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The Best Dogs in Video Games

Updated on February 8, 2013

Dogs are great. They can be heroes, hunters, or loyal companions. Yet even these dogs awesome as they are, cannot do the things that dogs in video games can do. Yet dogs in video games aren’t necessarily restricted to just chasing balls and wagging tails. Some of the dogs on this list can walk on lava, transform into submarines, or bust a serious rhyme. These dogs mean business.

Poochy (Yoshi's Island)

Poochy is an unusual dog. He has no nose, and yet has an incredible sense of smell. He doesn’t look to be particularly armored, and yet her is able to traverse lava and spikes while barking happily. He might not be the brightest of canine companions, but he is certainly loyal, resilient, and useful. Besides, how could you resist that giant slobbering smile?

Dogmeat (Fallout)

Post-apocalyptic stories are in vogue right now, and the most influential of post-apocalyptic video games are undoubtedly the Fallout games. In each Fallout game you can choose from a number of different possible companions to follow you and assist you in your quest to survive the desolate future wasteland. Dogmeat (an unusual name choice, admittedly) is one of the more emotionally evocative companions for the playable Lone Wanderer. In the first two games he can be found in a junkyard and will join you on your journey if you feed him some meat. To have him join you in Fallout 3, you have to save his life as he’s attacked.

His usefulness is debatable: especially in Fallout 3, where he is uncharacteristically fragile. Care needs to be taken that he is not harmed by an unnoticed enemy. He might not be as useful in this third installment, but there is something about journeying at the end of the world with a dog that lands close to home for most people. Obviously the developers thought so as well, because the game series was heavily influenced by Harlan Ellison’s “A Boy and His Dog,” which also featured – surprise – a boy and his dog surviving in a post-apocalyptic setting.

A dog with a spring on his back: Rush the Robo-dog
A dog with a spring on his back: Rush the Robo-dog

Rush (Megaman)

It isn’t unusual to hear the phrase that a dog is “man’s best friend.” Rush is more than just Megaman’s best friend: he was made specifically to help him out. Dr. Light created this canine companion to assist Megaman in his various quests. Throughout the different games in which Rush has appeared this mecha-dog has developed a number of new and helpful abilities, including the coil, overboard, and submarine power-ups. In later games Rush gained even more useful abilities, including a detection mode and the ability to fuse with Megaman into an upgraded power suit. Megaman might not be a flesh-and-blood human, but Rush is pure best friend.

Interceptor and Shadow, the closest of companions.
Interceptor and Shadow, the closest of companions.

Interceptor (Final Fantasy VI)

Interceptor comes and goes as he pleases, and assists Shadow in battle, periodically blocking and counterattacking enemies. He is fiercely loyal and attached to Shadow but is reserved, sometimes even outright hostile, to others. The exception to this is the young girl Relm, towards whom he is affectionate.

He is very high maintenance though, as his food is ridiculously expensive. But you don’t want to complain about things like that, since Shadow tells you that Interceptor sometimes eats strangers.

Better by far to pay the food bills.

Parappa (Parappa the Rapper)

He’s a rapping dog! What’s not to like?

Well, he’s incredibly cheesy at times. The eponymous hero’s catchphrase is “I gotta believe!”

But while his motto is questionable, his rhythm and rhymes are catchy. I played the game once at a friend’s house as a child and can still to this day remember about half of the songs. Special mention goes to Prince Fleaswallow’s song, which is simultaneously catchy and completely absurd.

Amaterasu (Okami)

Okay. Technically Amaterasu is a wolf. But she undertakes a quest to defend the people of Japan. That’s gotta count for something.

She is a god. To be specific, she is an incarnation of the Shinto Sun Goddess. She can destroy enemies with ease and wields a celestial brush which grants her the power of the sun, and allows her to manipulate the world around her.

The game is visually stunning, given the game’s particular painted art style – which almost gives the suggestion that Amaterasu herself created the very world in which you play.

Truly, he is the cruelest of them all.
Truly, he is the cruelest of them all.

The Dog (Duck Hunt)

Anyone who ever had a NES will immediately recognize this particular canine. Duck Hunt was packaged along with most NES systems, along with the first Mario Bros. game, so most people who had the system also had this game.

The point of the game was to shoot animated ducks, much like a hunting simulation. The game had a dog who collected the fallen ducks and popped up in between volleys to show you your haul from that round.

Many people came to despise this dog.

The problem was that the game was difficult. Not excessively so, but given that this was one of the first uses of light-un technology in home entertainment systems, there were still a few kinks to work out. Add to this that most people weren’t familiar with just how the light gun worked, and you have a recipe for frustration.

The dog exacerbated this. Whenever you failed to hit a duck in a round, the dog would pop up, with his paws covering his mouth, mocking you relentlessly. The music didn’t help either, as each time you failed a round, a little tune chimed, as if to remind you just how poorly you’ve performed.

He is the ultimate enemy. An indestructible nemesis. And he can never be defeated.

Conclusion

There you have it. The greatest video game dogs. Not every dog make it on this list. Many were missed. Do you have a favorite? Disagree with the list? Let us know!

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