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The Ten Best Sidekicks

• Sidekicks 1-4
Sidekicks 5-7
Sidekicks 8-10
Reader's Choice ballot
Grace Nakimura
Gabriel Knight series

Calling Grace Nakimura a sidekick may cause some fans of the Gabriel Knight series to balk. She's not just comic relief, like many of our choices, but she's also a playable character in the second and third games. But even she acknowledges her role in the third game, jokingly telling another character that she's the "trusty sidekick."

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What's interesting about Grace is that she's simply a more likeable character than the series' namesake. While Gabriel is a bit self-absorbed and occasionally seems oblivious to what's going on around him, Grace is intelligent and resourceful, and playing her in The Beast Within and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned was usually more interesting than playing Gabe himself.

In the first Gabriel Knight game, Sins of the Fathers, Grace was little more than a glorified research assistant to the titular detective. You'd ask her questions about certain subjects, and at the end of the day she'd have some information for you. In the second Gabriel Knight game, The Beast Within, you actually got to perform the research as you played as Grace in alternating chapters. And in the most recent game, Grace gets even more involved, going out into the field and talking with suspects. She's also the center of that game's most interesting series of puzzles, deciphering an old poem to uncover the location of a holy relic.

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And, of course, there's the romance element. Grace stoically puts up with Gabriel's rakish ways, despite the fact that her feelings for him are obviously more than just professional. And these feelings are reciprocated, but Gabriel is cursed with the male gene that prevents commitment. At the end of The Beast Within, it seemed as though they had figured things out, but in Gabriel Knight 3 he was back to his old ways. Hopefully there will be some resolution if Gabriel Knight 4 ever comes to be.

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Grace's job may seem somewhat dull in comparison with Gabriel's; there's less danger, and most of her duties involve reading. But any fan of the series would agree that she's an important part of what makes the games both scary and fun.

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