Last year, we had not one, but two Top 10 dog lists here at GameSkinny. To balance things out, here's a list featuring gaming's very best of what's really the greatest animal out there: cats, the stars of YouTube videos and meme images all across the internet.
And you can forget posers like Big the Cat or Bubsy the Bobcat; we're going to discuss the true feline stars of gaming. Who ranks among the greatest of gaming cats? The cutest? The fuzziest? The weirdest? Join us to see which cantankerous kitties made the cut.
1. Palicoes (Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate)
The Felynes of Monster Hunter have never been afraid to hunt down meownsters, but their role as Palicoes in last year's Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate touched our hearts. Palicoes accompany the player right from the beginning, and can be customized with a wide variety of weapons and costumes. There's nothing quite as cathartic as being accompanied by a talking, fighting cat while on the prowl.
Oh, did I mention the existence of Sunset Isle, a Palico paradise where Felynes can engage in mini-games? Best of all: they can equip armor borrowed from famous video game characters via DLC. I mean, let's face it: who doesn't love dressing up their cats?
2. The Cat Who Swims on the Ground (EarthBound Beginnings)
Ninten meets a number of enigmatic figures in the mystical Magicant, be it evil tree stumps, a legendary bard, a forgotten man...and yes, swimming cats. You can spot a couple swimming in the enchanted realm's waters, but it's The Cat Who Swims on the Ground that captivates us. Just how did it master the art of swimming through Magicant's cloudy landscape, and is it as blissful as it looks?
Even more impressive is how it can swim with only one paw above the ground, and so it engages Ninten in a guessing game: what does it have in the paw below? Rumors say it'll only give a prize to a girl, though.
3. King Tom (Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch)
That's Your Meowjesty, to you! Reigning over the province of Ding Dong Dell, this third-person-speaking cat was a great wizard in his heyday, but you wouldn't know it when we first meet him. Indeed, he's one of the many Other World residents who's fallen under Shadar's Brokenhearted spell, and so we first encounter him lounging about lazily in his throne room. Typical for a housecat, but not so much for a king. It's not until Oliver and Drippy cure his broken heart that he repays his debt by handing Oliver his old wand, setting his first real step as a full-fledged wizard.
By the way, they say every Other World denizen has a soulmate in the Real World, like two sides of the same coin. Could Oliver know King Tom's counterpart back in Motorville? Possible, but as seen above, Ding Dong Dell has something of a rat problem, so it's best not to linger on that...or is it?
4. Tangy (Animal Crossing)
Is there any cat in all of Animal Crossing more fascinating than Tangy? As much as I remain amused by Rover's stalking train hopping, all it takes is one look at Tangy's head to start asking questions. What's with all pores? The leaf sprouting between her ears? Was she actually born as a half-cat, half-orange hybrid, or was it plastic surgery gone horribly, horribly wrong?
I realize I'm asking this in a series where villagers can be robot frogs and mummy dogs, but those have logical answers: Ribbot was just built that way, and Lucky might've had a terrible accident. We get no such answer from Tangy, but in any case, she might want to watch out: villagers with the "lazy" personality are known to get pretty hungry, reeOWR.
5. Jibanyan (Yo-Kai Watch)
Paws of Fury! Jibanyan, the mascot of Level 5's Yo-Kai Watch series, is one of the first ghostly Yo-Kai you'll come across. A fire-breathing, two-tailed kitty, Jibanyan was once a cat named Rudy in a past life, until he was fatally run over by a truck. But a kitty's grudge runs deep; even now, he tries to challenge the truck that killed him, but fails every time. Why exactly does he go to such lengths? I'd tell you, but I'm getting chocked up just thinking about it...
Yo-Kai Watch has been gradually gaining momentum since it launched in Western territories last year, but apparent reports of its slowing down in Japan have dispelled any notions of Jibanyan taking down Pikachu. Whatever the case, I just can't get enough of his dancing animation while charging his Soultimate. It's so purrfectly adorable.
6. Cat Goomba (Super Mario 3D World)
I'm sorry, I know Cat Toad is the cutest of Super Mario 3D World's catfolk, but in my heart I know Cat Goomba is the greatest of them all. They're not just cute; their newfound jumping prowess is so fearsome that even Luigi is too panicked to fight back!
...But that's just Luigi; actually, if he musters up the courage to fight back, he'll discover they're still defeated in one stomp. But they still try hard with their new feline persona, and that melts my heart enough to make me want one of my own. Seriously, why haven't they made a Cat Goomba plushie yet?
