Sunday, July 1, 2012

Friends of Merit

There are a lot of games that give us allies.  Unfortunately most of these in game helpers are useless or worse  yet actively hamper the player's progress.  I can distinctly remember my wing men in Star Wars: X-Wing being especially incompetent with even "ace" NPC pilots completely unable to take out a single TIE Fighter.  So, for this blog post I'm going to mention a couple noteworthy friends in gaming.  Keeping with the format of my previous post (Foes of Merit) I'm going to mention three in particular - the unfamiliar, the familiar and the esoteric.

Captain Elson

If you've played the PC title Homeword from beginning to end you know this guy really saves your bacon.  He's a defector and a commander of the elite guard destroyer "Kapella" - which of course is jet black.  For me the thing that makes this guy stand out is the fact that you never see him face to face, nor do you ever learn his first name.  He might as well be the vessel he's supposedly inside...and you know what?  It works.  I totally empathized with the character despite the fact that he is personified in the form of an ebony fish looking star ship.

Solarie of Astora

Often times referred to as "Sunbro" this knight has become something of a iconic symbol for co-operative play in Dark Souls.  Although it is possible to fight against him, players who don't will reap huge benefits should they chose to seek his aid in several difficult boss fights.  Supposedly, the lore of the setting also subtly implies that Solarie is actually an younger relative of the last boss.  Summoning him for the last battle makes for an interesting case of kinslaying and regicide via player assistance.  It's true that in the above video he is defeated, but you must bear in mind that he abstains from using magic equipment and instead prefers to rely on his innate abilities (yes, that includes the divine gift of being able to throw lightening bolts).


Over two decades ago there was a rather simple RPG known as Bard's Tale III: The Thief of Fate.  If you recognize the title chances are your thinking of the 2004 version which is actually the fourth entry in the series and has virtually nothing to do with the previous three.  Anyway...a common feature of the games is random encounters.  On rare occasions though you can recruit a monster rather than fight it.  The third iteration in the series also features a rather unusual kind of beast called a "Nefest."  What is a Nefast?  I have no idea, but based on portrait it looks something like a pudgy light blue hairless grizzly bear.  Supposedly the word means "wicked" as well.  Regardless, getting one of these guys on your team can be a huge help since they can dish out and take quite a bit of damage.  I was fortunate to add one to my party early into my first play through giving my group of adventures some much needed punch as well as a team mascot.  So, based on the simple fact that I remember this particular kind of creature after all these years must mean it truly is a friend of merit.

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