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We probably owe much of who we are to our parents, but what about our parents’ parents? Whether it was those weekend visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas or finding that extra dollar hidden in our pocket, grandparents are the veteran parental love behind parental love. Such senior affection can’t come without proper representation in the video-game world, however. Take a look at some of the best of them this Grandparents’ Day.
10. Sir Francis Drake (Uncharted)
Family leaves its mark on all of us, centuries even in the case of the Drake family. Sea Captain, explorer, navigator, slaver, politician, and privateer to Queen Elizabeth herself, Sir Francis certainly led the most riveting and controversial lives of the Elizabethan era, and that legacy seemingly have rubbed off on his descendant, Nathan Drake. Aside from having been great-great-great-great (*etc., etc.*) grand-father to such a dashing/crazy adventurer, Sir Drake was as instrumental in aiding the defeat of the Spanish Armada as he was in birthing one of the greatest video-game adventurers of all time. Too bad he wasn’t the greatest of guys when it came to, ya know, abolitionism. If you believe those touted “historians” over at Naughty Dog, perhaps Drake still has some mysteries for us along the way. . . (Uncharted 4 *cough*)
9. Altair Ibn-La’Ahad (Assassin’s Creed)
Altair may have been many things to many players in his debut to series lore. Brash, arrogant, reckless, rebellious: these were the words that usually followed the lectures he received from Al Mualim. Nevertheless, he still grew into a proven family man, having two sons by his beloved wife Maria Thorpe and even living to see grandchildren from his son, Sef. Alas, like all things in Assassin’s Creed, that joy could not go untouched by tragedy. The Templars, and even his own complicated ambitions, would rob him of two of the people precious to him. Such sorrow led Altair to grow more into the wise, learned mentor he became for the sake of the Assassin Order. His family and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was all the better for it as his guiding presence and touching final end proved to be what held either of the two together.
8. Ishaku (Okami)
Family can indeed be a hard thing to live up to, and Okami’s Ishaku proves that. A demanding little bug of a man (literally) he stands as a 2 inch tall slave-driver, constantly lecturing his grandson, Issun, on the proper conduct of the family-line. He’s also this “celestial envoy of the gods” *yawn* and believes himself to be a very strict, important person. With his cute little red, button nose and samurai-like brown shell, he may be the kind of imposing person to enforce such manners to the pea-sized crowd. Not to Amaterasu, however. Maybe it’s the wolf-goddess that brings out the best in both the stubborn little Poncles. Maybe Ishaku really does just want to be the best grandpa ever and make his grandson into the celestial envoy that he never was. In any case, he’s probably the kind of loving grandparent that everyone wants to have deep down: someone to look out for you but call you out on your crap.
7. James McCloud (Star Fox)
The legendary founding member of the Star Fox crew, the apparently Scottish fox James McCloud never lived to see the grandson apparently born to his son by Star Fox Command’s alternate ending. That didn’t stop him from being one of the best posthumous grandparents in the galaxy, though. He was one of the only brave anthropomorphic critters in pants to take on Andross when no one else would mozy out of their kennels and if not for the cheating *** pig in his team, he’d have made it out one heck of a space-capable mammal (with some sporty shades). Forgive his child-naming skills or child-abandonment issues. (a.k.a naming your son after your species.) Lucky for him that he could live on in spirit through good ‘ole Peppy Hare’s memories of him, for Star Fox would be nothing without having had him. And who knows? When there’s no body-bag, maybe there is no “long-lost father” after all. . .
6. Quan (Final Fantasy IX)
If video-games have taught us anything outside of mute multiplayer sessions and remembering if you’ve put that roast in the oven, then it’s that families hardly need be biological. That’s too true for Final Fantasy IX’s fan-favorite of Vivi, the adorable little scarecrow of a Black Mage. While few in Gaia would have welcomed a strange blue dude with Jawa eyes, but appropriately the only other more bizarre creature in the game: Quan. Dressed like a Chinese scholar, looking like a blobbier, whiter version of Ghost Buster’s Stay Puft MarshMellow Man, and having the creepiest tongue ever, Quan’s an oddball. Granted, he’s *ahem* “it’s” not even the kind of thing you’d let out at a petting zoo. Still, the Qu chief has a big heart. For a creature that eats anything and everything, it might’ve been unnervingly close to actually eating Vivi, but it didn’t. Rather, it became the best thing that Vivi had to a parent, eventually becoming the tiny guy’s “grandpa.” Isn’t that adorably? *awww*
5. Kranky Kong (Donkey Kong Country)
At times it seems like the only thing the older-generation has left is to complain about “The Good Old Days.” Donkey Kong’s grandpa Kranky Kong seems to live in a place as nostalgic and fuzzy as his true relation to Donkey Kong. Sitting on his porch in his rocking chair, he can’t help but complain about “This story’e even worse than Donkey Kong Country’s!” and “They can’t keep this level of graphics up for much longer!” and “Waste of frames in my opinion!” No matter how far games advance, they’re never good enough for ‘ole Kranky, as his name implies. Still, he’s a veteran of his platforming world and no doubt seen some terrible stuff in his day. Some even believe him to be the original arcade Donkey Kong. Whatever he is, he seems to be filling the grandparent role perfectly: keep the young’ins disciplined, curious, and haul’in in dem bananas for grandpa to get his potassium from. Who’d not want that kind of role-model?
