[This is kinda a fun one -- our education focused sister site GameCareerGuide asked its readers to submit ideas for sidekicks to existing game series. Who would they be? How would they work? Here's some possibilities...]

The decision to add a sidekick to a game series is not one to be taken lightly -- it changes the dynamic of the entire game, and if you get it wrong, you risk irritating players with a needless addition.

That said, the rewards can be strong. What would Mario be without Luigi as a foil? Adding Tails to Sonic 2 allowed the players to redefine what the game's gameplay could be and bring a second player into the mix.

Our education focused sister site GameCareerGuide asked its readers to submit ideas for sidekicks to existing game series. Who would they be? How would they work? The results are here, and here are excerpts from some of the winning entries:

Frank Forrestall, Freelance Concept Artist - Crash Bandicoot
Forrestall skewers the sidekick concept with a Crash Bandicoot sequel co-starring a lineup of questionable partner characters. These varied misfits introduce a number of intriguing mechanics, and ultimately become the focal point of gameplay.

Dean Ray Johnson - Grand Theft Auto IV
Dean Ray Johnson suggests the introduction of a street youth as a partner in crime in Grand Theft Auto IV. The character's age may provoke controversy, but he would undeniably make the experience much more convenient for the player.

Karel Moricky, Game Designer at Bohemia Interactive - Splinter Cell
Sam Fisher's weakened mental state is explored in this unusual Splinter Cell sequel, in which Fisher partners with his own damaged psyche for a series of co-op missions. The ending sequence is particularly inspired.

Honorable Mentions
Andrew Swain, Art Institute of Vancouver, God of War: Homer & "Homer"
Enrique J. Gil Izquierdo, Localization Engineer, EA Integration Studio, DOOM: Mr. Pinky
Vladimir Villanueva, Artist, Megaman ZX: Rush
Peter Konneker, Brigham Young University, Kid Icarus

To read the entire list, head over to GameCareerGuide's feature, which contains the full text and art of all of the above entries.