Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lousy’s Top 10 Video Game Bromances (Featuring Ultraguy)

We are 90% certain that ‘bro-est’, ‘brodom’, ‘bro-ing’, ‘broski’, and ‘bro-ness’ are all real words.

Lousy: Video games being the ultimate of artistic mediums are chalk full of memorable character interactions. Chief among them are good old fashion friendships. But every now and then one of these friendships goes beyond friendship. It transcends the Stairs of Brodacious Unity, strolls through the Halls of Brohalla, and becomes something entirely new. It becomes a Bromance!
Having seen the glory of these bromantic relationships first-hand it is my duty to catalogue them. But what would a list about Bromances be without the Ultra-bro himself, Ultraguy!
Ultra: Thanks Lousy and glad to be here.

*Bro fists*

I have to say I love bromances a lot myself. While I’m sure DeviantArt, Tumblr, and would disagree, not all worthwile relationships have to be romantic in nature. There’s a lot to be learned for a good old fashion friendship, and this trope is prevalent enough in fiction to even gets its own TV Tropes page. A lot of the characters listed may be colored by our own taste and personal knowledge, but hopefully you see something interesting enough in their relationships to check them out in their main media.

Oh and given the occasion

…...cue the music!


1. We’re going to slightly change up the definition of bromances, and say friendships between 2 females are allowed too. As long as the friendship is between 2 individuals of the same sex it’s fair game. After all, you don’t have to be a dude to be a bro.

2. This is a list of ‘Bromances’. By that we mean a, “close, but non-sexual and non-romantic relationship between 2 characters of the same sex or gender”. There’s certainly nothing wrong with romantic or sexual relationships between 2 individuals of the same sex, but they are something different.

3. We have no doubt several people headcanon at least one of these ‘friendships’ as, ‘more than just friends’, and that’s perfectly fine. However, unless there’s outright confirmation that any of these characters are ‘more than friends’ we’re sticking to our guns regarding them just being ‘bromantic’.

4. We can’t really delve into these super-manly, totally platonic relationships without going into spoilers. You’ve been warned.

5. Bonus points if there’s an actual love-interest who is hilariously overshadowed by the sheer amount of bro-ing between the 2 bros.

6. One bromance per-franchise.

Honorable Mention

X and Zero (Megaman X)

Ultra: Personally I was never that big of a fan of Zero (shoot me I know), but I do find his relationship with X to be interesting. The fact they were more or less built with the intention of opposing goals (destroying and saving the world), but chose to work together as partners is very admirable. I’d also say that them keeping their bromance up for 100s of years was pretty cool. Heck X’s life sucks so badly, he probably wouldn’t have been able to survive the X series or Zero series emotionally if he didn’t have Zero around.

Lousy: While this bromance comes in the ‘soldierly bond’ variety that is pretty common in video games, X and Zero make it work. X is the more optimistic and morally minded of the two, to the point that he was programmed with a moral center, while Zero is the more stoic, uncaring, and ‘edgy’ (but in a good way) of the two. Sure, Zero has barated X for being too pacifistic, but he was also the motivation for him to get stronger in the earlier games.

So, despite their differences in methods and morals, they get along pretty well. As long as they are both there to hunt for Mavericks, both X and Zero will always know WHAT THEY’RE FIGHTING FOOOOOOR! And of course, fanboys/girls can’t get over the fact that Zero kind of looks like a girl...

10. The Heavy and The Medic (Team Fortress 2)

Art credited to wn-dr.

Lousy: For all the emphasis Team Fortress 2 has on teamwork, there are only 2 character classes I ever thought liked one another. The Heavy and DOK-TOR of course. Their friendship originated solely from the fact that they work very effectively together, and at first was almost entirely fanon. Then Valve made it canon, with their Meet The Medic video, and the oh-so ubiquitous statement, “I love this doctor!”.

Name me one character among the Team Fortress 2 cast, nay, in all of fiction, who can pinch The Heavy’s cheek and call him a baby without getting said hand ripped off and jammed down their throat. Only the guy who shares silly anecdotes about losing his medical license with him, that’s who! Granted, The Medic seems to see The Heavy as more of a guinea pig than a friend, but the few quotes that exist involving them, plus their funny interactions and well-established gameplay compatibility gives the feeling that The Heavy is at least a guinea pig The Medic won’t immediately murder. Though he will allow said guinea pig’s innards to be used as a bird bath.

