When it comes to video game character duos, the relationship must be unique and exciting. It’s not always “we’re best pals forever,” because that would be boring. Some character partnerships have lasted the test of time and have been around for decades, while others are relatively new in the grand scheme of things but still stand out as incredible pairings.
Solo characters are great too, but there’s something special about the snarky back-and-forth dialog between a pair of beloved characters. Sometimes there’s no dialog at all, though. It’s just how they work together that makes them fantastic.
Top 5 duos in gaming history, ranked
There are simply far too many great duos when it comes to video games. Though their reasons for working together and even their goals may vary, when it comes down to it, these are just the best video game duos of all time.
Other people’s lists will vary, as such topics are always incredibly subjective. There are hundreds upon hundreds of video game duos to pick from on top of that. Some have murderous intent, like Scorpion and Sub-Zero, while others rely on each other to simply exist, like Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us.
Some are just best pals, like Donkey and Diddy Kong, or Jak and Daxter. But these are the relationships in gaming that stand out the most.
Best duos in Gaming
- Sonic and Tails
- Link and Princess Zelda
- Ken and Ryu
- Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima
- Mario and Luigi
5) Sonic and Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog)
Sonic and Tails are not only the best of friends, they fight together to do battle against the evil of Dr. Eggman/Dr. Robotnik. Miles “Tails” Prower is also a huge fan of Sonic, doing what he can to help the hedgehog get the better of whatever evil terror he is presently facing. Sonic himself is brash, bold, snarky, and witty.
It makes for a fantastic dynamic, paired with the dedication of Tails and his convictions to always do the right thing. Though Tails’ first appearance, in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 made him little more than an extra character, he was still indispensable, saving the main character over and over by helicoptering him out of dangerous situations.
Anywhere you see Sonic these days, you see Tails too, and that’s because their friendship has withstood the test of time. Their budding friendship played out excellently as well in their latest film, Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
4) Link and Princess Zelda (The Legend of Zelda)
“Well excuuuuuuse me, princess!” - Link, The Legend of Zelda animated series.
The Legend of Zelda franchise was one of the first great open-world action RPGs on the NES, and it defined the genre forever. The relationship between Link and Zelda is not quite romantic. There are moments in the series where there is an implied relationship, but more often than not, Link is simply the hero that shows up to save the day.
The animated series showed Link as head-over-heels for Zelda, but no matter what his feelings, Link does the right thing. He would seek out Princess Zelda and save her. The Hyrule timeline is fractured, but no matter where Link finds himself, the two almost inevitably fall into each other’s lives again.
Perhaps one of the things that makes the duo memorable is that the two never seem to share any real romantic feelings for one another. Despite that, the two are intertwined by a fate that neither can ignore.
3) Ken and Ryu (Street Fighter)
Street Fighter II is another game that has completely changed its genre forever. In the Street Fighter franchise, no pairing stands out more than Ryu and Ken, the two martial artists that trained under Gouken.
Childhood friends, the two have a rivalry that will never cease, no matter where the two are, no matter how far apart they are. When Ryu gets lost in the power of Dark Hadou, his best friend is there to try and snap him out of it. Unlike Goku and Vegeta, this friendship is a two-way street. It is one of the many rivalry-themed duos in gaming, but it's one of the best.
Both fighters constantly grow and try to improve, so they can become better martial artists and continue to improve together. It’s a wholesome rivalry, which is a nice change of pace.
2) Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima (Yakuza)
This pairing very nearly made the number 1 spot, to be quite honest. The relationship between Kiryu Kazuma and Goro Majima is one of respect and only slightly homicidal tendencies. The two are friends, with an unmatched rivalry. Goro Majima’s usage of -chan (e.g., Kiryu-chan) when referring to Kiryu denotes a deep fondness for the other.
The two did battle on several occasions, with Kiryu coming out on top in nearly every situation. In Yakuza Kiwami, the “Majima Everywhere” system was introduced and had an in-world reason to exist. Kiryu was fresh out of jail and had lost his touch for combat. So Goro Majima, as his friend, would attack him in the weirdest, most creative ways to help his friend get back in shape.
And Goro Majima would not hesitate to kill in these moments either. If Kiryu couldn’t handle a battle, he likely wouldn’t hesitate to kill his friend. Through their rivalry, Majima would ultimately wind up respecting Kiryu, going from needing to try and murder the man.
Goro Majima found himself attached to Kiryu Kazuma, and it was revealed in Yakuza 4 why. Kiryu was similar to Majima’s former sworn brother. So he decided to help Kiryu no matter what. Out of all the other duos in video games, Kiryu and Majima are truly a special pair.
1) Mario and Luigi
While some of these other relationships are more meaningful, impactful, and sometimes even tragic, it’s hard to forget your first. Mario and Luigi are one of the first major partnerships in gaming, the end of story.
The brothers are almost always in each other’s adventures, working together, and also have a rather special rivalry that only comes from being siblings. Even in Mario’s dreams, Luigi is there to help out, as seen in Super Mario Bros. 2 (Super Mario Bros. USA).
Luigi always has his brother’s back, except in sports/party games, perhaps. Even there, they still care for each other, but in those situations, one of them has to win. It doesn’t create hard feelings, just a need to come out on top. This was also seen in the original Mario Bros. game, where the two were competing to get the most coins first.
Mario and Luigi are always going to stand side by side against Bowser, Wart, and whoever else threatens the safety of the world they find themselves in. This makes them one of the best duos in gaming, period.
There are so many awesome duos in video games, though. With hundreds to choose from, it’s genuinely difficult to figure out which are the best of all time, but this is just one writer’s opinion. Other duos that almost made this list were Cecil and Kain (Final Fantasy IV), Tidus and Yuna (Final Fantasy X), and Donkey/Diddy Kong (Donkey Kong Country). It’s hard to go wrong with any of these fantastic duos.