Dad, Dad, Daddy-O: Fathers in Games

It’s Father’s Day again, and what better way to celebrate than to recognize some of the most iconic Dad’s in video games. Can you think of any others worthy of this list? Below are my Top Ten!

10. Taban Ashtear
Chrono Trigger
(SNES, 1995)

Let’s do the super dimension warp again!

Father to the brilliant inventor, Lucca, Taban Ashtear plays an essential role in Chrono Trigger by being the guy who basically kicks off the entire adventure. While showing off his Telepod invention at the Millennial Fair, his demonstration goes awry when a young girl gets sucked through a portal after the machine reacts mysteriously to her pendant. Immediately, our main character, Chrono, volunteers to try to find her, pendant in hand.

“You’re actually going to do it?! What a fine lad!” Taban shouts in astonishment.

You would think Taban would offer a little more help after losing a girl (the princess!!) through a portal. But, no. Instead, he makes his daughter a vest, a suit, a helm, and some sunglasses. Gee, thanks, Dad!

9. Earthbound
(SNES, 1994)

Any guesses on what Ness’s dad does for work?

While we never see Ness’s Dad, he’s always just a phone call away to offer good advice…and deposit money into your bank account! My Dad, on the other hand, closed my bank account by accident (don’t worry, we got it straightened out). Ness’s Dad also has the important task of saving your game – which I think is simply the Nintendo equivalent of a father asking their child about their day.

He’s behind me, isn’t he?

“So, what’d you do at school today, Ness?”

“Well, I didn’t go to school…but I beat up a bunch of cops!”

8. Octodad
(Various, 2010)

This dad has some serious ink.

This zany Dad showed up as #2 on my Step-ember article, and he is definitely worth mentioning again here. To reiterate the plot, you control an octopus who is disguised as the Father of a family in order to escape the capture of a chef who wants to cook you for dinner. To quote Happy Gilmore, “Oh, you can hardly even notice it!”

7. James McCloud
Star Fox series
(Nintendo, 1993-present)

And go get yourself some cheap sunglasses.

Giving us some serious Obi-Wan Kenobi vibes, the voice of James McCloud shows up at the end of Star Fox 64 to tell his son to “trust your instincts” when escaping the impending explosion triggered by the defeat of Andross. Simultaneously, an arwing appears to lead Fox out through the winding maze of tunnels. Was it a ghost? Or is Fox’s dad still alive?

Use the force, Luke.

As far as I know, that question is never answered, and the true fate of James remains a mystery. Nonetheless, the original founder of the Star Fox team left an immense impression on his son, and maybe someday we’ll get a proper, enjoyable sequel that fills in all the blanks.

6. Pitfall Harry
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
(SNES, 1994)

It belongs in a museum!

Taking some heavy influence from Indiana Jones, the SNES sequel to the original Atari Pitfall series follows the journey of Pitfall Harry Jr, son of the vine-swinging hero from the 80’s. The opening sequence shows Harry Jr about to snag the sacred treasure of Uaxactun (a la Raiders of the Lost Ark) with his unseen father just a few steps behind him. At the last moment, though, Harry Sr is taken captive by the spirit of Zakelua, the Mayan Lord of Evil, leaving Junior to go to his rescue.

My favorite part of this game is when, after being saved, it’s revealed that Pitfall Harry Sr still retains his classic look from back in his Atari days!

Cue Tarzan yell.

5. Bowser
Super Mario series
(Nintendo, 1985-present)


Many people, including myself, thought that Bowser’s initial dance with fatherhood occurred in Super Mario Bros 3 when we had our first glimpse of Larry, Morton, Wendy, Iggy, Roy, Lemmy, and Ludwig. However, Nintendo recently established that the Koopalings are completely unrelated to the King of the Koopas (then where they heck did they come from???). So, it wasn’t until 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine on the Nintendo Gamecube where we were introduced to the true Bowser Jr, heir to the Mushroom Kingdom (should Bowser ever succeed in his plan).

How is Bowser as a father? Well, he’s a liar! He straight up told his son that Princess Peach was his mother, and the poor kid became so obsessed with the idea that he crafted his own plans to kidnap the distressed damsel. After revealing the truth, however, this moment became the bonding experience that was needed for them to become closer than ever. Now, they do all their kidnapping as a team!

