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Platforming Pocket Pal

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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? They 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 or shoulder-mounted creature, or an 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 worn as an accessory. 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 them getting left behind or being limited in how they design levels. They may or may not have direct impact on gameplay, but it doesn't matter.

Subtrope of Non-Player Companion. 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. Compare Gameplay Ally Immortality, where the companion NPCs cannot be killed by the same things that kill the player characters.


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    Action Adventure 

    Action Game 
  • 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.
  • Jehuty from Zone of the Enders comes equipped with a built-in artificial intelligence, named ADA.

    Fighting Game 
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Since the series was produced by the same guy (Masahiro Sakurai) who did the Kirby games, the co-op in Brawl's 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.

  • 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.
  • Kazooie from Banjo-Kazooie, who rides around in Banjo's backpack. She is capable of handling things on her own, as shown in Banjo-Tooie, but she prefers to stick around her friend and assist him with her superior mobility most of the time.
  • Crash Bandicoot has Aku Aku, a mask companion that grants Crash extra hit points, and invincibility when three are collected. He's capable of flight, so he can easily keep up with Crash.
  • Zigzagged in Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. In normal gameplay, Diddy, Dixie, and Cranky spend their time mounted on Donkey Kong's back, aiding him with their extra abilities (a jetpack to hover, a Double Jump ponytail twirl, and a cane pogo jump) while DK handles the actual platforming. However, they're perfectly capable of dismounting DK in multiplayer, at which point they're as vulnerable to the platforming as DK is, depending on the skill of the second player.
  • Daxter from Jak and Daxter is an "ottsel", a small animal which Jak carries around.
  • 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. 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).
  • Klonoa:
    • 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. Despite being human(ish), she also has the ability to enter Klonoa's ring during gameplay segments.
  • Certain cyber-elves in the Mega Man Zero series. The third game classifies them as "Satellite Elves".
  • Prince of Persia (2008) has Elika, who is, rather unusually for this trope, just as human as the Prince (player character), but doesn't cause any trouble for the player during platforming section by the virtue of being a) just as good at Le Parkour and b) having a sophisticated AI that preemptively gets out of the Prince's way during complex acrobatic sequences.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Clank is a robot who can retract his arms and legs to sit on Ratchet's back. 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 & Clank 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.
    • In Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Clank takes this role for Rivet in the first half of the game, and Ratchet eventually finds Kit, who fills the role for him. The rough half-time point is when Ratchet and Rivet finally meet, and swap buddies, with Clank returning to Ratchet, and Kit joining Rivet.
  • Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is capable of flying with his tails when he falls too far behind. This doesn't explain why he can escape being crushed and doesn't take damage, though.
  • 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.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Baby Mario in pretty much every Yoshi's Island game he appears. Since Yoshis are already mounts by nature, he does not hinder them at all, unless he's floating inside a bubble (which happens whenever Yoshi is hit by enemies or hazards).
    • Super Mario Sunshine has the talking, water-squirting backpack FLUDD. In addition to the nozzle and pump, FLUDD comes equipped with a belt so that he can be worn around the waist.
    • The Pixls in Super Paper Mario. They float, so there's little problem with platforming.
    • Super Mario Galaxy has a little Luma that lies under Mario's hat, which grants him a Spin Attack move.
    • Super Mario Odyssey has Cappy the Bonneteer, a hat ghost who merges with the shredded remains of Mario's hat to reform it. No matter the headwear, be it hat, head mirror, helmet, or goggles, Cappy will be within it, sitting atop Mario's head. He's a more helpful version than some others, as he instills Mario's reformed hat with new boomerang and trampoline powers, as well as the Capture ability.

    Role Playing Game 
  • 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.
  • RPGs in the Super Mario Bros. series, specifically the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario series each have their own forms.
    • The Mario & Luigi series, starting with Partners in Time, gives you a sentient suitcase named Stuffwell that carries your inventory and rarely interacts with the player to give them hints. He's replaced from Bowser's Inside Story onward with the much more active Star Sprite, Starlow.
    • The first two Paper Mario games give you your Party Members, with one out at all times and all of whom have special overworld abilities such as providing detailed information, carrying Mario over gaps, or altering the environment to remove obstacles. As mentioned in the Platformer Folder, Super Paper Mario gives you the Pixls to replicate this functionality; and after returning to an overhauled RPG system, some previous Party Member functions are stripped down and condensed into Kersti in Sticker Star, Huey in Color Splash, and Olivia in Origami King.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Metal Gear Solid 4 has Metal Gear Mk. II and Mk. III, tiny robots who turn invisible while following Snake around.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • The Tenno in Warframe can go out on their missions with sentinels, tiny drones that provide support while dutifully flying over the Tenno's shoulder, effortlessly keeping up the pace with their incredible acrobatics. Alternatively, the Tenno can use kubrows or kavats, who can't keep up the pace like sentinels can, but have other advantages like being able to be resurrected infinitely.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Starbound has S.A.I.L., your AI companion who constantly speaks to you from your ship through some unseen non-inventory device. (Esther and the other residents of the Ark sometimes hijack the comm too.) Additionally, people following you (crew members, mercs, escortees, pets) can teleport to your location if you get too far away or if they can't reach you through regular pathfinding.