But not these horses.
Two weeks ago, we announced our year-long quest to find the Greatest Animal In Video Game History. First, we proposed a list of the best virtual horses and asked you, the readers, to tell us if we missed any. Then comes phase two today: the official vote.
Now this is serious business, folks. For our Blue Ribbon Panel, we went to straight to the top:
- A pretty good game creator -- Ken Levine, President and Creative Director of 2K Boston and chief creative force behind the 2007 GOTGOTY
- A pretty good artist -- Mike "Gabe" Krahulik, illustrator of the "Penny Arcade" webcomic
- A pretty good writer -- Leigh Alexander, editor of Worlds in Motion, writer at Gamasutra and her blog Sexy Videogameland
- A pretty knowledgeable person about animals --Tofuburger, co-founder of cultural phenomenon/funny animal picture blog I Can Has Cheezburger
After weighting each judge's top three choices -- many of which, were, uh, shocking -- the winner turned out to be...
Epona from the "Legend of Zelda" series. Pokemon's Rapidash came in at a close second. The horses from "World of Warcraft" tied with Hannah the Horse from "Zoo Race" for third place.
And the Readers' Choice winner: Agro from "Shadow of the Colossus." (Epona was a distant second.)
Are the judges out of touch? Or do they know something the rest of us don't? They are pros, after all. You've got to see what they picked and their justifications (provided in words and pictures). So read on.
Take it away, Ken Levine...
Ken Levine, 2K Boston:
My first choice, of course, is Hannah the Horse from "Zoo Race," the biblically themed animal racing game. Set up as the credulous "science stooge," this non-believer is shown the error of her ways when she's transformed into her zoological alliterative equivalent and set running in an amazing racing challenge. Ham-fisted theology meets truly unspeakable production values. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Treat yourself to any YouTube clip and you'll see what Levine is talking about]
Second, of course, is my dearly beloved War Horse from "World of Warcraft." Why? Because if I had to lope on-foot another inch through Stranglethorn, I would have killed somebody. And not just metaphorically killed somebody. Actually killed somebody.
And last, but not least is my trusty steed from "Stampede," the ancient Atari 2600 rootin-tootin roundup game. Why? Well, they say you'll always remember your first time, and the "Stampede" horse was the first one I ever encountered in a video game. And why no updated "Stampede" for the Gen-Y kids? Come on, Activision!
Leigh Alexander, Sexy Videogameland:
Firstly, I know from net buzz that I should pick Agro, and that I'll be berated mightily for not doing so. But I just didn't play "Shadow of the Colossus," and cannot in good consciousness promote a horse I haven't seen firsthand.
1. Epona: Legendary hero, legendary horse. And especially because getting that goat-herding, whistle-loving, loyal steed back was more motivating in "Twilight Princess" than any of those kidnapped kids or Midna's constant nattering (okay, the nattering was cute).
2. Rapidash: Did it always take so much work to evolve Ponyta? At times it seemed like it'd never happen, but when I finally raised a tricked out unicorn whose hair was made of fire, my dream team was complete and all the better for all that time I spent wandering around trying to make little Ponyta grow up.
3. Hudson Horstachio: It is a candy-filled, egomaniacal Hollywood-indoctrinated rainbow pinata shaped like a horse. I would say more, but then I would have to reveal that I actually watch the "Viva Pinata" TV show on Saturday morning. Which, uh, I don't. Yeah.
Mike "Gabe" Krahulik, Penny Arcade:
1. Rapidash: Man, I have great memories of fighting 255 of these in a row to speed EV train my timid natured Dialga. I mean, everyone knows you need to outrun or tie-speed with Ubers he shares a speed group with. Am I right or am I right?
2. "World of Warcraft" Horses: I still remember how unattainable 100 gold seemed to my first level 40 character. It might as well have been a million gold. Which coincidentally is the price of the new superluminal space mounts in "Wrath of the Lich King."
3. "Assassin's Creed" Horse: This horse was so awesome that all it had to do was walk past a group of guards to drive them into a jealous frenzy. They would chase you for miles just trying to get a piece of this fine horse ass. Many players misunderstood and assumed the guards were after Altair. Nope. They just loved them some horses back then.
Tofuburger, I Can Has Cheezburger:
1. Epona - "The Legend of Zelda" - Link is a rockstar, and a horse that comes galloping when you jam on a flute is the definition of rockstar. Hyrule is a big place, and if every hundred years or so you're reborn as a green-tuniced hero and have to defend the world from ultimate evil, well then, it's nice to have company. Plus, ladies love an elf on a horse. ICHC Rating: Full of awesome and win.
2. Agro - "Shadow of the Colossus" - Killing colossi is cool, but it'd be slow and boring if you were forced to hoof it on your own two feet. I mean, without the horse, all you've got is a glowy sword and a narcoleptic princess. Not as cool.
3. Rapidash - "Pokemon" - I choose you! Rapidash is so cute, and so cuddly... but IT'S A TRAP! This little pyro shoots fire out of it's mane and can stomp Pikachu in the face. Also, it lives in a tiny ball, so you can pretty much take it anywhere.
Multiplayer readers, there are your winners. Our year-long quest to name the Greatest Animal In Video Game History will continue in February as we apply this complex process to a new four-legged species.