They’re a pretty hilariously odd match too, given that they hail from countries that were fighting a bitter world war several years before the era Team Fortress 2 takes place. Either way, the brute force of The Heavy combined with the healing of The Medic makes this one of those friendships that was practically destined to happen thanks to the laws of gameplay.
Ultra: I’m not a huge fan of Team Fortress, but even I can see the opposites attract angle of a hulking brute character and a supportive medical character. The trailers that Lousy posted also show a much more comedic nature to their relationship that makes them a lot more fun to see on screen together than a lot of the other people on this list. I also think Valve making a fanon relationship canon is pretty cool.

9. Jak and Daxter (Jak and Daxter)

Ultra: Daxter may be a bit of a jerk on occasion, but he’s always come through when Jak’s or the world has actually needed him. Likewise, Jak may have become a lot colder after his torture in Jak 2, but he’s never stopped having a soft spot for his best friend Daxter. Them choosing to stay together in what was pretty much a dystopian future, and Daxter actually traveling with Jak into all sorts of dangerous territories despite his lack of combat abilities really nails down their friendship.

Lousy: Jak and Daxter’s relationship fits the, ‘hilariously overshadows the actual love interest(s)’ rule to a T. There’s some romantic sub-plot between Jak and his childhood friend, Keira, but it’s all pretty much overlooked in favor of Jak’s relationship with his smarmy Ottsel sidekick (as it should be). That’s not to say Jak’s love-interests are ‘bad’ per-say, they just don’t have the same impact as the guy who fights alongside him (despite Daxter being pretty useless a lot of the time). Like Ultra said, Daxter is kind of a dick, but any guy who will search for his best bud for 2 years straight is a bro worth having.

8. Sora and Riku

Ultra: You sure this is a bromance? Cause that’s not what all fanart on DeviantArt tells me.

Lousy: Eh, I’m pretty sure gay fan-art of every pairing on this list exists somewhere on DeviantArt.

Ultra: True

Lousy: Creepy fanart aside, Sora and Riku have a pretty solid bromance going on. Not even jealousy over a giant magical key-shaped beating stick can keep these 2 from being friends. Granted, the Keyblade and their lady-friend Kairi creates a bit of divide between them at first, but you know what they say about bros before hoes (and magical beating sticks).

For as much of a mess as the main story to Kingdom Hearts is, the main characters are typically likeable, and Sora and Riku’s relationship was always my favorite in terms of character interaction. Hilariously, they’re chemistry overshadows the relationship between Sora and his blatant love-interest, Kairi. It might seem easy for Sora to act cool around Riku when he’s the big special protagonist, but even when Riku passes the Mark of Mastery Exam and he doesn’t, Sora remains super ecstatic about the whole affair and his friend’s triumph.
I’ve always seen that as the ultimate sign of how close the 2 are. Creating fanfare over an accomplishment made by a friend and acting just as happy as you would if you yourself made the accomplishment is something achievable only through the power of Bro-ness. Add in the separate, but connected way both of them went through the events of Dream Drop Distance, and you got our #8 bromance.

Ultraguy: Anyway, I kinda have to agree with the idea that Riku overshadows Kiari to an extent. He has much more presence in the Kingdom Hearts story (being playable at multiple points helps), and his fall into darkness and Sora’s attempts to bring him back from that pretty much define the plot of the first game. Of course Riku returned the favor in 2, since that plot pretty much was set off by him trying to save Sora from being forced to stay in a comatose state.

That being said, Riku being willing to delve into some morally murky water when it came to capturing Xion and Roxas after they absorbed fragments of Sora’s memories in order to get Sora out of said coma was a bit questionable.

… But it’s the thought that counts I guess.