4. Atrus
(Mac OS, 1993)

“Have you found the missing page? Come. Come.”

What do you do when you develop a video game but don’t have enough money or time to hire an actor to play one of your main characters? You play him yourself! That’s exactly what Rand Miller did with the character of Atrus who has the strange D’ni power to build worlds by writing them into books.

Of course, when things go sideways and his greedy sons plot to undermine him, he does what any father would do: he traps them inside an empty void within two separate prison books. Honestly, there were probably times in my childhood where my Dad wanted to do the same to me!

3. James
Fallout 3
(Various, 2008)

“It’s you and me, now, okay? You and me. But that’s okay. So long as we’ve got each other, that’s all that matters.”

Speaking of people who are married to women named Catherine… James from Fallout 3 chose fatherhood over his work on Project Purity after his wife died during childbirth. During the game’s opening scenes, the player, who assumes the role of James’s child, watches as their father urges a one-year-old you to take their first steps. Later, James surprises a now 10-year-old you for your birthday party.

James’s story grows more complicated as he seemingly comes closer and closer to fulfilling his dream of completing Project Purity, and he ends up disappearing when you’re just 13 years old. It’s up to you to leave the comfy confines of Vault 101 to figure out what happened to the man that raised you.

2. Kratos
God of War
(PS4, 2018)

“Don’t be sorry. Be better.”

In this fourth God of War adventure, Kratos is joined by a new character, his son Atreus, on a quest to fulfill his late wife’s final request to scatter her ashes atop the mountains of the nine realms.

I have yet to play this epic adventure, but I greatly enjoyed the first two games in the series. From what I’ve read, this installment was highly praised for the changes the developers made to its gameplay. It sported a semi-open world concept, new elements to the combat system, and, of course, a companion character who enhanced all facets of the journey.

Kratos’s relationship to his son is a focal point of the story as Atreus does not initially know that he has a famous father (shoutout to Disney’s Hercules). Over the course of the game, the player witnesses the dramatics ups and downs the pair endures as Atreus slowly learns the truth. Add in a healthy mix of Norse mythology to boot, and you’ve got yourself a dramatic Father & Son tale up there with the likes of Goofy and Max. Will Atreus ever make it to the Powerline concert, though??

Honorable Mentions:

Super Mario World
(SNES, 1990)

Yoshi’s a girl?

Adventures of Lolo 3
(NES, 1990)

Well, now I’m the grandpa, and what else would I give my little grandson but my Werther’s Original?”

Big Daddy
(Various, 2007)

Scuba Steve! Damn you!

1. Cranky Kong
Donkey Kong Country series
(Nintendo, 1994-present)

Can we take a moment to admire all the swag Cranky has at his house?

It’s a well-known fact that Cranky Kong used to look like this guy…

Let’s not forget how Cranky Kong used to kidnap women!

…because Cranky Kong was the original Donkey Kong! This means that he is the father to Donkey Kong Jr., and he is the grandfather of the modern Donkey Kong as we know him today.

We first met Cranky Kong in the debut Donkey Kong Country entry where he would sit outside his house and berate his grandson should he ever come over to visit. A few of my favorite Cranky zingers went as such:

“We used to play for hours on a single screen game and think we were lucky, and we were!”

“You wouldn’t last two minutes in a real game!”

“Betcha won’t get much further than this…”

Cranky finally put his DK coins where his mouth was when he decided to join in on the action in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for the Nintendo Wii U in 2014. Like grandson, like grandfather! Er…that’s not how that usually goes…

REVIEW: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze - oprainfall
Hopping around like Scrooge McDuck!

Thanks for stopping by to read my post! Can you think of any other iconic Fathers in games? Tell me about it in a reply below. Also, be sure to FOLLOW or subscribe to my blog via e-mail to have posts delivered directly to your inbox!

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Published by erichagmann

Arranger / Pianist / Vocalist / Educator / Gamer

4 thoughts on “Dad, Dad, Daddy-O: Fathers in Games

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