Last week, a couple of my fellow contributors had some… disagreements on the best dogs in gaming. As much as I’d like to add my opinions on that particular topic, I think it was covered pretty handily in those two lists. Instead, I think I’ll counterbalance all the canine talk with some of the best feline friends gaming has to offer. After all, while they may not be as common in games as dogs are, cats have certainly had their own memorable appearances in more than one series.
First up, we have one of the most well-known catgirls in all of media, Felicia. Felicia is a Darkstalker, meaning that she is a demon of sorts from Makai, the demon world. Of course, besides the catlike features, you wouldn’t guess she was from such an intrinsically evil place. Standing apart from her fellow creatures of the night, Felicia is incredibly cheerful and prefers not to fight if she can avoid it. This probably had a fair amount to do with the fact that she was brought up in an orphanage by a nun in the human world despite the fact that she was a Darkstalker. Due to that upbringing, she is rather optimistic and although the human world is rather prejudiced against Darkstalkers, she attempts to serve as a bridge between the races by becoming a musical star.
Naturally, while the motivations are rather simplistic and the conclusion is a bit silly, it shows her heart is in the right place. In fact, in the ending to Darkstalkers 3, she even decides to open up her own orphanage in order to help more children who had a similar situation to herself. There are a lot of people who only see the fact that she technically doesn’t wear cloths in her in-game appearances, but there is clearly more to Felicia than such a simple definition. She may only be half-cat, contributing to her placement this low on the list, but I think she merits enough respect to have a place here.
At the time of this list being written, there are 649 Pokemon to be found in the various generations, although the soon to be released X and Y will be increasing that number by a significant amount. Considering the huge number of Pokemon that take from animals in the real world, it should be no shock that more than one was directly inspired by cats. On that subject, let’s talk Meowth. As one of the 151 Pokemon in the first generation, Meowth is most certainly the first one to be based on the feline persuasion and, although he wasn’t one of the best Pokemon in the game by a fairly wide margin, his unique Pay Day move that dropped more money for the player gave him a fair amount of memorability.
Of course, what really cemented the Scratch Cat Pokemon in the general consciousness was his strong presence in the anime. We may be here to talk about video games, but the influence from the anime in this case simply can’t be ignored. Thanks to Meowth being such a constant presence as a member of Team Rocket, he is one of the most likely candidates to appear in side games to the series and is definitely seen as one of the series mascots. His presence in Team Rocket is highly amusing however, as Meowth’s origins can be traced back to the Japanese legend of the “lucky cat,” a strong symbol of luck in Japan. I’ve no idea if it was on purpose, but their bad luck is even more entertaining considering they have a good luck charm with them all the time. Regardless, Meowth is one of the most popular cats in gaming and I can’t help but like what has been done with him, both in visual design and appearances in media.
I never said that all my entries had to be cats in the traditional sense and Snowflake is certainly not traditional. To be precise, Snowflake is a tiger that can be found very early in Dead Rising 2’s three-day cycle in the fairly small Yucatan Casino alongside her trainer, Ted. Sadly, Ted has gone fairly psychopathic thanks to the recent zombie outbreak and sets Snowflake on you to give the animal, as Ted call it, “fresh meat.” There’s no choice but to kill Ted, but Snowflake can actually be tamed once he’s gone by giving her multiple steaks lying around the area. Once you do, Snowflake actually joins you as a survivor, and one of the best at that.
Being a tiger, Snowflake doesn’t really adhere to most of the general rules that apply to most survivors that Chuck must escort back to the safe room. Snowflake can’t be grabbed by zombies and, in fact, is incredibly unlikely to be hurt by them at all. Snowflake is far more of a threat to the zombies then they are to her, as she charges any zombies that get anywhere near her and is likely to kill them outright with her attacks. She’s also incredibly fast, always keeping up with Chuck no matter how much faster he is than the normal survivor speed. Snowflake is probably the best companion you can have throughout Dead Rising 2 and I actually held off on rescuing her once just to keep her with me for backup for a good portion of the game. It’s rather impressive when a large cat appears to be smarter than most of the humans you need to rescue throughout Fortune City.
