Winner (tie): Hootle (Tales of Arise)
Mascot characters: you either love them or hate them. If done wrong, they can break the mood of a game (hi, Bienfu from Tales of Berseria). However, the great ones melt your heart every time they are on screen, and that’s exactly what Hootle does in Tales of Arise! He is Rinwell’s best friend and quickly becomes part of the entire party’s family. Whether he is (deservedly) attacking Law or sitting atop Rinwell’s head, his presence is always a hoot (don’t hit me!).
by Tyler Trosper
Winner (tie): Palamutes (Monster Hunter Rise)
The Monster Hunter series has featured sassy cat allies since the original 2004 PS2 game, called Felynes or Palicoes depending on their role. Naturally, the next step in Capcom animal husbandry was to let the dogs out. Palamutes are large wolf-dogs that serve as players’ noble steeds, able to sprint, leap, and climb swiftly in Monster Hunter Rise without worrying about any pesky stamina meter. Palamutes are such fun and useful canine (Canyne?) companions that it’s hard to go back to prior dog-free MonHun games. And look at those cute little faces!
by Michael Sollosi