7. Link and Groose (The Legend of Zelda)

Ultra: The relationship between these two reminds me a lot of Flash Thompson and Spiderman. Yeah Groose was kinda a bully to start, but by the end of the game he really mellows out. What’s more, Groose actually does have several heroic traits and becomes an ally of Link over the course of the story, eventually accepting Link’s superiority in the realm of heroics.

Now to be fair I wouldn’t call them best buds, but they definitely gained a great bond by Skyward Sword’s end. I know I at least came to respect groose a lot after he created several contraptions that made the “imprisoned” boss fights much easier , or when he decided to risk his own safety to save Zelda from a bad fall towards the end of the game.

Lousy: Yeah, they’re definitely not the traditional definition of bros, but let’s be real here, sometimes even the best bro can be a huge dick. And sometimes someone who ends up being one of the bestest of bros can be a complete dick to you at first. Groose fits both bills, but remains fairly high on the bro-ness metric. He steals Link’s loftwing, is crazy jealous over Link’s relationship with Zelda, and is pretty much that asshole jock you see in high school comedies through the first ⅓ of Skyward Sword.

None of that matters though because by the end of it all he and Link end up being pretty tight. And to be fair, can you blame Groose for harboring jealousy towards the big, noble Hero of Time who gets most of the glory? If you can you’re dumb, but even if you do you still can’t hate him thanks to a glorious thing called ‘Character Development’. Groose learns to accept his place in life, stop being mopey over Zelda, and help out for a change.

This bromance doesn’t have the greatest amount of depth to it (partially because Link can’t talk), but is still notable just for how far Link and Groose transition from rivals over Zelda’s attention (albeit, a rivalry that is one-sided) to true friends who know how to work together for the greater good. 

6. Koromaru Naegi and Toko Fukawa (Dangan Ronpa)

Lousy: It’s only during the toughest of times that the oddest of bros come together. And what better time than a genocidal hunting game carried out by a bunch of shit-kids to bring 2 people together? Toko and Koro have their differences, to the point that quite a bit of their early dialogue consists of Toko insulting Koro’s taste in literature, and Koro trying to teach her to not be a complete social shut-in.

As with many friendships though they do change each other for the better. Well, Koro still reads shitty light novels, but Toko is definitely less of a social train-wreck, comes to terms with the whole ‘I have a serial killer alter-ego’, and Koro at the very least becomes more self-confident. By the end they’ve been through so much that Toko more or less gives up seeing the man she has an unhealthy (to put it lightly) obsession with so she can help Koro fix a horribly fucked up dystopian city. Granted, Toko claims she’s still going to see Byakuya again, but fuck it, she’s far better off with Koro than that rich, pompous prick.

Dangan Ronpa: Ultra Despair Girls has… Problems, but the chemistry between Toko and Koromaru made the game for me. They are eternal proof that when you’re stuck in a robot-bear apocalypse and are fighting against sociopathic kids, even a bitchy, high-profile novelist with a serial killer alter-ego can be a bro.
Ultra:  …..By problem you don’t mean Loli Satan, do you?

Lousy: Among other things.

Ultra: Er-anyway, yes, Toko was very awkward in the first Dangan Ronpa game. She didn’t really get along with most of the rest of the cast, or really became “friends” with them to any extent. To be honest I myself can’t really say I liked her. I could empathize with social awkwardness, but not the serial killer stuff, and level of boy obsession that puts Amy Rose to shame.

Lousy: Yeah, Toko is one of my favorite Dangan Ronpa characters, but I have to admit it’s largely because of how far she comes in Ultra Despair Girls.

Ultra: That being said some of the much needed character development she got along with Koro really made me change my mind on her. Koro herself also deserves a lot of credit for dealing with so much fucked up bullshit in Ultra Despair Girls, and for forging a friendship with Toko when almost nobody else could.

They almost seem to be a better “couple” (finger quotes) by the end of the game than Toko’s actually love interest, Byakuya. Though like Lousy said Byakuya is kinda a prick and Toko’s obsession with him wasn’t very healthy to begin with. So it’s not really hard to outdo it in most ways.

5. Cole MacGrath and Zeke Dunbar (Infamous)

Lousy: "The only 3 B's I know are 'boobs, beer, and mechanical bulls". That right there, that’s the quote of a bro if I’ve seen one. And it’s the bro-ness of that bro that I think functions as the glue that holds the first 2 Infamous games’ stories together so well.