7. Katz (Tales of Symphonia)
This one might be cheating, although we never learn what exactly Katz are. In any case, they're a pot-bellied cat-like race who occupy nearly every town in the world of Tales of Symphonia, offering treasure hunting services and mini-game fun. There's even a hidden Katz Village in the far corners of Sylvarant, serving as a cozy little hamlet full of goods.
Racism is quite the heavy theme in Tales of Symphonia, as citizens of both Sylvarant and Tethe'alla fall prey to anti-Half-Elf propaganda. Thankfully, it would appear Symphonia's world is populated with cat lovers, as they embrace the mysterious nature of Katz with open arms. Just look at how touched they are when they help rebuild Luin!
8. Judd (Splatoon)
Everyone can't get enough of the kids and squids of Splatoon, but us cat lovers know who the real star is: the referee, Judd. The corpulent kitty oversees the Inklings' Turf Wars, raising and dropping flags in stupefied awe to whoever, respectively, won or lost. But when he's not busy judging, you'll find him in Inkopolis Plaza doing what every cat does best: napping.
In this world of aquatic-human hybrids, it's refreshing to see a full-blooded mammal within Splatoon's colorful cast. But why is that the case? The answer may lie in the Sunken Sea Scrolls, which imply a past that'd make any cat owner's heart break...
9. Nago the Cat (Kirby's Dream Land 3)
Yes, that is a cat! His one and only Kirby appearance lies in Kirby's Dream Land 3 for the SNES, where he's one of many animal buddies that aid the puffball's quest. Some get a bit creative with how they accompany Kirby; in Nago's case, he rolls him along like a ball.
Animal buddies can channel Kirby's Copy Abilities to concoct devastating attacks, and Nago is no exception. So, what can he do? Well, in the case of Spark, he paws Kirby with enough static electricity that it is dangerous to the touch. Then there's Clean, where Kirby turns into a cloth and Nago slides on him to plow into enemies. And, my personal favorite: Stone, where he picks up Stone Kirby and repeatedly slams him into the ground with earthquake-level force. It's great.
10. Toro and Kuro (Sony)
These two cats aren't from a specific game, but they operate as Sony mascots for their gaming platforms. Toro Inoue, the white one, tries his best to act like a human, while Kuro, the black one, is his bully of a rival rival with something of a perverted streak. Their follies aside, taking just one look at their faces will give you the warm fuzzies
These mascots mainly function as such in Japan, but we've seen them several times in the Western sphere. Pictured above is their playable appearance in Street Fighter x Tekken; not a game loved by many, but their theme song is just too cute.
11. Meowth (Pokémon)
Meowth, that's right! Several cat-inspired Pokémon have debuted throughout the years, but none are nearly as iconic as Meowth. Just look at his resume: he's the Team Rocket poster child, is one of the few talking Pokémon, had his own GameCube tech demo (Meowth's Party, where he rocked out with a groovin' guitar), is a PokéBall summon in Smash Bros., the list goes on. Granted, half of those come from the anime, but it's helped propelled him into stardom, regardless.
Meowth's signature attack, Pay Day, comes quite in handy for Pokémon Trainers in need for cash. In what are probably the funds its gathered from its nightly prowls, Meowth showers the opponent with coins, some of which go to the player's wallet. Whoever said cats can't make money?
12. Crono's Cat (Chrono Trigger)
Imagine a sunbaked morning, with your head buried beneath the warm covers as your fur baby is curled up within your arms. Granted, Crono's Cat chooses to rest beside a nearby waste bucket, but he still represents the ideal cat: a loving companion who'll never leave your side. Just look at how he follows Crono around the house!
Crono's Cat is hardly seen throughout the game, yet its role is potentially the biggest of the game's cast. It influences Chrono Trigger's default ending, and winning a certain game at the Millennial Fair will win you more cat food...which attracts more cats. If the mischief of various cats throughout the game are any indication, looks like those sunbaked mornings are about to get a lot more lively for Crono.
And so ends this list. Yes, that is a cat cuddled up with a copy of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. That's Fukurashi, the cat of Masahiro Sakurai (Kirby, Super Smash Bros.) and whose hilarious adventures are cataloged in these two Twitter albums. In case you're hopping mad your favorite gaming kitty didn't show up, I'd highly recommend checking them out to soothe your soul.
Did your favorite feline miss the cut? Let us know in the comments below!