Owls. Beastmasters of the sky. Progenitors of the phrase “silent but deadly.” The inspiration for awful Batman villains and disappointers of muggles worldwide. Known for their fearsome talons and ability to rotate their heads 270 degrees like a feathery mounted turret, is there anything these majestic beasts can’t do? As it turns out, yes – well they could be lucky247 and find there food easily, but thats no easy task right? but back on track, despite making a splash in literature and film as international wizard-botherers, owls have been unable to break into the gaming industry, probably because talons and controllers mix like Kanye West and War and Peace. But even that hasn’t stopped them; so today, in honour of the UK Little Owl Project, we look at the five best and worst owls that’ve sunk their clutches into our favourites games.
5th Best: Hoot (Super Mario 64)
Despite his limited screen-time (apologies owl-verlords, but I forgot this one even existed), Hoot lives in a tree in Whomp’s Fortress. Hoot does a great deal for owl rights, chastising Mario for waking an owl during the day like the selfish fat meatball he is, and then offers Mario a ride to the top of the fortress anyway, like a real gentleman. Neckbeards take note. Hoot loses points for not being able to withstand slipping in a snarky comment about Mario’s weight, warning him of the dangers of a diet consisting exclusively of pasta, and having less texture detail than a space invader’s forehead. Horrific. Or should that be hoo-rific. Ha ha.
5th Worst: Storm Owl (Megaman X4)
Storm Owl commits one of the cardinal sins of being an owl: wearing a silly hat. That aside (although that alone would be enough), Storm Owl makes several other mis-steps: he is the only out-right evil owl on this list (I think, by Megaman X4 the lore has reached the “completely incomprehensible” stage), his stage music sounds like Darth Vader humming the Blade Runner theme, and his robot exoskeleton can only hamper his natural owl abilities. Unless it’s made out of owluminium. Ha ha ha.
4th Best: Otus (Owlboy)
Owlboy from Owlboy, whose actual name is Otus so I can stop saying “Owlboy from Owlboy,” is a prime example of an owl despite being some strange human-owl abomination. He showcases great tenacity in the face of adversity, which is an important trait for owls to possess (probably), as he sets out to reclaim his village from pirates, as well as mastery of the owl’s grippy talons, which get used to carry allies around like a feathery little Uber. Would be higher if not for the slightly grim notion of actually creating an owl-human hybrid. Or should that be hy-bird. Ha ha ha ha.
4th Worst: OWL (OverWatch League)
This owl doesn’t actually appear to be an owl at all, but a group of slightly sweaty Korean lads fighting in a FPS that doesn’t feature any owls either. Unless you count “Talon” agents. Ha ha ha ha ha. Next!
3rd Best: Blathers (Animal Crossing series)
It’s not entirely clear where the reputation for owls being wise comes from, and you’d think they’d spent too much time flying into windows for it to have stuck. Nonetheless, helping the “owls are little boffins” cause is Blathers from Animal Crossing, who has entirely forgone being nature’s perfect killing machine in favour of opening a museum for the benefit of animals he would previously have considered food. Unlike a certain other owl appearing later on this list, Blathers actually knows when to shut his mouse-scented trap, too. Probably isn’t doing any favours by looking quite so spiffy in a bow-tie though, he’s going to make all the lady-owls swoon.
3rd Worst: Celeste (Animal Crossing series)
Look at this stupid owl. An owl this gaudy and pink wouldn’t last two seconds out in the wild. Moreover, Celeste may actually be an owl double-agent, training the local idiots to navigate by starlight to undermine the owl’s natural night-time advantage. Plus I bet she smells like strawberries and sugar instead of dead mice, too. Pathetic.
2nd best: Owl Express Owls (A Hat in Time)
Is there anything owls actually can’t do? No, confidently claims A Hat in Time, as it makes them construct and successfully pilot a steam locomotive, produce films rather than just starring in them as the Magical Postal Service, play the trumpet much better than a creature with no fingers should be able to and generally inconvenience a small girl in a hat. While I’ve excluded The Conductor from this list, primarily because I’m not sure he’s even avian, let alone a member of the Strigiformes order (which sounds more like a bunch of Lord of the Rings baddies than the scientific name for owls but oh well), the A Hat in Time owls also have the luxury of being voiced by Youtube sensation ProZD, which very few real-life owls can boast.
