When we started our quest to find the Greatest Animal in the History of Video Games, we didn't know where we'd end up.
But after nearly a year of nominations and voting by our readers and a select panel of judges -- Capcom's Morgan Gray, Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander and I Can Has Cheezburger's Tofuburger -- we've finally got a winner.
We posted the final round of nominees last week. And according to our judge and readers, the award goes to...
Readers, you chose Epona, Link's horse from "The Legend of Zelda," who had 18% of the vote. A close second was Yoshi with 17%. In third place, was Sonic the Hedgehog with 11%.
As for the judges, there was no overlap! Read on to see what each judge chose. We've also posted the full readers' results at the bottom. Do you agree with who was chosen as the winner? Either way, sorry -- no re-counts! And thanks to our judges and everyone who voted!
Leigh Alexander, Gamasutra:
#3 - Yoshi - Ah, Yoshi. I punch you in the back of your head until you stick out your tongue, I scream at you fruitlessly when you run off into a pit at the slightest provocation, and when we're looking like we're not gonna make that jump, I sacrifice you without a second thought and you go down smiling. And you always come back again, Yoshi. Way to take one for the team, forever.
#2 - Sonic the Hedgehog - He's been degenerated, de-glorified, disgraced, but that's not his fault. It could have been Sonic that won the mascot wars; he could have saved the Dreamcast, he could have -- well, it could have been really awesome, and for all those coulda-beens, Sonic, I salute you.
#1 - Chocobos - Sorry. Being a little "Final Fantasy" nerd is part of what got me into video games in the first place, and the tuft-headed little dudes are the only video game creature I'm willing to buy plushies of -- repeatedly -- so that counts for something.
Morgan Gray, Capcom:
#3 - Sam from "Sam & Max" - Ok, my favorite dog detective will be receiving the bronze medal. He's got a cool hat, a big gun, a love of treats, and is obviously the brains behind the dynamic duo which is Sam & Max. I can never get enough of his speeches! Also, let's face it,:Max may be crazy, but Sam is not the dog to piss off because when he gets pissed, things get epic.
#2 - Amaterasu from "Okami" - Silver: This wolf is amazing. I first saw "Okami" several years ago while walking around E3. I stood transfixed for about 30 minutes just watching this game. Who doesn't want to go around removing demonic blight, spawn flowers and springtime while making friends with woodland creatures and using a paintbrush to alter reality? Oh yeah -- bonus -- you're a freaking god in wolf form!?!? "Okami" was huge; I'm still not done with it yet, and I have over 70 hours logged into it (I must find EVERYTHING!). Long live Ammy!
#1 - Agro from "Shadow of the Colossus" - Gold: Everyone says it. "Shadow" was amazing, but do they give Agro enough props? He was your sole buddy in a vast, barren and silent landscape. I could sit there just calling for him for hours. I really formed a bond with this guy. Let's face it, we all knew we were heading down a dark path after a while, but did Agro ever do anything but help us on our quest? Nope, he kept his mouth shut and soldiered on with us. Sometimes at night, I can still hear his hooves...
Tofuburger, I Can Has Cheezburger:
#3 - The "Duck Hunt" Dog - Find anyone who's ever played "Duck Hunt" and you'll hear stories about how, brought to anger of epic proportions, televisions were broken, NES systems and their controllers were smashed, and kids were grounded for yelling profanities and breaking expensive Christmas presents. The culprit? That dog. He's supposed to be man's best friend. He's supposed to be your bird dog, there to retrieve your successful kill. But when you fail? He laughs at you menacingly. Do a Google search for Duck Hunt and you'll find a variety of flash games all including shooting that dog as he taunts you with his laugh. Even 24 years after his introduction, his mere mention can inspire long-winded tirades of vitriol and hatred from grown men. The only thing good to ever have come from that dog are the Duck Hunt Remixes.
#2 - Epona from "The Legend of Zelda" - Every fantastic hero's story involves horses. Atreyu had Artax, Colwyn had the Fire Mares, and Wander had Agro. Link has Epona. The thing that makes Epona stand out is her companionship with Link and her character development through three titles. She not only becomes part of the plot every time she needs rescued, but is also Link's faithful companion. What adolescent boy doesn't hold fond memories of the great steed that accompanies him through multiple adventures where he saves himself, saves the world, and hooks up with the princess at the end?
#1 - Donkey Kong - Donkey Kong is one of most recognizable animals in gaming and should be considered the Godfather of recurring game characters. If Donkey Kong hadn't done a superb job of kidnapping The Lady and thwarting Jumpman's efforts to save her, Shigeru Miyamoto may have never reintroduced the mustached, suspender-wearing carpenter that brought the NES to living rooms across the nation. Then, unwilling to fade into history, over the past 27 years he and his progeny have done cameos, co-starred and starred in dozens of games throughout the years. And to top it all off, DK resides on the sparsely populated list of villains who, seeking redemption, have re-aligned themselves with the heroes. For that Donkey Kong deserves the honor of being named the greatest animal in the history of video games.