We aren’t done yet! Here are even more of who we consider the best RPG dogs.
Mabari Hound/”Dog” (Dragon Age: Origins)
by Tina Olah
The Mabari War Hound. A mighty battle dog of ferocious appearance (somewhat resembling a very large pit bull), rumored to have descended from wolves…in addition to being a lovable campsite companion. While bringing the Mabari along for battle was an option throughout my adventures in Ferelden, I admit that I did not make use of him very often, generally preferring the banter of my two-legged companions. Having a furry friend to spend time with at camp was always a joy, though. He could even be equipped with a variety of war paint and collars, one of these being a fashionable protective cone included in the Feastday Gifts & Pranks DLC.
Meeting my own Mabari friend is a tale filled with frustration. I originally noticed a lone canine following me in the wilderness after the Battle of Ostagar. As it turns out, he had recognized me from an earlier meeting at Ostagar’s kennels. His default name was “Dog,” and for some reason, I decided to stick with that. Soon afterward, I began to regret my decision, wanting to name my new companion something a little more unique and personal. Unfortunately, there was no way to rename him at this point. Sigh. I trudged on for a while, eventually giving in to my nagging thoughts and reloading an old save from before the Mabari joined my party. This time, I named him “Wilson.” Like the volleyball, I guess.
Interceptor (Final Fantasy VI)
by Alana Hagues
How do you make a ninja even cooler? Give him a dog, of course! Shadow is the classic Final Fantasy ninja in the most traditional sense, with a black ninja hood masking his identity and a ruthless, cold attitude, but he shows his softer side whenever his faithful Doberman Pinscher is with him. Shadow and Interceptor bring out the best in each other, and that goes both in and out of combat. The first time I played Final Fantasy VI, I had no idea that my favourite class came with a companion that just happened to be my favourite animal, so I used him at every opportunity. And what a good boy Interceptor is. After meeting him in Thamasa years before the story takes place, the pair have been inseparable, and one is never seen without the other.
There are little things that hint at Interceptor’s tender relationship with Shadow. For instance, Shadow asks the party at Kohlingen’s inn for 3,000 gil to simply feed his beloved friend. At no other point does he ask for any money, or anything for helping the party, so it’s clear his main focus is the survival of his furry friend. Yet this dog’s most memorable moment comes when you meet Relm for the first time. Interceptor isn’t exactly friendly with the other party members, but he takes an immediate shine to Relm. This connection seems odd at first, but depending on some later choices (and if you’ve played the PS1 or GBA versions of the game) things become very clear. Interceptor all but says that Shadow and Relm are father and daughter, and who are we to ignore the instincts of a dog?
Interceptor isn’t just relegated to a plot device, though — he gets to shine in battle, too. While he doesn’t join Shadow for every single fight, there’s a chance he’ll run in to attack his master’s foes, dealing huge amounts of damage. The first time I played this I thought it was so cool seeing the Doberman leap from one side of the screen to the other, taking down anything from Imps to Marlboros in an instant. It’s hard to dislike a dog like Interceptor, one who’s faithfulness means he will put his life on the line for his master and do anything for him. The bond these two characters share is special and hints at the greater parts of Shadow’s story. Just for the love of god, don’t be like me and sacrifice Shadow. I can’t deal with these two being separated again…
Your Dog (Secret of Evermore)
by Michael Sollosi
Secret of Evermore, the oddball SNES RPG pitting a teenager from Podunk, USA against evil robot clones trapped in a bizarre simulation, features one of the best silent sidekicks of all time in the protagonist’s canine companion. Your dog doesn’t have any special moves, any weapons to equip, or even any dialogue. What he does have is hard-hitting doggy lunge attacks and unwavering loyalty to his boy.