In a game where Cole is quite literally trying to make himself as edgy as possible, his interactions with Zeke (in the good path at least) made for some much needed uplifting moments, and welcome comic relief. Having 2 bros who seemed to genuinely care about each other did wonders from preventing the narratives of Infamous and Infamous 2 from becoming too gritty for its own good. I mean, it is really fun to be an evil bastard, and the Evil Cole powers are WAY cooler than the Good Cole powers, but I could never bring myself to fully committing to the side of evil in the games knowing Zeke would eventually die if I did. It’s very rare for me to care about one character enough to the point that I will avoid being a genocidal asshole just to keep him alive.

There’s one bit from Infamous 2 when Cole gains one of the last blast cores that I think perfectly encapsulates his and Zeke’s relationship. The writers could have used the ‘blast core activation’ cutscene to dump some exposition on the player, bring up a new plot-point, or make a big emotional scene between Cole and Zeke. Instead, they just have the 2 of them drink beer and watch a dumb western on TV. And it is the best thing said writers could have done!
Sure, Zeke pulled the whole, ‘I attempted to give myself superpowers at the risk of several-thousand people dying, and inadvertently got my friend’s girlfriend killed’ schtick. But he more than redeems himself. Not only does he save Cole twice, but he’s always there to help him out whenever shit hits the fan, and provides some genuinely good emotional support. And let’s be honest, if your best friend had super-cool, electro-doom powers, you would probably attempt to steal them for yourself too if given the chance.

Oh, and there’s that side mission where Zeke makes Cole unwittingly transmit a dating-site style add for himself across all of New Marais. Ha! Zeke, am I right folks?

Ultra: I have to agree with Lousy here. Yes, Zeke does betray you and fuck a lot of stuff up in the first game, but the lengths which he goes through to make up for it in the second is well deserved forgiveness in my eyes. Whether it was creating the melee amp weapon for you, acting as your HQ throughout much of the game, the overall emotional support, ETC. He really stepped up his game. Also while Cole tends to show his thankfulness a lot more when you play as the good guy, the fact that he still shows Zeke respect and clearly hesitates to end his life in the villain route really cements how strong their bond really was.

4. Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth (Ace Attorney)

Ultra: It’s amazing how well two people can work together despite having opposing jobs. I mean yeah, Phoenix and Miles like each other and are childhood friends, but it can be hard to see a defense attorney and prosecutor actually cooperating on murder cases, especially in Japanese culture.
Regardless, it’s always nice to go toe to toe with Miles in the courtroom, knowing he has Phoenix’s back. The devotion Phoenix has shown towards Miles is also really admirable, having defended him in court of occasion before and even having chosen his profession specifically due to concerns of rumors of Miles prosecutors exploits back in college. Pheonix is probably one of the few people who can get him to loosen up outside the courtroom, which is pretty heartwarming given Miles has a pretty hardened tsundere attitude most of the time.

Lousy: Ultra knows what’s up. You gotta love the paradox of a defense attorney and a prosecutor, 2 opposing sides to a very convoluted series of court cases, being good friends through it all. I’ve always enjoyed the history Wright and Edgeworth had with one another. Edgeworth is more or less the reason Phoenix ended up being a lawyer, and yet by the time Wright has passed the Bar Exam all he finds is Edgeworth’s once passionate drive towards defending others in court has been replaced by a cynical, pompous dick with a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ philosophy.
But Edgy just needed a good friend to remind him of what he once strived for… Well, a good friend, a false murder accusation, and an existential crisis regarding his view of the court system, but the friendship part definitely played a role in his Great Revival! That’s not to say he’s the only bro in this bromance who’s had his view of the court system challenged. Come the 2nd Ace Attorney game, Phoenix has to face the same core philosophical conundrum Edgeworth did. And just like how Wright helped Edgeworth so too does Edgy help Wright.

In my eyes Phoenix and Edgeworth’s friendship works so much not just because of how much respect they have towards each other’s different professions, but because they represent the court system at its ideal: Two attorneys debating each other to the bitter end, striving for success in 2 very different ways, but ultimately looking for a single truth.