From his appearance above, you may be saying, “Hey, this Klonoa guy doesn’t look like a cat to me.” While it is true he doesn’t look like a regular cat, there are some catlike features there and Namco themselves have said in numerous interviews that they imagine Klonoa as a fantasy character that is analogous to “a cat with very long ears.” As such, I definitely think he counts for this list and I’m all the more glad for it, because Klonoa is a very enjoyable character. In his first appearance, Klonoa is a bright and cheerful kid that fulfills the classic hero archetype for his journey to save the world of Phantomile. However, he never becomes overbearingly so. He may be the happy hero of the story, but he never becomes annoying like so many that fall into that role. The fact that he can maintain that cheery personality even after some of the very sad things that happen to him, including the death of his “Grandpa” after the main villain destroys most of his home village, is impressive and that quality actually made me care about him in the first place. I felt for him even more when he was forcefully torn from Phantomile after the villain was dealt with.
As it turns out, Klonoa is “The Dream Traveller,” a being who is sent to various worlds where dreams are in danger to save them, whether he wants to or not. In the following games, Klonoa seems to have wised up a bit, as he isn’t quite as bright as he was in the original. Instead, he has developed a more complex character, as he is a bit more laid back and thoughtful about the things that happen around him. Thankfully, he still maintains the kindness and cheery personality that made me like him in the first place, usually offering his help to both friends and even enemies, at least when talking about the more grey candidates. Even with his complexities, at his core, Klonoa is a rather simple character. However, there is something to appreciate in someone who is simply nice. I certainly do.
I can see you all running for the hills now that Sonic ’06 has been brought up in any capacity, let alone at the top of a list of good things, but hear me out for a second and I’ll tell you about practically the only enjoyable thing in that train wreck of a game. Even though it seems to be her most well-known appearance, Blaze didn’t actually make her first appearance in Sonic ’06, instead showing up in the DS game Sonic Rush. In that game, she was the princess of an alternate dimension who guarded the Sol Emeralds, a counterpoint to the Chaos Emeralds, by using her innate pyrokinesis. She lived a rather isolated life until a tear in the space-time continuum caused her world to cross over with Sonic’s world and she had a rather well-done character arc that showed her accepting and relying on others for the first time in her life, even realizing that her pyrokinesis, that she had always seen as a curse that isolated her from the world, only did so because she had been holding herself back. It was a good story and certainly leagues better than any Sonic side character had before her.
She returns in Sonic ’06, and while it’s fairly clear that she isn’t quite the same Blaze from Sonic Rush, her character is much the same. She is quite calm and collected, but never really coming off as cold, especially to her best friend (and far worse character) Silver. She has a similar feeling about her pyrokinesis as she did in Sonic Rush, but doesn’t seem to feel quite as heavily about the issue as she actually does have a friend. Most notably, once the two are about to succeed in their goal of saving the future by sealing a creature named Iblis away, she actually sacrifices herself in Silver’s place by sealing Iblis inside her soul and sending herself to an alternate dimension so Iblis couldn’t hurt anyone. Plus, in both game’s cases, Blaze plays very similarly to Sonic and, subsequently, is actually rather fun to play, especially considering the addition of her pyrokinesis.
Regardless of the game, Blaze presents herself as a solid character that has legitimate development that actually makes you care about her. She stands out among a sea of pointless character additions as one who is actually enjoyable. So, let’s all raise a glass to Sonic Rush, and even Sonic ’06. It gets one good point to attempt to counteract the innumerable bad ones.
So, that was my list of the best cats in video gaming. I highly doubt that your choices will exactly match with mine, so please share your opinions on both the list and subject in the comments below. I welcome the feedback.