I have to say, there aren't really that many games that allow you to be astride an exotic creature from the deep. Especially games where you control a mythical, gliding, purple beast. Spyro 2 introduced the Mantaray as bipedal cheetah Hunter's pet in certain levels, allowing Spyro to complete mini-games and sidequests. The Mantaray made further appearances in the next two games, showing that Mr. Ray was obviously a very popular choice of transportation around the aquatic levels.
Controlling the Ray is pretty straightforward. All one has to do is use the joypad to control direction: the speed is constant, and I suppose that takes some getting used to. An enjoyable ride, the Mantaray takes the No.10 spot.
The Super Mario series is famed for having absolutely bizarre means of getting around the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario's second foray into the handheld market showed that, despite Mario's obvious weight and size difference, he was able to exploit the natural world to his advantage. And nothing shows that quite like the Owls, everyone's favourite nocturnal vole murderer.
Owls appear in the Tree Zone in one level only. Here they play the role of stepping stone between the various platforms, and they follow an unusual pattern. As a result, timing is crucial so that you don't fall to your death. No other video game has the humble owl play such a minor role in game transport, but it was an unforgettable experience nonetheless.
Continuing the trend on a discussion of unique use of the animal kingdom as transport, I bring you a quite unusual one from Final Fantasy VII. During one short yet unforgettable moment, a dolphin helps you to get from A to B. And his name is Dolphin: Mr. Dolphin.
Owned by abandoned child Priscilla (those who've played the game know what I'm talking about), Mr. Dolphin helps the player party reach the top of the city of Junon without attracting Shinra's attention. See, rather than just take the lift, the party decide to take a shortcut through an electrified ocean, up to an equally unsafe platform. And who else to save the day other than Mr. Dolphin, who at the blow of a whistle leaps the player party a good 100m into the air to allow them to reach the top. This unorthodox, complicated and unecessary use of a marine mammal gives Mr. Dolphin a deserved place on the list.
Crash Bandicoot is a game defined by it's main character: a character essentially genetically modified to become a bulbous freak of nature, a man-marsupial wearing shorts. Naturally, the next step is to find another animal to ferry him around, and what better than a tiny, lonely, defenceless polar bear cub?
Though Crash Bandicoot is known for using animals as transport against their will, Crash 2 does it best. Prior to going into the first bear-riding level, one can stamp on the poor creature's head for extra lives. While riding the poor thing can barely control himself, and then get's chased by it's mother while being ridden by an orange monstrosity with a demonic glee in his eyes. All while looking so cute. As the only game I know of where an endangered Arctic animal can be used as transport, polar bears are definately well placed on the list.
Finally, we leave the animal kingdom, as we return to a series famed for more and more creative ways to get around. While most people on this earth use shoes on our feet so they do not get worn out by the harsh ground, Mario has a better idea: why not jump in it instead?
Exclusively found in World 5-3, the shoe's previous occupant was the humble Goomba. If Mario defeats Goomba's Shoe from below, Mario is able to take charge of one. Again defying the laws of size, Mario is able to jump into a shoe in order to easily traverse the hazards of a level, including spikes and spiny enemies. An unconventional method of using footwear, but it obviously works for Mario.
In the world of Mega Man, what do you do when even your perfect, robotic body can't get you around well enough? Use the perfect, robotic body of a dog instead!
One of the Mega Man series' greatest draws is the fact that so many powerups are at your disposal. In the third instalment, we are introduced to his robotic, canine sidekick Rush. Mega-Man's-Best-Friend (harharhar) allows our titular hero to do tricks previously unknown: he can jump higher, he can fly around the map, and he can travel underwater. How's that for multi-talented? Nothing says I love you more than loyally standing by to help the hero get to his next destination, no matter what the cost.
Due to the nature of the beast, the Grand Theft Auto series is full to the brim with vehicles that no one else in their right mind would bother programming into their other games. Dustbin lorries, street sweepers, Hot Dog vans, pizza delivery scooters and seaplanes are all at our disposal, meaning that choosing one from the series was difficult. But then I realised what my personal favourite was: the ice cream truck. Jingly, jingly, jingly.
On the surface, one can't imagine a more innocent vehicle. Serve ice cream to the kids, then drive on away. Yet in one mission in GTAIII, an ice cream van must be rigged with explosives, meaning that the innocent jingle turns a quiet street into a blood bath. Which, in all honesty, is strangely satisfying. A fantastic vehicle and one I wouldn't mind seeing as a Tycoon game.
Returning to the grandaddy series of the RPG genre, it was no mean feat choosing one particular unique mode of transport that wasn't a real animal. Chocobos seemed the obvious choice, but our favourite chicken/ostrich hybrid cannot compete against the hulking great elephantine mess that is the Shoopuf.
A ridiculously named creature, the Shoopuf is enourmous and controlled by weird axolotl-esque creatures known as the Hypello. Used for ferrying weary travellers across the expanse of the Moonflow, their sheer size allows for them to carry passengers with easy above the deep, technology-strewn waters. As it looks so ludicrous, and with it being featured in only two games, it was an easy decision to choose the Shoopuf.
Minor Spoilers for Final Fantasy VIII incoming.
So your school is about to be attacked by an invading army's barrage of missiles. The attack cannot be stopped and you only have prayer and hope on your side to try and find a way out. Suddenly, you find the controls you are looking for, and the school lifts clean out of the ground out of harm's way, enabling you to travel around in style. Wait, what?
Balamb Garden is a military academy, and the first location you visit. Little did the party know that the base was once an ancient 'shelter', a means for the Centra civilisation to get around the world. Balamb Garden returned to being fully operational, and allows the party access to most of the world for the first time. How one can control such a massive complex with a tiny control stick I don't know, but it works, and it makes it a unique transportation spectacle.
Now, I could have easily chosen Yoshi for number 1. He's a green, happy and obscenely loyal dinosaur with the ability to breath fire: what's there that's not unique? But then I thought harder; other games feature dinosaurs (Crash Bandicoot: Warped springs to mind), and so I have given the accolade to a far more unusual mode of transport: the cloud.
Now, what's special about clouds? That's right: if you would try and climb into one you'd find out too late when you would be a slimy mess on the ground below. Yet Super Mario World allows our insane protagonist to get on board a Cloud - a cloud that had previously held a murderous Lakitu - and use it to reach previously inaccessible parts of the terrain. Frankly, the logical absurdity of this means it has to be my number 1.
I must admit I absolutely loved writing this Top 10. It made me appreciate just how much creativity there is in the gaming industry, and how much effort the creators go to make their worlds so vibrant and fascinating. That stems purely from their ability to create transport that literally takes you away to another world, of absurdity or otherwise. If you spot any other weird and wonderful methods of transport in games do let me know: I'd love to find out more!
1) Toy Moogle (FFVII) - Cait Sith's means of getting around. There is nothing more satisfying than using the Transform limit break and him turning three times the size. And you gotta love his little fortune teller jig!
2) Turtle (Seiken Densetsu/FFVI) - Turtles are the awkward teens of the animal world due to their floppy little fins, and so imagining them carry humans is a hilarious prospect.
3) Pokemon (Pokemon) - From flying to swimming to diving, Pokemon have always have the ability to carry the trainer forward to the next town.
List by sirloinestake (09/25/2013)
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