3. Ike and Soren (Fire Emblem)

Between how manly Ike is and how girly Soren looks you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for Guts and Griffith. Except in this case Griffith isn’t a backstabbing piece of shit.

Lousy: Some people might peg Ike and Ranulf as the better friendship, and I respect that, but for this list we (or at least I) had to go with Ike and Soren. After all, among all the allies and friends Ike gains throughout the 2 Radiant games, Soren is the only one who can potentially go journeying to new lands with him when all’s said and done. In a series known for its many possible endings and different character pairings… That definitely garnered some ‘fangirl interest’.

As mentioned in the caption above, Soren isn't a back-stabbing piece of shit, but I'm pretty sure Ike is the sole reason he stuck with the Greil Mercenaries through 2 under-dog wars when the odds were almost always against them. Early on in Path of Radiance he strongly pushes for the Greil Mercenaries to side with the enemy country, Daein, and only begrudgingly agrees to fight for their homeland. Being saved from the brink of starvation by your best friend can do that to you. Actually forget best friend, Soren legitimately considers Ike his only true friend, and his and Ike’s death quotes are very ‘telling’ of who he prioritizes when it comes to survival.

Soren's early childhood was preeetty shit, so he and Ike create a very nice blend of pessimism and optimism respectively. Soren works as the tactician/advisor who keeps Ike’s goals grounded and feasible, and Ike’s works to keep morale high, fight through thick and thin, and to get Soren to stop being such a racist asshole towards the beast-people known as, The Laguz.  Speaking of which, there’s a very touching optional conversation that can be had between these 2 where Soren reveals that he’s a ‘Branded’ (human/Laguz hybrids who are loathed by both societies). How does Ike respond to this? He doesn’t care despite Soren’s persistence in pushing the issue and still fully accepts him for who he is. It’s a wonderful moment that I think solidifies Ike as the friend and bro Soren needed. The bro who would accept him.
Ultra: Personally I’m not too big of a fan of these characters (Chrom and Robin would be the bromance I would chose from Fire emblem), but I can understand the appeal. Outside the fact that there’s subtext for a more serious relationship, it’s always cool to see the softer sides of more serious characters that they wouldn’t normally show outward, incredibly close compassion. It gives a great feeling of depth of personality. This friendship is also reinforced depending on certain requirements by allowing the two to head off on a journey together at the end of radiant dawn, Tales of Symphonia style.

2. Solid Snake and Otacon

Lousy: There are a lot of bromances between a stoic badass and his sissy friend. But none have quite the kick Snake and Otacon have. At first Otacon seemed to be just another helpless hostage Snake had to rescue, but it quickly became clear he was more than just a feeble dork with a bad bladder.

After helping Snake escape from prison with ketchup (if the player hasn’t escaped by that point) and destroy Metal Gear, he and Snake become partners in the business of destroying giant, nuke shooting mechs. Which is the best of bromantic pass-times if you ask me. Given the emotional baggage both of them are carrying around, which includes stuff like PTSD and a fucked up relationship between Otacon and his mother, they became pretty close… And by that I mean REALLY close. There’s a reason I refused to search for images of ‘Snake and Otacon’ and asked HomeStuckLover to do it in my place.

Otacon is the one there to give Snake advice on all things nerdy, the one who helps him when his aging begins to accelerate, and is the one friend who truly sticks with him throughout the Metal Gear Solid series. Hell, David Hayter himself acknowledges the bond between the two. However, Otacon is more than just Snake’s ‘gay sidekick’. By the end of Metal Gear Solid 4 he’s dedicated to making sure Snake’s legacy is passed on in some way. The idea that the man who helped the world so many times, the man who will disappear with no genes he can pass on, will still have one incredibly nerdy friend to make sure his final days are remembered is truly heartwarming.
It’s this, Snake and Otacon’s humorous banter, and the passionate bro-vibe the two emmit that makes them so memorable. If all of that isn’t enough, what is the very last word Solid Snake will ever canonically say in a Metal Gear Solid game (that matters)? This.

