Nintendo has a long history of sidekicks in games. Plumber, pokémon trainer and princess alike have all had their share of side characters helping them along their journeys. But sometimes, these characters can hinder players more than they help them. Some Nintendo sidekicks, no matter how well-intentioned or whimsical, ruined our gaming experience through incompetence or irritation. We’ve collected the five worst sidekicks from Nintendo games and gathered them here, so you can relive all the blood-curling rage that they induce.
5. Luma – Super Mario Galaxy 2
MarioWiki / Luma
In Super Mario Galaxy 2, the pale Luma that lives under Mario’s hat gives him the ability to add a spin to his jump. This is a power that you will use a huge number of times over the course of the game. Luma would actually be a great addition to the game if not for the fact that he makes the same noise every time you spin him. I can’t stress this enough: the same exact noise every. single. time. Hearing the same noise repeat for such a core mechanic isn’t just mildly annoying, it’s down right infuriating.
Luma’s high pitched cry provides no real purpose to the game. Usually sound in a situation like this would give the player audio feedback letting them know that that spin they just performed went well, or something similar, but Luma makes its trademark outburst 3-4 seconds after you’ve finished your spin. In this instance, no feedback is better than delayed feedback. For the entire time I was playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 I could not think of a single reason why the developers felt they needed to include that irritating and highly repetitive sound, or even include this sidekick at all. It’s not even like Mario can’t spin – he happens to do it quite well in the Super Smash Bros. series.
Luma also comes across as quite lazy from a design standpoint. The two Super Mario Galaxy games are some of Nintendo’s most creative efforts, with fantastical settings and wonderful gameplay. The Luma race is peppered all throughout the two games, and their oafish, pillowy bodies stand out in contrast to the literally stellar environments. Mario’s Luma is (paradoxically) remarkably unremarkable; it’s sickly, pale color washes out in the games color scheme. You wouldn’t even know it existed if not for it’s high-pitched squeal.
4. Toad – Super Mario Bros 2
TheMushroomKingdom / Super Mario Bros 2.
Toad is a character that has appeared in many forms across the Mario franchise. Sometimes he’s an annoying aid in your adventures, and sometimes he’s an equally annoying hindrance. However, none of Toad’s features in a Mario game were ever quite as awful as in Super Mario Bros 2.
In this game, Toad’s failure as a sidekick was how his ability didn’t seem to fit the style of the game at all; he was the character with the fastest running speed, but it came at the cost of his jump height. Toad’s lack of jumping prowess might not seem so bad until you think about the structure of Super Mario Bros 2 as a whole. This game is a two-dimensional, side-scrolling platformer that requires precise, vertical jumps. Toad’s inability to jump vertically meant that he was unable make many of the jumps the other characters could, especially later on in the game. You’d have a more reliable time platforming in Cat Mario than you would with Toad. In fact, tossing around an inanimate mushroom in your kitchen is just as entertaining as playing as Toad.
Toad’s increased run speed also contributes to how hated this character is. Many points of the game are balanced around the default speed of the characters, such as running alongside projectiles or other moving objects. Toad breaks this balancing, causing you to overshoot and fail many jumps later in the game. Think of Toad as Super Mario Bros. 2‘s poorly designed hard mode. After all, he doesn’t even get any cool abilities like Peach’s float or Luigi’s flutter kick!
Thankfully in this title’s spiritual successors – Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario 3D Land – the game shifted into the third dimension, meaning that Toad is able to make up for his lack of vertical jumps with longer horizontal jumps. Still, including a character who is clearly designed to fail at the core essence of a game is a very irritating design choice, making Toad worthy of being one of the top 5 worst Nintendo sidekicks.
3. Slippy Toad – Star Fox
GiantBomb / Slippy Toad
Slippy Toad isn’t just one of the worst sidekicks in Nintendo games, he’s one of the worst sidekicks in all of gaming. How a frog would even have the dexterity to pilot a spaceship is beyond comprehension, but I suppose you have to leave that gripe at the door in a game filled with space animals with robot legs and a living, stone mask for a final boss.
