Top Ten Tuesday 28

My Top Ten Video Game Siblings

Disclaimer: There are many top ten lists, but this one is mine. If you think a game is missing here, I either didn't play it, didn't have any interest in it, or I just hate you.

Pre-List Notes

For Mother's Day week I did my Top Ten Moms, and the same with my Top Ten Dads for the week of Father's Day. Just because there is no Sibling/Brother/Sister Day doesn't mean I won't do an applicable list, however. Sibling rivalries and relationships are a classic in any narrative, and I love seeing them in gaming. I have fond memories of playing Double Dragon and Mario Bros. with my older brother, and nurturing my younger sister's love of gaming from an early age. My favorite siblings in video games portray them in a positive, loving relationship, have an interesting history, and/or are iconic figures in gaming.

My Top Ten Siblings

10) Nana and Popo (Ice Climbers)

I never actually played the original Ice Climbers, and like most folks was introduced to this hooded duo through the All Star cast of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Nana and Popo are color coordinated blue and pink - to signify that they are brother and sister of course, and wield mighty hammers without leaving each other's side.

9) Cooke and Mack (Lost Odyssey)

Witnessing your mother die and reuniting with your immortal grandmother and grandfather would be pretty stressful for anyone, but Cooke and Mack have an incredible amount of resilience, and their love for each other is fierce and constant throughout the adventure.

8) The Prince and Lym (Suikoden V)

Fanart by aomarine

The protagonist's younger sister Lymsleia is heir to the throne of Falena (which is passed mother to daughter). After the events of the too-long beginning sequences she becomes the Queen and despite her 10 year old stature is incredibly adept at navigating the murky waters of politics as well as providing assistance to her brother whom she dotes on. Her character is extremely reminiscent of Queen Amadala from the Star Wars prequels, only much better written!

7) Palom and Porom (Final Fantasy IV)

The classic silly named twins from FF4 are also probably the most famous twins in video gaming, and certainly amongst JRPG fans. Providing the dichotomy of the two main schools of magic - destructive Black Magic and curative White Magic, the two can combine their abilities in "twincast" to cast super powerful spells. Their personality serves as comic relief in the adventure as the two bicker like any young, closely aged siblings with Palom being an egotistical show-off and his sister being the responsible and mature one that has to keep him in line.

6) Raine and Genis (Tales of Symphonia)

As a pair of half-elves that had to hide their identity, Raine and Genis had a close bond crafted out of their lack of family and support from the world they grew up in. Genis was the young but powerful mage while Raine served as the even-keeled historian and scholar, and definite protective mother to her younger brother. Out of everyone on this list their age is the most disparate, and it makes for an interesting relationship. Raine's role in combat reflects her personality as the group's primary healer and den-mother, while her younger brother remains the reckless mage.

5) Billy and Jimmy (Double Dragon)

Funnily enough, The brothers Lee have become astonishingly recognizable and iconic siblings in video game lore, despite only starring in an average Beat 'Em Up series in an age where they were a dime a dozen. Still, you can't beat some awesome side scrolling co-op gameplay, and the color coordinated bros got the job done by punching and kicking their way through hundreds of 80s punks to reach their captured girlfriend. Wait, their girlfriend? Yeah the brothers aren't exactly the sharing type, and famously battle each other to see who wins Marians affections (presumably it's all she cares about).

4) Magus and Schala (Chrono Trigger)

By far the darkest sibling tale on this list, Janus and Schala were royalty born in the kingdom of Zeal in 12,000 B.C. When their mother the Queen attempted to harness the power of a sleeping intergalactic planet devourer (seriously, how is that a good idea), it creates a rift in space-time and the young prodigious mystic is sent forward in time to the timeline's Middle Ages, while his sister seemingly sacrifices herself to save Crono and friends from the impeding doom by sending them back even further in time in an attempt to prevent the disaster. In the Middle Ages Janus is adopted by the monster population and viewed as a god and prophet, and he takes the name Magus, vowing to gain more power to defeat the gigantic god-like creature known as Lavos. Eventually he joins up with Crono and company in an attempt to defeat Lavos (if you want him to) and he will be more than happy to face down his own mother should you travel to that timeline again as revenge. It's strongly hinted that his cold aloofness has only one soft spot, and that is reserved for his sister whom he never stops believing is still alive.


3) Edgar and Sabin (Final Fantasy VI)

The brothers and princes of Figaro were at odds after the death (murder) of their father - the brash Sabin wanted to run away and train to be a powerful warrior, leaving politics to his somewhat more responsible brother Edgar. Edgar decided a coin toss was the only fair way to solve who would rule the kingdom and who would leave. As fate (or Edgar as it's revealed if you have certain party members with you during another use of the trick coin) would have it, Edgar ends up ruling at Figaro castle while Sabin gets to leave and pursue his dream knowing his brother would make a far better King. The two later rejoin during the events of Final Fantasy VI, aiding and eventually joining the Returners, and Sabin admits after the end of the game that he only left to become strong enough to protect him and his brother. The coin toss backstory remains one of my favorite little moments in gaming.


2) The Hero and Nanami (Suikoden II)

My favorite version of the "older over-protective sister" trope that JRPGs love to use is in Suikoden II. Throughout the epic adventure of betrayal, war, hope, and loss, your older sister Nanami almost never leaves the hero's side, and their team-up attack is effective enough to make you want to take her with you whenever you have a choice. She is the classic doting older sister, but is written in a way that makes it much more endearing than annoying, and during the events of the climatic battle she sacrifices herself to save her brother in the ultimate form of protection. Hope you found all 108 Stars of Destiny....

1) Mario and Luigi (....seriously?)

When making a list of video game siblings, there can be only one pair at the top. Mario is the single most recognizable character in all of gaming, and the title of the main series is Super Mario Bros, so the choice is pretty obvious. Although Luigi seems to always lurk in Mario's shadow, he's gotten his chance to shine in a select few games...which mostly involve rescuing his brother. The brothers have held almost as many jobs as Homer Simpson these days and many times Luigi is little more than a color palette swap, but the pair remain a mainstay in our culture, and Nintendo finally seems to have gotten the hang of out to use them simultaneously with the New Super Mario Bros and Mario and Luigi series.

Wrap Up

Although it shouldn't have been that surprising, I was still astonished that my list is nearly completely dominated by JRPGs, as was my Top Ten Moms list (Dads are seemingly much more common in Western games, at least those that I enjoy). Some famous non-JRPG siblings are from modern series that I haven't played, such as Metal Gear Solid and Devil May Cry. I enjoy great sibling relationships even more than parental ones (though I feel the player-as-parent hasn't been explored enough) and love seeing closely bonded brother-sister relationships, which most of this list reflects.