problem with platforming.
- NieR may be more standard action-adventure, but there's just enough platforming to make this an issue. Luckily, one of your companions is a talking book that the main character carries on his person, and another is a mage that just levitates to wherever you are. Oh, and your land-bound companion can teleport, but that's mostly to cover poor pathfinding and an inability to climb ladders.
- Averted in the Mario & Luigi games; you have to control both of them.
- In Astal, Bird follows Astal around once freed, and can be commanded to perform various actions. Bird's movement is directly controlled by the second player in Co-Op Multiplayer, and even in single-player mode during a certain Boss Battle where Astal is trapped.
- In Kingdom Hearts, Jiminy Cricket serves this role for Sora. He keeps a journal of the game's events and rarely appears in cutscenes.
- 8 Eyes has Cutrus, the falcon who normally rests on Orin's shoulder but who can be sent out by special commands or with the Player 2 controller. Cutrus is inseparable from Orin, but likewise vulnerable.