[UPDATE 8/11: For some reason, we had included "Primates" in our headline. But silly us, primates also include humans, and this list certainly does not. Our apologies. We're game writers, not biologists. Animals only for these lists. Carry on...]
When it comes to our favorite animals in video games, we here at MTV Multiplayer don't like to monkey around.
Er, or maybe we do... Either way, we had our regular panel of distignuished judges -- Capcom's Morgan Gray, Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander and I Can Has Cheezburger's Tofuburger -- weigh in with their favorite virtual monkey or ape. This month we also invited Heroine Sheik's Bonnie Ruberg to help us out.
So was Donkey Kong the obvious choice? Not for everyone...
...But Donkey Kong still took top prize. For readers, Donkey Kong won hands-down with the most votes. No other animal was even close, though a few of you showed affinity for George from "Rampage" and the "Monkey Island" monkeys.
As for the judges, almost every one included Donkey Kong among their picks, making him the clear winner. Second place was a tie between Diddy Kong and Aiai and friends of the "Super Monkey Ball" series. And third place went to Kiki from "Legend of Zelda."
Read on to see who the judges chose and why...
Bonnie Ruberg, Heroine Sheik:
#3 - Ukiki in the "Mario" Universe
That little bastard, always stealing my hat. Still, just seeing his blocky paws again brings back memories of chasing him around in circles to classic "Mario 64" music. And since that's enough to make me revert into a giddy twelve-year-old, he earns himself a spot.
#2 - Donkey Kong in the "Donkey Kong" Series
Donkey Kong has my respect -- not for any legitimate reasons, but simply because I can kick his butt in "Smash Bros." Sure, he's big. Sure, his stages annoy me ("But I don't want to go in the barrel!"). Sure, I see him punch and my automatic reaction is, "I fell down some stairs, I fell down some stairs." But he's easy to avoid, and he doesn't pack the squashing power of Bowser. And for that, giant ape, I thank you.
#1 - Aiai and co. in the "Super Monkey Ball" Series
I'll admit, Aiai and co. are probably the only video game monkeys I have any real love for. Whenever I get frustrated rolling balls off platforms, or listening to monkeys and their inability speak a human language, I think: man, these guys hang around in giant plastic spheres all day just so I can put them through craziness for my own enjoyment. All they need in the world is bananas and they never, ever stop smiling. Plus Aiai's ears are basically fleshy cinnamon buns. How can you top that?
Leigh Alexander, Gamasutra:
#3 - Chimchar
Okay, I'm an Empoleon kinda girl, but we finally have a poke-monkey that's not a shrieking nuisance, and god knows "Diamond" and "Pearl" have no overabundance of useful Fire pokemon.
#2 - Kiki The Monkey
Ki, ki! I remember the sense of discovery I had in "A Link To The Past" when I realized I was meant to find that little purple guy in the woods, and was so grateful for the moment when I finally figured out what I was supposed to do that I didn't mind (too much) that he took my rupees.
#1 - Diddy Kong
Why not Donkey? Well, yes, the primate papa is an icon, but his nephew just plays better, ideal for tree-swinging, long jumps and all those lovely things so crucial to platformers. I toss my cap in the air for you, little DK.
Morgan Gray, Capcom:
Videos games and monkeys go together like peas and carrots. In fact, I think there have been more video game monkeys than pirates and ninjas put together. Well, perhaps not, but there sure have been a ton of simulated simians jumping around our TVs over the years. Let's start with my honorable mentions:
Drebin's hairless monkey friend in "MGS4." I'm not even sure this dude has a name, but he drinks and smokes, two endeavors that I can support. Plus, for some reason, he got through Old Snake's tough exterior, I really think Snake liked the guy. So hat's off to you, creepy hairless monkey dude!
Now in keeping with the Olympic spirit -- the medals:
Bronze - Specter from the "Ape Escape" series Of course, this game is a celebration of monkeys with sirens on their heads, and that alone should be worth a mention. But Specter was able to rise above his brothers and sisters, and make an enemy worthy of breaking two analog controllers. (That's right, not Dual Shocks, analogs baby. Dual Shocks were but a wistful dream at the time.) If you've played the game, you'll relate. Speaking of "Ape Escape" -- where is my PS3 version?!?!?
Silver - Go ahead and hate on me for this, but King Kong from the movie game was awesome. I found myself blasting through the shooter moments just so I could get more Kong time. Now the game was not greatest, but it was far better than most give it credit for. The Kong sections also served as a sneak peak at "Assassin's Creed" gameplay, if you think about it. One of the finer movie game tie-ins to be produced. All hail the King!
Gold - No contest, Donkey Kong! DK ushered in modern gaming in a way. No DK, no Mario Brothers. No Mario Brothers, no platforming games as we know it. I'm not so big on his extended cast of Kongs -- I hate Diddy with a passion -- but my princess-stealing, barrel-throwing buddy is the undisputed ultimate primate in video games. If you're like me, you've got to be left wondering why we've been kicking Bowser's ass for all these decades, and not watching Mario square off against the true King of the Sewers. I want the jungle-themed "Mario vs. Donkey Kong" follow-up to "Mario Galaxy"... and I want it now!
Tofuburger, I Can Has Cheezburger:
#3 - Kiki - "Zelda: A Link to the Past"
This monkey loves money and I love this monkey. He's basically the first thing you have to deal with in the dark world, and he makes you payout HELLA rupees just to lead you to the first dark world temple. And yeah, it's been a long time since we've seen Kiki, but don't worry about his income, I'm pretty sure I saw him selling starmaps on La Brea just last week.
#2 - The Monkeys in "TimeSplitters"
I put this here because I hate the monkeys in "TimeSplitters." I mean, don't get me wrong, I love monkeys, monkeys are great, and they're even better when they're carrying shotguns and shrink-rays, but I SWEAR TO CARMACK at every frag-fest there's always that one guy who ONLY plays as the monkey in deathmatch, because they're fast and small and pretty much break the game. And like I said, I love monkeys, but when you do finally corner XxChimpFTWxX and lay into him with a beefy barrage of rockets while traipsing around some Mayan temple? Well that's just about the best feeling there is.
#1 - Donkey Kong
For his skilled barrel tossing... For his primal love of pixelated ladies... For his bitter hatred of both plumbers and crocs... I have to give the golden banana to DK. Notice I do not mention the red tie. I do not mention Diddy or Funky or that tart Candy. Oh Kong, I do not forget your past glory even with the mediocrity of your recent missteps, but it is true what they say: It is better to burn out than to fade away. Here's hoping you still have one more trick up that furry sleeve of yours, and that it does not involve racing barrels with Wiimotes.
So what do you think, readers? Do you agree with the judges?