…and the ability to transform. Your dog starts out as a terrier but changes into a shaggy wolf, a svelte greyhound, a fancy poodle, or a toaster-like robot depending on the realm you’re visiting. Your dog isn’t just a powerhouse fighter; he’s an element of visual interest that makes traveling between the realms of Secret of Evermore a little more exciting. And I really can’t oversell that robot dog.
by Hilary Andreff
What’s not to like about a celestial calligrapher wolf with a deep connection to nature? As the sun goddess Amaterasu in wolf form, the lead character of Ōkami is all that and more. She is part of a long tradition of mythical pooches in a game that utilizes a lot of Japanese folklore and mythology, rooting her story in a rich cultural context. Whether she’s reclaiming power by freeing the Chinese zodiac-inspired Brush Gods, chatting with Kaguya, or acting as the hidden power behind the life-giving Konohana Shuffle, you get the sense that this snowy furball is guiding events and protecting the land (despite starting with greatly reduced powers and the skepticism of those around her). Amaterasu is also one pup who knows the value of working with others. When she’s not using her Celestial Brush to help people achieve their goals, she sometimes takes them on as passengers when she needs their assistance — not to mention the time she spends tracking down the Canine Warriors for Princess Fuse or feeding the hungry animals she finds.
Her design is gorgeous and full-on mythical. Life literally springs up behind her as she runs and jumps her way to restoring light to the darkened land of Nippon, yet she often appears as a simple white wolf when dealing with humans. You also have to appreciate the fact that, when she interacts with some of Nippon’s inhabitants, she embraces her lupine form and will yawn, growl, whine, or lose attention. Other crucial canine activities like barking and digging are staples throughout the journey, too. Aside from simply being cute, these mannerisms provide some interesting contrast to her celestial side and truly grounds the game experience. Give us a victory howl, Ammy, because you are one special canine protagonist.
Pow (Skies of Arcadia)
by Alana Hagues
Dogs make us happy, right? They’re here to cuddle when we’re feeling down or here to make us laugh when we’re crying. I like to think that’s exactly what Pow is to Vyse. A purple and white huskra, the native breed to the world of Arcadia, Pow is a playful pup who enjoys most of his days running around Pirate Isle playing hide and seek with the kids Lindsi, Alan and Jimmy. He’s the perfect morale booster for any sky pirate, and whenever I took Vyse back to Pirate Isle I’d always make time to talk to Pow and hear him bark. Then you get your own pirate ship, the Delphinus, and things get really interesting.
When you return to your home yet again and talk to Pow, the kids insist they want to join you on your pirating adventure. They’re too young, so they ask you to take Pow with you and he becomes the perfect mascot for the Blue Rogues. In the crew’s ranks he’s given the title of Jester, which is perfect, as he’s the best little entertainer. Pow is seen running around the deck of the ship, there to talk to at will. I love seeing him with the rest of the crew members, envisaging him getting lots of attention from the cooks, the builders, and even the merchants. Of course, he’s not just there for strokes, and Pow can actually lend you his support in battle. Selecting him from the “Crew” command in ship battles increases your chances of attacking first in the next round, which is a vital skill for these tactical battles. Then, there’s regular encounters in dungeons and on the map: use the Blue Rogues super move in regular encounters, and Pow will bounce around the screen leaving a trail of rainbows. Whatever you’re doing Pow, you’re doing a great job.
While you do recruit a real jester and dancer in the form of Merida, who needs that when you can have a dog? I used to dream of getting my own dog and going on a huge adventure with them, and Skies of Arcadia is the reason why. I’ve got two dogs now, but I sadly don’t have an airship or even an eyepatch to go swashbuckling with my friends. In any case, Pow might just be the perfect RPG dog for me, but are you really surprised?
Clove, aka “The Dog” (Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII)
by Mike Salbato
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is a bizarre game in many ways, with its radically-altered presentation and progression compared to the first two FFXIII titles. Many NPCs have odd voices or bizarre outfit like completely inappropriate oversized magenta spectacles. And yet, it’s poor Clove here — often referred to simply as “the Lightning Returns dog” — that gets extra attention. Thankfully, her rise to internet semi-stardom is usually a positive one. People may mock her low polygon count, but any degrading comments are leveled at the game’s apparently-brief development period, and her resulting goofy appearance actually has endeared her further amongst fans.
Look at that face!
Amusingly, this dog model is actually a reused FFXIII asset, despite being made of far less detail than most things in that game (of all XIII‘s faults, its visuals were not one of them). Is Clove a descendant of this darker-furred pup that Fang found hiding? I’m sure her great great great grandpup would be proud that Clove takes their lineage from hidden background extra to the leading lady in a heavily-involved quest alongside the savior at the end of the world.
Image via Steam Community post.