It’s not uncommon in video games for the player to travel with or play as something other than a human being. Be it aliens, robots, gods, or intellectual jellies, gaming has seen it all. So of course it comes as no surprise when dogs take up a mantle in the gaming scene. Common in many cultures and always reliable, the canine is an undying symbol of companionship to humanity.
In no particular order, I present to you ten of the most endearing canines in video games: the ones who support the protagonist, the ones who talk, and the ones who decided the spotlight belonged on them.
Based on the goddess of Japanese mythology, Amaterasu from Okami has been ranking in popularity lists long before ours found her. Heralding from the Celestial Plains, Amaterasu dragged the demon Orochi to the human world, where a champion would fell him once and for all. Eventually, this human is born and, with the help of Amaterasu (also known as Shiranui), they seal Orochi at the cost of her own life and the undermining of nearly all her powers.
Years later, Orochi is freed by the descendant of the one who sealed him, and Amaterasu must regain her brush powers to restore color and life to a world that has been tainted by darkness.
Amaterasu is a wildly loved protagonist. Between the artistic rendering of her character and world, the whimsical narrative in which she traverses, and the natural grace, wisdom and quiet of her personality, she has entombed herself as one of the most memorable video game characters of all time.
While technically a machine, Rush’s canine companionship is one of the defining staples of early Mega Man games. While there’s not much in terms of character, Rush’s relentless loyalty and nearly endless mechanical functions makes him one of the most helpful partners in video gaming. A spring, a jet, a drill, a submarine—you name it, Rush can fit the bill.
On top of his normal milling as the red robot pup, Rush can also become an accessory to Mega Man himself, breaking down and assimilating with Mega Man to attain a greater, more powerful form capable of flight, armor-piercing attacks, and astonishing physical strength.
The only playable Tales character on four legs, Repede is a symbol of effortless cool. Agile, sleek, and always donning a smoking pipe, he is the casual companion of Yuri, Tales of Vesperia’s protagonist. Inspired by a striking anime style, Repede wears a chain from his previous owner, tasteful scarring from his brow to his chin, and dances around the battlefield in a flurry of blades to dismantle opponents. He might not bare much in way of backstory or character development, but he’s a solid member of the party, with a highly aggressive playstyle which pours on the damage and makes him one of the most fun, and consequently most memorable characters in the game.
Again, he’s a dog…who smokes a pipe. What’s not to love?
Duck Hunt Dog
Recently finding new life as part of the notorious Smash roster, the snickering dog from Duck Hunt has been an iconic video game character since he began retrieving our duck trophies back in 1984. Looming in the background, the hunting dog lauds the player on their kills, holding high any ducks that the player shot out of the sky, or mocking them accordingly for their failure.
An urban legend runs around the dog’s existence, suggesting there is a way to shoot it. This legend is rooted in truth, as the player actually can hit the dog in a later installment of the franchise called Vs. Duck Hunt.
As a Smash character, the Duck Hunt Dog (regarded as a ‘duo,’ because the player uses both the dog and one of the birds) is a highly-nuanced character, capitalizing on unconventional skills to defeat opponents.
The Legendary Beasts
While not a single creature, these three Pokemon are regarded as one unified trio in the Pokemon universe, just like the Legendary Birds. Individually, they are Raikou, Entei, and Suicune, three of the most powerful Pokemon introduced in Generation II. The Beasts found life when Ho-Oh, another legendary Pokemon, revived them from Ecruteak City’s Brass Tower, where they represent all of the elements which afflicted the structure: Raikou after the lightning that struck it, Entei after the fire which followed, and Suicune after the wind and rain which extinguished the fire. While Raikou is relatively unseen outside of the video games, Entei made his first movie appearance in Spell of the Unown, where he was voiced by Dan Green in the English translation, and Suicune was a central character in Celebi: Voice of the Forest (Pokemon 4Ever in America). They all showed up together in later movie: Zoroark: Master of Illusions.
These Pokemon are notorious for being the first to ever flee from one location to another, forcing a game of cat-and-mouse with the player, who must learn the patterns of their movements throughout the region and predict where they can be found. Once finally attained, any of the Beasts are a guaranteed trump card in the player’s repertoire, further emphasizing their infamy and power.
Partner and guardian of Shadow from Final Fantasy VI, Interceptor refuses to let his master encounter peril on his lonesome, going so far as to disobey orders in order to keep Shadow’s company. He’s vicious towards those who would seek to harm Shadow, defending and counter-attacking against enemies in-game. But he’s tender towards friendly characters, especially the young party member, Relm. Shadow likes to claim that Interceptor eats strangers, though we unfortunately have no way of knowing whether or not this is true.
The beloved, musically-savvy canine of the Animal Crossing franchise has a record track-list surpassing most real-world artists. He’s a free spirit and wandering minstrel, whose only desire is to share his music with the many towns he passes through. Despite contributing virtually nothing to any narrative, he’s still famous for being one of the most iconic Animal Crossing characters, if only because of the aesthetic and charm he contributes to the world. He makes the player comfortable, and sets the playful tone one should expect from one of Nintendo’s most heart-warming franchises.
PaRappa the Rappa
Back in the day when music-themed games were infiltrating the industry, this punk-doggie took the stage. The character is rendered two-dimensionally in a three-dimensional environment, and must rap his way through the stages by matching up button commands to the rhythm presented. The popularity of this game spawned a sequel and children’s anime series. PaRappa is a shy, but brave and ambitious young boy with the pick-yourself-up catchphrase “I gotta believe!” PaRappa is driven to impress his love interest, Sunny Funny, and will often go to great lengths to impress her, even if things don’t always go as planned. PaRappa is always optimistic and never gives up, which is what everybody wants in their anthropomorphic animals, right?
Potential companion of the Lone Wanderer in Fallout 3, named after a dog of the same name from the original Fallout. He can be found in a scrapyard and utilized to retrieve loot and supplies, fight against enemies, and generally follow the player around the wastelands. He is a loyal friend where everybody and everything has a mutual interest in killing you.
He also might be the only dog that finds a way to survive a nuclear explosion if you strand him in the middle of a city set to explode. That’s impressive in its own right.
Dogmeat has a new incarnation with the release of Fallout 4.
Dog from Fable II
Despite having no actual name, this dog captures the hearts of every player to meander through Fable II. While it might not seem like anything special at first, this dog proves unparalleled loyalty to the player, being the only character to greet them after a long span being enslaved and in a far off land. What’s more, this dog is an irreplaceable, fearless machine. It helps the character fight, it can learn to play, it can hunt for treasure, and much more. The dog is designed to find such significance in the player’s heart that it creates an ultimatum during the endgame which pressures the player into a possibly tragic final decision. Considering we have nothing to call this canine, it goes uncontested as one of the most friendly and familial partners in gaming.
There’s our ten! If you have any entries you feel we should have included, please voice your thoughts in the comments!
God bless, stay loyal, and always remember to smile.
Cooper D Barham
Aspiring author, marriage and family therapist, and active behavioral health technician, Cooper fills his world with God, music, videogames, anime/manga, drawing, reading, writing, and some physical stuff in between. If you ever want to talk about the big or little things of life, fire him a message. Helping others through tough times is both his passion and way of living. 'Got it memorized?'
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