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A little while back I wrote a list called Ornithophobia, about particularly antagonistic avians you're likely to encounter in video games. As a result, I feel like I've demonized our feathered friends a little too much. I mean, sure, they're an absolute pain in Ninja Gaiden, but they've been big helps too. Sort of.

The following is a list of games that feature loyal bird companions, or those who have lent their assistance in some manner. We couldn't have beaten these games without them. Or at least, we wouldn't have received some really cryptic advice that may or may not have actually contributed to the success of the adventure in any meaningful way. But hey, at least they're helping, rather than knocking us off a precarious platform to our ninja-ey demise. I'll take some plodding drivel about the Triforce over that any day.

(As always, feel free to post your own suggestions in the comments below and I'll be sure to add 'em. Unless they're from Chrono Cross.)

List items

  • The irascible Crow takes some cajoling, but many puzzles of the Longest Journey require his mastery of the air to solve. Which basically boils down to "go up here because I can't reach this thing". He doesn't complain though. Well, all right, he complains a lot.

  • Harvey's loyal purple eagle Avenger is capriciously depicted as a loyal companion, an aggressive and dangerous bird of prey who kills and eats small dogs like Scrappy Doo and as Harvey's put-upon legal secretary, depending on the situation.

  • It's arguable how much easier Cedric the Owl makes King's Quest V to complete. He certainly makes you want to beat the game quicker. Sure, he does point out what things might kill you, but given this is a Sierra game that's pretty much almost everything.

  • Skye's another like Crow who occasionally appears when he's needed. He's also a damn good fighter for his age and is a calming influence on the impulsive Ryudo.

  • I'm not going to include mounts as a general rule, or I'll be here all day. That Link's relationship with his unusually red-hued Loftwing is played almost as strongly as his kinship with his horse Epona makes it stand out a little more. That big red pelican is always there to catch you at the very least.

  • Yeah, I know, this one's kind of a stretch. Falco's always there to lend a talon when it's needed, but like many birds on this list isn't necessarily happy about doing so.

  • Mordecai's spotter is Bloodwing, an intelligent bird from an endangered species presumably from a planet other than Pandora. It runs into a spot of trouble in the sequel, but he's a useful guy (or gal, since it seems to change by Borderlands 2) to have around.

  • Given Skies of Arcadia is filled to the crow's nest with pirates, you'd expect one of them to have a parrot. The Han Solo-ish Gilder has one such parrot (or toucan?) named Willy who helps him break out of prisons. As pets go, it's not quite as helpful as Fina's shapeshifting blob weapon thing Cupil, but any bird that can assist in a jailbreak is a friend indeed.

  • Kaepora Gaebora is, like Cedric, not necessarily a desired presence. He is there to help, however, and many a new player unaccustomed to the world of Zelda should heed his advice for newbies. It's unknown whether he's the same owl that popped up earlier in Link's Awakening. I think it's safer to assume that every owl in Hyrule is a self-satisfied know-it-all.

  • Sazh's baby chocobo is cute and all, but one has to wonder what Nomura was thinking by creating a black male character with an afro perfect for birds to live in. I also have to wonder why someone decided that the baby chocobo should grow up to be a humanoid dimension-hopping merchant wearing a super-revealing chocobo costume. You'd have thought that after 13 of these things I'd stop questioning stuff like this.

  • Yes, yes there's a bird in this game too. She's called Kazooie. She also complains a lot. I should've written a list about dog companions instead, they rarely complain (though they do whine).