LadiesGamers Happy Otter Day

Happy World Otter Day

Let’s talk Otters and Video Games

The 27th of May 2020 is also known as (to those in the know) World Otter Day! A day to celebrate the wonders of this water-happy predator. That and, of course, to raise awareness of them while asking folks for their kind donations, in order to help maintain habitats, preserve, and increase education concerning these mysterious and wonderful creatures. There are 13 living species of otter in the world, with most species classified as vulnerable or endangered.

Video games don’t really send a lot of love to the Otter as an animal. But since that’s my thing and since it’s World Otter Day, I thought I would do my darnedest to remind people of where Otters have been occasionally beloved in this medium.

Heroland (Switch and PS4)

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Let’s play spot the otter.

In Heroland there are many otters walking about in all their 2D pixelated paper glory. One character you can have on your team is called Otterman and is described as a young man (not an otter), so he’s a guy in a suit, maybe? Well, it does say he likes to crack shellfish like an otter, so who knows.

Cracking shells is a reference to the sea otter, which some describe as the cutest of all otter species, mostly because they cuddle their young on their tummies. Also, when they sleep they hold hands so as not to drift apart. Awww.

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Sea otters holding hands.

Pokemon (Nintendo platforms)

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An otter-like Pokemon and its evolution.

Of all the zillions of Pokemon in existence, only one is loosely based off an otter. Oshawoot is a water-type starter Pokemon, well known to be one of your initial choices in Pokemon Black or Pokemon White on the Nintendo DS. It’s cute, got freckles, and is inspired by the sea otter. It evolves into Dewott, which looks kinda like a ninja otter. Then finally, it evolves into Samurott which just looks all manner of weird with its shell unicorn head.

Japan used to have a native otter known as the Japanese river otter. Sadly, due to aggressive hunting for their valuable pelts, pollution, and general human interference led to their unfortunate extinction in the late 20th century. Maybe in a future Pokemon title they will revive this sadly lost species.

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Japanese river otter, sadly extinct.

Sushi Strikers (3DS and Switch)

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Spot the otter again.

One of the most original, zany puzzle games I’ve played in recent memory on the Switch. Sushi Strikers is about matching plates of sushi together in order to fling them at your opponent. You also get Sushi Sprites, animals you can activate on the fly to assist you in battle.

One of these sprites, Uszo, is described as having a playful face but is a bit wild. Uszo is an otter. Not the most powerful sprite of the bunch; in fact, Uszo is often the sprite of choice of your opponents early in the game.

One could say that it looks a little bit like the Asian small-clawed otter, which is the smallest of the otter species. This small otter lives in family groups and often prefers shallow water, unlike most other species. They also don’t usually have creepy eyes like Uszo.

Ark Survival Evolved (PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch)

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An otter scarf is the best kind of scarf.

One of those popular open-world survival games that is still going strong today and somehow even got ported to the Switch. This game isn’t just about surviving and finding a way to ride a dinosaur. Oh noit’s also about otters, whom you can in fact tame to become trusted companions in the game. They’re handy at harvesting pearls and fish. They also make a fine scarf which helps to maintain your body temperature. You can also breed them and end up with cute little otter cubs.

Of course you shouldn’t have an otter as a real pet, and sadly, they’re illegally traded in the East for this purpose. Otters are much better looked after in specially designed conservation centers or in the wild.

Heading over to the West, one of the most common species in Europe is the Eurasian otter. The Eurasian is more of a solitary otter that prefers to live alone and is a fast and expert fisherman. They probably won’t find you a pearl but will get you a fish in no time. Thanks to cleaner-rivers projects in the UK, these otters are starting to see a resurgence in numbers.

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The Eurasian otter.

Final Fantasy XIV (PS4 and PC)

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Odder Otters.

A popular MMO, the Odder Otter is a cute little otter with a big leafy hat and lantern that can be your little companion if you want it to be. Square Enix clearly saw the draw of this otter’s cute factor; they sell plushy toy Odder Otters with their lamps on their official website. Clearly the best minion in FFXIV by far, though I say that as someone who has never played the game. In real life, otters are excellent fishermen and don’t require a fishing rod.

The North American otter is able to hold its breath for up to 4 minutes, one of the longest times among otter species, and they can swim almost 7 mph, making them deadly torpedoes. If that wasn’t enough for the poor fish, North American otters sometimes hunt in pairs. They don’t wear giant leaf hats like the Odder Otter, but they sometimes play about in leaves and possibly even play hide and seek.

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North American river otters.

Beyond Good and Evil (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox, GC and PS2)

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The Lutra Erect in Beyond Good and Evil. Ugly, right?

In real life, otters are very hard to photograph since they’re quite elusive to human eyes. This also seems to be the case when you attempt to photograph the two-legged otter or the Lutra Erect in Beyond. You have to be patient and get the right angle on the top of the lighthouse to have a chance to snapshot this rare animal.

The term Lutra is actually the genus of otters. Oh, and before you giggle at what Erect means, in Latin “erect” means standing, hence: standing otter. In Beyond Good and Evil, the Lutra Erect is a two-legged otter. The above screenshot sure looks ugly, doesn’t it. Well, the giant otter is falsely considered to be one of the ugliest species of otter by the public.

Giant otters may look a little odd, but they hang out in lovely family groups, and the fur on their chest has a unique pattern–just like a fingerprint. They also constantly communicate with each other by making a lot of noise! They may be loud, but ugly is a description I disagree with.

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Giant otters. Not ugly.

Daxter (PSP and PS2)

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Daxter: half otter, half weasel.

Daxter always reminded me of Timon from The Lion King. Daxter is small and likes to play the comic relief in his partnership with his friend Jax. However, Daxter is in fact half otter, half weasel (an ottsel or a weater). He started off as a human, but after taking a tumble into some Dark Eco he was altered into this new species and continues in this form for several games. Some gamers find him funny and some find him rather a pain with his quibs and one-liners.

Ottsel, unfortunately, do not exist in real life. Otters are part of the sub-family Lutrinae, which is a branch of the Mustelidae family that includes weasels, badgers, honey badgers, martens, minks, polecats, and wolverines. So in a way, otters and weasels are distant cousins.

Like Daxter, the smooth coated otter also has a somewhat mischievous side. They live in very large families and happily hunt and play together in groups of up to 20! Their bonds are so strong they can even fend off and intimidate crocodiles.

In Singapore, the government has invested huge sums of money in keeping their waterways and streets clean. Because of this effort, smooth coated otters now live happily in the streets due to the plentiful food source. They also provide excellent photo opportunities for tourists.

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Smooth coated otters.

The Otterman Empire (PC, Switch, Xbox One, and PS4)

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This is an upcoming game that actually stars otters. Finally! It looks to be a fun little party shooter to play alone, or with your friends in co-op or competitive mode. A release date has not been confirmed at this stage. Maybe this game will be the start of an otter renaissance in gaming. Lord knows we could use more otters in video games.

LadiesGamers Happy Otter Day

Happy Otter Day

Hopefully you enjoyed this sneaky attempt to hide some otter facts amongst gaming ones. If I missed any video game otters be sure to share them below.

If you want to find out more about World Otter Day, click here.

There are actually several otter charities across the world, so be sure to check out your local zoos and conservation centers, or even donate money online to help protect these lovely creatures.

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