Ultra:  I’m pretty sure every character in Metal Gear has a somewhat homoerotic moment. Kojima was a bit weird on that.

Lousy: Yeah, but I don’t see Big Boss and Kaz adopting a kid together.

…… Er anyway

This is a pretty unorthodox friendship at first, but it actually works. Hal has a lot of smarts/tech and Snake has a lot of guns, punching abilities, and stealth. They work together quite well due to that, in a fashion not too dissimilar to the Heavy and Medic. Of course Hal actually willing to put himself and his family in more direct risk on several occasions to help Snake and give him emotional support is commendable as well. Snake himself is also pretty hardened and slow to trust given his violent and conspiracy-filled background. So him finding a friend in anybody and even being willing to live out his final days with the guy is amazing.

1. Yu and Yosuke & Chie and Yukiko (Shin Megami Tensei Persona)

No homo guys.

Ultra: This is probably my favorite bromance on the list. Some people might dislike Yosuke because of his questionable perverted tendencies and constant ribbing towards Kanji, but there’s no question he's the most reliable bro out of the Persona 4 cast. He and Yu tend to be the ones who most easily worked out the mysteries of Persona 4, particularly before Naoto got added into the mix. Yosuke is typically the first to save Yu when he’s in trouble, and the last to leave during times of parting.

They also have the best team synergy out of the group, with Yosuke even taking on Yu’s role as “leader” to an extent in the manga version of Persona 4 Arena when the latter went down for the count during a fight with another character.
Oh and on the other note of Persona 4, Chie and Yukiko also have a similarly interesting relationship, which actually ends up being a focal point of one of the games storylines. They actually fostered secret feelings of jealousy and co-dependence towards each other, which came out very negatively in their “shadow selves” (alternate versions of a character encompassing the traits they don’t want to acknowledge). However throughout the story they managed to confront these personal issues, and ended up having a deeper and more reliable relationship because of it. In fact I think it’s fair to say they’re probably the closest members on the investigation team outside Yu and Yosuke themselves.

Lousy: Persona 4 has been labelled by many, unfairly so in my opinion, as a 'waifu simulator'. I say unfairly because I always found the most interesting relationships in the game to be the platonic ones between the same gendered characters. We can't decide between these 2 particular relationships so we’re making one exception to the franchise rule, and are talking about both.
As far as the first friendship goes, there’s a reason Yosuke’s nickname is ‘Brosuke’. He starts off as a basic butt-monkey, getting himself stuck in trash cans, getting nut-kicked by Chie, and generally coming across as way more inept than Pimp-Master Yu Narukami. But that quickly changes when the girl Yosuke has a crush on dies, he learns said girl secretly hated him, and Yu learns that Yosuke has a biiiiit of pent up hatred towards the small town his family moved to due to its dullness and everyone hating the large business his family manages. It’s all good though, because Yosuke learns to acknowledge his dislike of the town he lives with, and eventually comes to like the place thanks to the companionship of Yu and the rest of the investigation team.
Not only that, but when Yosuke becomes jealous of how much more swagalicous Yu is the 2 have the sensibility to work out any avarice they have towards one another the best way possible: By beating the shit out of each other! It might not sound like the best way for friends to work out animosity, but the way both of them care about their friendship enough to fight one another to keep it stable is genuinely touching.

Chie and Yukiko have a similar thing going for them. They may very well be the deeper bromance given how much of their internal conflict is reliant on each other. Does Chie’s jealousy towards Yukiko detract from their bromance? No! Because deep down Chie still genuinely cares about her. That’s made abundantly clear from her Social Link, and how nervous she is when Yukiko disappears suddenly. They’re friends who are willing to look at and confront the uglier side of their relationship (after being rescued from a Dominatrix Banana Head at least)

Everything from the silly shenanigans they both get into, to the common goal of solving Persona 4’s murder mystery that they both strive towards make these friendships the super bro-est bros in all of brodom!
That wraps up this bromantic list. Feel free to mention any totally platonic relationships you enjoy in the comments below. I want to thank Ultraguy again for being a bro and agreeing to collaborate on this list with me.

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