4. Grandma and Grandpa Ulrira (Link’s Awakening)
The Legend of Zelda is often an experience of confusion and frustration as it is a series of legendary marvels, so it’s only right to have the right people to guide you along the way. Take the elderly Ulriras from Mabe village on Koholint Island. They're somebody's grandparents, right?! Living in a cozy little cottage in what’s no doubt the perfect retirement getaway, the two enjoy their sunset years helping children going to fight off monsters. While Grandma Ulrira ultimately enjoys the role of the clean-freak grandmother forever sweeping up. . . something. . . Grandpa Ulrira calmly sits back in his chair, just chill’in wit ya and swapping hints with you on what to do just to see the smile on your face. Or at least, that’s probably what they’re there to do. There’s not an alternate ending where they hit up Link to wash their car for them and mow the lawn, right?
3. Duke Anthony Herzen (Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box)
Nearly every grandparent that comes to mind would suggest silvery grey hair, less of it, and a few wrinkles around the eyes, but not Duke Herzen. He mysteriously still has a spring in his step, his youthful vigor, and equally devilish good-looks. He’s one bad-ass sword-fighter to boot. The mystery behind his actual grand-parentage is the heart of the Diabolical Box’s great twist, and though few could see it (or, really, ever) see it coming, it certainly makes everything you’ve done up to then seem worth it to see his story play out. Besides, who wouldn’t want this grandpa playing ball with you in the park? Or a deadly sparring match? Or playing pretentious Victorian dress-up with you?
2. Bugenhagen (Final Fantasy VII)
Red XIII is probably one of the strongest, most dependable members of your party (and one of the people I foolishly left out of my Top Ten Cats list) and such a great cat-thing could have been raised by a great parent, or surrogate grandparent, that is. When Cloud and his gang are lost and without a candle in the world to show them the way, trusty Bugenhagen is there to the rescue to show them through the darkness. As the elder of Cosmo Canyon, he’s the only one to tell you the truth behind the Sephiroth’s true plan for the Planet. He’s also coincidentally named after a major leader in the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Smart, sophisticated, knowledgeable, and oh so dear to the adoptive “grandson” that loved him enough to call him “grandfather,” Bugenhagen is truly the ultimate endearing grandpa you can get. Unfortunate for him that his odd, green, spherical bottom can masquerade as one of the planets he’s trying to show you in his Solar System model generator. “Ho Ho Hooo!”
1. Link’s Grandma (The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker)
Link has always been an eternal fountain of youth throughout his child-like debuts, but rarely with as great a figure of elderly parentage as the lovely grandmum he and his sister find themselves with in The Windwaker. She’s a charming, sweet old lady who’d do nothing but cook, clean, and tuck her two beloved grandchildren to bed every night. Your acrobatics and peculiar obsession with pots probably worry her, but you care about her all the same. It’s especially heartbreaking to see the wreck that she becomes after returning home from your sea-journey for half the game and even more when you eventually part. Still, you always remember the people who brung you, mute cell-shaded characters and others alike. It’s hopeful that the kingdom that Link and Tetra’s descendants founded paid tribute to this beloved grandma in some small way, maybe even naming a train station after her. But then, “Link’s Grandma’s Station” would sound pretty odd. . . It’s the thought that counts I guess.
Finally, give yourself a chance to thank your own grandparents with a thoughtful call, letter, or simple bit of appreciation this Grandparents’ Day. Like the grandparents you see here, or have some grandparental memories of your own? Put ‘em down below and thanks for reading another commemorative blog!