From terrible twosomes to peachy pairs, videogames have hosted a wide variety of iconic duos. These are our picks of the bunch.
Liam | Master Chief and Cortana - Halo
Nobody likes backseat drivers, but when you’re working for the UNSC, beggars - or rather, children stolen from their families and secretly raised to be unstoppable super soldiers – can’t be choosers. An AI living in your head might not sound like the most appealing idea, but in Halo it makes perfect sense.
Cortana’s super intelligence compliments the Master Chief’s raw power perfectly, giving him (and the player) the means to pull off humanity-saving acts of heroism that might otherwise have proven impossible.
The two serve as a reassuring presence during some of the series’ darker moments, making light of heavy situations with pithy one-liners and quick-fire solutions. Halo just isn't the same whenever the Chief and Cortana are apart.
That being said, there was also a sombre undertone to their relationship, stemming from a realisation that, eventually, their adventures together would have to come to an end. Their story arc helped to humanise two decidedly inhuman characters and raised the narrative bar of the original three games, allowing it to reach the same lofty heights as the genre-defining gameplay.
Chris | Ico and Yorda - Ico
Escort missions have a bad reputation. Games generally have you engage in an immersive power fantasy, and there's little that’ll pull you out of that mindset quicker than having to babysit some mere mortal. Ico - the eponymous protagonist of Ico - is no deity, soldier or even man: he’s just a boy. This puts Yorda, your escortee, on relatively equal footing and that results in an immediate feeling that you need one another to survive.
Despite being two strangers with a language barrier, they work together. Yorda is unable to defend herself from the shadowy creatures sent to kidnap her, meaning Ico has to do all of the legwork when it comes to combat, but without her to open doors around the castle he’d be trapped.
A profound innocence sits at the core of their companionship; both were wronged by those who owed them a duty of care, but upon meeting, whether by serendipity or fate, they show only compassion for one another.
The story of Ico and Yorda is not one of hopelessness or despair, rather it’s one of friendship. Specifically, a strained and forced friendship, born out of necessity and probable to be short-lived (unless someone learns to pick up a damn stick and wave it around a little).
James | Banjo and Kazooie - Banjo-Kazooie
While the game in general might be, *ahem*, inspired by the exploits of a certain plumber in Super Mario 64, there's no denying the personality of the dynamic starring duo of 1998's Banjo-Kazooie.
Banjo the bear and Kazooie the bird (a red-crested breegull, if you were wondering) are a classic buddy pairing of straight man and comedian - or comedienne, in this case. Wise-cracking Kazooie continually raises a smile, picking on poor Banjo and generally being cheeky to everyone she meets.
More importantly, the pair compliment each other in gameplay terms, offering unique moves both specific to themselves and to execute in tandem. Then, in sequel Banjo-Tooie, they’re further characterised and diversified when allowed to split up for a bit.
The fun, whimsy and excitement of the world they find themselves in only adds to their endearing nature as well, all in a stylised fashion which dynamically emphasises the many contrasts between them.
Memorable, fun and exciting throughout, Banjo and Kazooie are the heroes we need right now (just not in a Nuts 'n' Bolts sequel, thanks).
Rob | Link and Epona - The Legend of Zelda
Football had Shearer and Sheringham, Hollywood had the two Kevs - Lord Costner and Reynolds - gaming had Link and Epona. The 90s were tickety-boo, weren’t they?
Many would argue that the ‘real’ duo in Ocarina of Time, a game I first played back in 1999, were everyone’s favourite left-handed Aryan, Link, and most folks’ least favourite fairy, Navi, BUT HEY, LISTEN - you can’t beat a fox hunter’s best friend, alright.
So, alas, join me in climbing aboard the steed of nostalgia, destination: Lon Lon Ranch. It’s almost impossible to come away from this area untouched by the emotional double-whammy that accompanies a horseback race win, stranded between disappointment - thanks to that sore-losing bastard, Ingo - and sheer glee, as you hurdle the corner fence to freedom.
Back in ‘99, before widely available internet guides, figuring out this naughty trick was some kinda something. The best part was yet to come, though, of course, as Epona not only saved Link’s legs, but proved to be an integral part of the journey. The old gal jumping the broken bridge leading to the desert is another classic gaming memory pour moi.
It says everything that my main gripe with Breath of the Wild was Nintendo locking Epona behind an amiibo, which still aggrieves me to this day...
Which gaming dream team of two are your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.