Slippy Toad comes up short in a number of ways but his voice is perhaps the most obvious. There is nothing worse during a difficult dogfight than by hearing his high-pitched whining for help–which happens nearly every time heads into battle. In fact, Slippy is so useless in combat that I’m not even sure he knows how to rev up his Arwing. The game tries to convince you that he’s some kind of mechanical expert in an attempt to get you to like him, but this alleged prowess isn’t reflected at all in the gameplay. He’s nearly shot down in every single fight, and constantly requires you to come and bail him out of every horrible situation he gets into. Bogey on his tail? Fox, come help! Accidentally burned his toast? Fox, come help! Can’t figure out how to do his taxes? Fox, come help! To make matters worse, after all his failures, he has the nerve to give you tips, as if he somehow is a miraculous, gifted pilot. The only thing miraculous about Slippy is that it’s a miracle he’s somehow still alive.
2. Cha-Cha – Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
MonsterHunter.fr / Cha-Cha et Kayamba
Continuing the trend of short sidekicks with annoying voices brings us to Cha-Cha. This mask-wearing monster hunter has many faults, not the least annoying of which is ending most of his words with the suffix “–laka.” From his greeting of “Shaka-hello-laka” to his cries of “Shaka-laka-bing-bing” there are almost no lines from Cha-Cha which don’t make me want to pull out my shaka-hair-laka. I have the fleeting suspicion that Cha-Cha is the sole reason text is skippable in Monster Hunter 3.
Cha-Cha’s incompetence goes beyond his irritating small-talk. He’s mostly responsible for standing at the back lines and buffing or healing your character when you need it. Well, that’s what he’s supposed to do. Cha-Cha subscribes to the all-or-nothing school of combat; he has a knack for running headfirst into whichever giant monster you’re fighting and getting himself killed. This strategy, undoubtedly a meticulous one, takes him out of the fight for the minute or so that it takes him to recover. During this time, your health falls low and you’re forced to use up your limited supplies of potions. If Cha-Cha was just little smarter, he would have stayed behind to heal you when you need it.
Cha-Cha’s sole purpose in this game ends up just being a distraction to the monsters you’re hunting so you can do some actual damage. The worst part is just when you think you’re finally rid of him, he comes back and brings Kayamba, another equally annoying member of his mask-centric tribe. But if you think the two are the same, then you’re dead wrong. Kayamba has one important, unbelievable, imaginatively brilliant key difference: he says “Yam-Ba” in half of his sentences instead of “Shaka-laka.” See? Only an amateur would mistake the two.
Clearly Monster Hunter isn’t known for its wide array of deep characters. It’s repetitive character design like this which make Cha-Cha one of the worst Nintendo sidekicks.
1. Navi – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
ZeldaWiki / Navi
No list of horrible sidekicks would be complete without giving the number one spot to Navi. In a list dominated by sidekicks whom make annoying noises, Navi takes the cake. Her cries of “Hey, listen” are incessant, and just as feared as a ReDead’s scream. If you make the grave error of acknowledging her, she just tells you something you already know. As if this wasn’t already annoying enough, whatever she says to you is displayed on your screen in slowly scrolling, unskippable text. When you see her start to talk, it’s time to go for a toilet break and come back in 5 minutes when she’s finally finished.
Navi is almost as annoying as the constant beeping whenever you find yourself low on hearts. If only there were a way to take care of her for good. It would be so simple. You could just bottle her up and use her for health when you’re dying. It’d be the perfect crime; the Great Deku tree would never know a thing.
Nintendo may have a long history of horrible sidekicks, but thankfully, they’re getting a lot better. More recent titles like Wonderful 101 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze both contain well-designed, entertaining and unique characters who are definitely worthy of their own games. Soon sidekicks like Slippy, Cha-Cha and Navi will soon just be distant, (hopefully) repressed memories from a time when game companies could get away with awfully designed characters.