After our judges and readers have helped us choose the greatest horse, canine, bird, aquatic creature, and reptile/amphibian, this month they helped us decide which virtual feline is the best one of all video games.
Our regular animal judges -- Capcom senior producer Morgan Gray, I Can Has Cheezburger co-founder Tofuburger and Kotaku news editor Leigh Alexander -- are joined by Evan Narcisse, freelance game journalist for Crispy Gamer, Entertainment Weekly and the Washington Post.
And the winner is...
First place for the judges, was Blanca from "Animal Crossing," followed by "Final Fantasy VII'"s Red XIII. There was a two-way tie for third place with Felicia from "Darkstalkers" and Mew 2 from Pokemon. As for Multiplayer readers, there were a lot of votes for various cats, but Blanca was the clear winner. Read on to see who each judge chose and why.
Leigh Alexander, Kotaku:
3. Jeane. ["No More Heroes."] Hi, girl. I found it pretty amazing that in the most comically bloody game we've seen in a bit, the crude, gross protagonist can be made to have tender moments with a tiny cat named after his sister.
2. Lynx. "Chrono Cross" might have had a loose storyline, but there was something about being transformed into that unrecognizable, vaguely sinister feline that just did it for me, a sense of displacement enhanced by probably the best game soundtrack ever. There's a moment later in the game when, if you talk to disconcerted Dragoon Marcy, Lynx will (silently, of course), put his big cat paw on her little blond head. Touching, and I never forgot it.
1. Felicia. ["Darkstalkers."] I think it's enough that she's made us struggle, inwardly, with our own personal "no furries" rule for years, single-handedly motivating (along with "FFXI"'s Mithra and "FFXII"'s Fran) a complete re-drawing of all boundaries in that arena just to accommodate her. Mee-yow.
Morgan Gray, Capcom:
Okay, as is tradition, here comes honorable mention. Felicia from "Darkstalkers" deserves a shout out. Now true, not a real "cat" (thus the honorable mention), she's a solid fighter, has a good mix of attacks, and well, her costume ain't too bad on the eyes. Plus, she's spawned an army of cosplayers to brighten up our conventions.
Bronze: Red XIII – I have a soft spot in my heart for "Final Fantasy 7." Unlike many of you who remember crying when Aeris/Aerith -- whatever you call her -- had a bad day (never really cared, Tifa stole my heart), for me it was Red XIII. As I said before, I love cats, so as is my tradition for every "FF" game, I jumped at the chance to rename this red badass after my cat, who insisted on sleeping on my lap as we played. So like that, Morgan (Cloud), and Thor (Red XIII), went on to kick some ass and quaff a lot of phoenix downs. Good times.
Silver: The Kilrathi - I love "Wing Commander." And no, not the Freddy Prinze travesty with its odd reptile/turtle bad guys. I'm talking good old-fashioned, boot-to-DOS, free-up-some-EMS-memory, wipe-off-the-adlib-sound-card, and purchase-an-expansion-pack-just-for-full-voice "Wing Commander" (I believe the kids call that "old school"). Long before people blew a lid at Luke Skywalker making a CD-ROM game, "Wing Commander 1" blew our minds. Finally, there was a new universe outside of Star Wars (and there was nothing wrong with Star Wars at that time!) that not only allowed for awesome space combat, but told one of the strongest stories games had seen.
And behind the drama -- the Kilrathi. The ultimate space cat enemies. Far above what some would call a feline Klingon rip-off, these guys had cool looking ships, a ranking system based off of claws and fangs, and one of the most bizarre warrior societies ever (they begin to worship you for kicking their furry butts across the universe). I have fond memories of "stealing" a Kilrathi ship and giving them a taste of their own medicine. I miss you guys!
Gold! "Mew 2" – Yes, I love Pokémon, and I always pick one -- I know, what can I say. So some of my love here is due to the fact that it was a pain in the butt for me to get my first Mew 2. But come on!!! He's a clone of one of the cutest video game cats, driven insane by scientific experimentation (okay, that might be a push). He looks awesome, he kicks butt in Pokémon stadium, and if you haven't seen any of the fan videos crunching Pokémon with the "300" trailer on YouTube, believe me, one viewing, and you'll think this guy could beat Galactus. This is also what I picture in my head while playing Pokémon (I need help). So it might be a stretch to call him a "pure cat," but he's cat enough for me. Mew 2... Victory!
Evan Narcisse, Freelance Game Journalist:
Let's get one thing, straight: I'm a dog person. Yes, I've met cats that I like, but they've mostly been weird, off-brand felines. A cat who'd lick your face as a sign of affection. A cat who loves to sit under a running faucet. Cats that only answer to the Spanish versions of their names. I'd call these critters out by name, but I haven't committed them to memory, because, well, I like dogs better. Anyway, I figured that bit of background would help Multiplayer readers understand my choices.
3. Blinx: Blinx and you won't miss it. I remember playing this game when the first Xbox launched. I thought the time-stopping mechanic was cool but found Blinx and his world to be off-putting.
2. Ratchet: You gotta love a catlike humanoid who's so technologically gifted that Tony Stark looks like he just got out of remedial shop class. In the R&C games, our Lombax nominee always seems to be more impetuous than his robotic partner Clank. Ratchet gets my support because that seems very feline to me. Cats don't think about consequences. They just run out the door if you're not vigilant enough, go out, get lost, get into fights and wander home.
1. Blanca: This cipher kitty gets my vote because The Question is one of my favorite philosophical crime-fighters (especially the Denny O'Neil interpretation). Walking around with no face and asking someone to draw you one sounds like a feature from a "Silent Hill" game, so for it to show up in an "Animal Crossing" game of all places makes it even creepier. If you think about in psychoanalytical terms, the face you draw on Blanca is the face you draw on yourself. Deep. Huh?
Tofuburger, I Can Has Cheezburger:
3. Bubsy of "Bubsy: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind" - Bubsy may not be a good game. In fact, I have a huge feeling that if I pulled out the old SNES right now, it would be the opposite of fun, but at the time? Wow, did me and my lil' sis get a huge kick out of all things Bubsy. Which is why, right now, I'm going to go to YouTube and watch all of his death animations in a row.
2. Blanca of "Animal Crossing" - Blanca may either be the origin of lolcats or its future: a cat whose face you can actually write a message on. There's nothing better than spending an hour on that train, carefully scribbling on that cat's face, and then sending it over to your roommate's town. Wait for it... wait for it... Yep, see that face? I totally drew that, buddy. Now stop doing errands for Nook and pay your half of the rent, IRL.
1. Red XIII of "Final Fantasy VII" - "FF7" fans rejoice, Red XIII is the Mr. Spock of Final Fantasies. Cause he's got pointy ears? Well, on the original Playstation, everyone had pointy ears. What I mean is, when Square-Enix finally caves and makes "Final Fantasy 7: The Next Generation," and it takes place 500 years later, and you have to play as Cloud's great, great, great grandson, do you know who's still going to be alive? That's right, Red XIII. Because giant red furballs live, like, fur-ever. Look it up.
In two weeks, the next round of animal-voting begins. We'll be searching for the best...well, that would be spoiling it.