2nd Worst: Kaepora Gaebora (Legend of Zelda series)
You all knew this one was coming. Bane of adventurers with twitchy button-fingers everywhere, unlike Blathers Gaebora will happily berate anybody unfortunate to miss his “would you like me to repeat that” prompt for hours. He also has the problem Hoot has of “being so low-poly he kind of looks like he’s made out of Lego,” and despite allegedly being the reincarnation of a great wise sage, doesn’t even rotate his head on the right axis for an owl. That’s like, owl-ing 101.
Best Hon. Mentions: Coo (Kirby series), Sniper (Team Fortress 2)
Coo, an owl buddy from Kirby’s Dream Land 2, always seemed like kind of a badass, as many people forget that game was about fighting back against the embodiment of evil itself. Coo lost some owl points for his recent appearance in Kirby: Star Allies, however, which confirms for certain his feathers are purple (see Celeste) and he needs help from a hamster and a fish to get the job done, which never looks good on a CV. Nonetheless, Coo is here to kick ass, not take sass, and try to avoid flying into glass. The Sniper from Team Fortress 2 may initially appear to have virtually no owly traits at all – this is true, until you equip the “Sir Shootsalot” item during a full moon or Halloween, which turns the sniper into an enormous hooting owl, and changes his voice lines to ones such as, and I quote, “I’m an enormous hooting owl.” Hoot hoot indeed, dear Sniper.
Worst Hon. Mentions: Sonic OCs (Sonic the Hedgehog Series) Owl (Winnie the Pooh series)
Mercifully there isn’t a canonical owl character in the Sonic universe yet to drag the reputation of owls through the sludge – there’s a few in the comics, but I’m avoiding those for my own sanity. That hasn’t stopped the sonic fan community though, and if you’ve got a few minutes to kill (and a strong enough constitution), putting even just “sonic owl” into DeviantArt yields a flurry of things you cannot ever unsee. Owl from Winnie the Pooh is a perfectly respectable (if slightly unimaginative) owl, and the Winnie the Pooh video games are surprisingly pretty alright, but where points are lost is Owl is rarely if ever playable in there offerings. And also because I’m clutching at straws at this point.
BEST OWL: Pokemon owls
If you’re looking for positive and widespread owl representation, Pokemon is the series for your weirdly specific tastes. Hoothoot and Noctowl are the regional birds of Johto and literal embodiments of the night – added to taut that game’s innovative new day-night cycle. More recently, Rowlet accompanied millions of trainers on their adventures as one of the Alola starter Pokemon, which evolves into the kickass ghost archer owl Decidueye, who despite having a name like the result of scrabble tiles in a washing machine, is cool enough to make Green Arrow look like Green Lantern. That’s just the confirmed owls, too – Delibird has a lot of owl-like qualities, until I was reminded penguins exist which explains it being crap, and Natu is also a wise, owl-slash-marrowfat pea looking thing. They’re all excellent owls.
WORST OWL: Night in the Woods in general (The “abundant lack of owls” award)
Come on now, Night in the Woods, this is beginning to seem like it’s something personal against owls. Nothing against the game itself, it’s a charming jaunty experience / a haunting analogy for depression and the current socio-political turmoil in the rust belt of America. But seriously. The game is called Night in the Woods – and as far as my comprehensive research can tell, there’s exactly one owl character, who is a background nobody with no speaking lines. Owls love both night and the woods! You may as well have called it “Peck Peck Yum Yum Mice in the Barn!” This really is inexcusable.
By reading this article you are now officially a Friend of Owls(™), and may brag to your friends about your extensive knowledge of video game avians. To be upgraded officially to a Hero of Owls(™) however, you can support the UK Little Owl Project, or tune in to a Super Smash Bros. tournament in aid of the organisation (long story) over at Cardiffgaming on Twitch this Sunday – July 29th, for reference to charitable time-travellers.