Video games are for the birds.
At least this month they are.
In our year-long quest to find the Greatest Animal in the History of Video Games, we listed every bird we could think of (and yes, we know we forgot the "Zelda" chickens, and we're still not sure if Birdo is a bird).
Thankfully, our readers and judges helped us by picking their favorites.
Here's our all-star panel of judges for this round:
- Russ Frushtick, Games Editor at UGO
- Morgan Gray, Senior Producer at Crystal Dynamics
- Tofuburger, Co-founder of funny animal picture blog I Can Has Cheezburger
Unlike last time where Ecco the Dolphin won almost unanimously, this time the votes got tangled up in a few ties. Read on to see which bird(s) ultimately won, which ones readers liked best and which judge actually chose the chickens from "Chicken Run" as their top choice...
THE WINNER: Well, there are two winners. According to our weighted point system, the "Zelda" chickens and "Final Fantasy" Chocobos tied for first place. Meanwhile, Birdo and the "Chicken Run" chickens tied for second, and then the Chozo from "Metroid" and Blathers from "Animal Crossing" took third prize.
As far as our readers are concerned, ties also abounded: it was a six-way tie between "Zelda" chickens, Birdo, Chocobos, Laguz, Blathers and Kaepora Gaebora.
Here are the judges' individual picks to compare with your own:
Leigh Alexander, Kotaku:
3. You knew I'd pick a Pokebird. But which Pokebird? Rest assured I positively agonized, but I have to go with my current Emerald favorite, Altaria. Not only is it fast, but it knows Dragon Breath, Perish Song and Sky Attack. Pretty awesome.
2. You know, whenever I make lists of anything, nothing infuriates me more than comments from people who, instead of discussing the forty things I remembered, want to point out the one thing I forgot. Nonetheless, I have to play Jerk's Advocate and say OMG HOW COULD YOU FORGET THE CHICKENS FROM "ZELDA." In "Link To The Past," picking up and throwing chickens was awesome, as was their swarming revenge if you tormented them enough. Ever since then, picking up and tossing chickens is a ritual I perform every time there's a new "Zelda" title -- as if I'm making sure it is a true "Zelda." The awesome flapping and clucking only gets better with time.
1. Chocobo - I am unable to explain, but I own various chocobo-themed merchandise and am helpless to resist further purchases thereof. Perhaps it's because chocobos, like all of the other iconic "Final Fantasy" periphery, were meticulously designed to make me open my wallet -- er, heart -- again and again, from now until the end of time.
Russ Frushtick, UGO:
3. Tiki the Kiwi from "The New Zealand Story" (aka "Kiwi Kraze" in the U.S.): He's small, he's yellow and he's the star of an entire game. He's not a co-host, sharing the spotlight with a bear wearing a backpack. He's not a random encounter, one of many to capture in a Pokeball. He's not a wizened creature, carrying you about the land in his talons. No, he's the one and only hero of his game, and there aren't a lot of birds that can honestly put that on their avian resume. Plus, he's so gosh darn cute.
2. The Chozo: The Chozo believe that it is better to give than receive. That even includes giving long after their civilization was scraped under the boot of interstellar society. They seem to have spent most of their living days coming up with very cool weapons (ice beams, super rockets, and the like), designing a storage technology that would put Tupperware out on the street, and carving large stone statues of themselves to bestow these lovely gifts. So they're a little vain? Big whoop! Without them, Samus would've never had the ball to take on Mother Brain!
1. "Zelda" Chickens: The "Zelda" Chickens first appeared in "A Link to the Past" on the SNES. You were going about your merry way, slicing through moblins and octorocs, only to come upon a peaceful little chicken, just chilling out in Kakariko Village. So you've got a sword in one hand, a shield in the other and a sack full of bombs and arrows. What the hell else are you going to do? What, you're NOT going to hit the chicken?
For most people, one or two swipes was enough, leaving the chicken to scurry off with a series of buks. But there are those for whom one or two is never enough. After many repeated strikes, the chicken would rise up in revolt, sending out a warcry, near and far. Within seconds, the screen was awash with white feathers, as Link was assaulted from all sides by beating wings, fearsome talons and razor sharp beaks. Good for them, I say! Fighting for their rights to be plain old chickens, and nothing more! They don't have double jumps, eye lasers or heart containers, but what they do have is courage, numbers and a love for their fellow fowl. So for that, I salute them... after hitting them once or twice for good measure.
Morgan Gray, Crystal Dynamics:
Love them or hate them, they are as much a part of "Final Fantasy" as giant swords and lengthy button click through dialogue chains. I love racing them, breeding them, watching them dance. These little (or not so little depending on the scale of the game) dudes are cute and manage to be epic mounts, without the epic.
2. The silver choice... Blathers!!!!!
In a game with few hard goals for the player, Blathers was an excellent guide towards making the 500 hours you put into the game "count". Every time I went back to the museum I made a point to say hello. His never-empty fountain of information concerning the most random fish or fossil bit you found was entertaining and boring all at once. No small feat. For me , outside of Resetti, he's also one of the few people in my "AC" neighborhood whose name I remember (Self -plug: Come to Moland, I got coconuts for trade!). So Blathers, as one of the most distinguished video games birds, I tip my hat to you.
1. And Numero Uno is... The Chickens from "Chicken Run"!
Ok, so I sooooo wanted to put Kazooie here, and really, Kaz earned the spot, but "Chicken Run" is one of those rare movie tie-in games that manages to be 100% TRUE to the source material, and also stay true to the spirit of the source material, that of satire/commentary, and still have time to be fun. The subtle (sometimes) riffs on gaming conventions while simultaneously grooving on the movie's plot had me laughing my ass off -- the "MGS" bits being the most inspired.
With the industry being as young as it is, it's good to see developers poking fun at themselves, genres, and chickens. Some of you will hate me for this call, but you owe it to yourself to play this game. Best game ever -- probably not, but a great example of trying to serve both the bullet points and the true comedic spirit of a license, and well, it has my bet. That, and anything that connects at all to The Great Escape (Watch it! Then watch Eddie Izzard's take on it) will always pull me. Gold!
Tofuburger, I Can Has Cheezburger:
3. Chickens - "The Legend of Zelda" - Hit them once, and it's an accident. Hit them twice, and they'll run away. Hit them three times, though, and a tumultuous bombardment of wing and feather, beak and claw, will hail down on you from the heavens, as if powered by the strength of the Triforce itself. That said, we still do it in every "Zelda," at least once.
2. Chocobos - "Final Fantasy" - Perhaps you don't like racing mini-games in your Final Fantasies, and perhaps you don't like these racing mini-games spinning off into full-fledged titles, but you can't deny the thrill of empowerment, of ownership, when you and your party hop onto your faithful feathered-steed and declare triumphantly: "RANDOM ENCOUNTERS?! Random encounters are for people on foot!"
1. Birdo - "Super Mario Bros." - In "Super Mario Bros 2," Birdo was referred to as a dude. Now, "he," is clumsily referred to as "it" in all Mario propaganda. As the first transgender character in the Mushroom Kingdom, Birdo has a lot on his/her/its shoulders, but that doesn't stop those pixels-of-questionable-gender from wearing whatever color of Pink they like, shooting eggs out of their mouth without fear of prosecution, and competing in just about every sport Mario dares waggle a Wii-mote at. To you, Birdo!