by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
So, we’re here today to talk about a very serious, important list – who are the best dogs across all RPGs? This was actually a pretty hard list if I’m being honest. There are a few that I wanted to put on here, but for one reason or another, they just didn’t make the cut. I didn’t want to put three Final Fantasy dogs on here, so I had to figure out which of the three were the best: Interceptor, Angelo, and Daigoro. Ultimately I settled on Interceptor, because he has one of the coolest features of the three, and honestly – I like Final Fantasy VI more than VIII. Daigoro appears in more games, but I still want to leave him as an honorable mention. To be honest, they’re all very good boys and do a lot to help us in our quests, even if it’s just making us feel a little bit better. But many of the dogs on this list are actually incredibly helpful on the combat front. I also wanted to take the time to mention King from EarthBound. If he weren’t only used in the first five to ten minutes of the game, he’d probably have made the cut. But, he was still infinitely more useful than Pokey or Pickey.
So who are your favorite dogs? Here are mine.
5. Pochitaro/Mame (Yakuza): So, in Yakuza 3, a dog is adopted by the Sunshine Orphanage, named Mame (or Rex, in America), who is an adorable little Shiba. However, during Yakuza Kiwami 2, you meet up with a pup Shiba who is being abused by punks, and Kiryu stops them because that’s what Kiryu does. Through the course of events, this pup, now named Pochitaro, winds up at the Orphanage. So this is a bit of a confusing point because I don’t know if they’re the same dog or not. They’re basically the same dog, and appear not too long after each other, so I imagine Yakuza Kiwami 2 just wanted to put that adorable dog in the game, and good on them for it. Pochitaro/Mame does not help you in combat but does show up in the Bakamitai Karaoke cutscene. Just having Mame in the game makes things a little brighter, because the world of Yakuza is a dark, violent one. Thanks, Pochitaro.
4. Dogmeat (Fallout Series): Dogmeat appears across the Fallout franchise but may have had his biggest appearance in Fallout 4 and is very clearly the best part of the entire game, making the game very enjoyable. Dogmeat’s been in Fallout 1, 2, 3 and 4, though his appearance in Fallout 2 is apparently non-canonical. His appearance in 3 is a different dog entirely, but that in no way changes the good dog and how useful he is to the franchise. Having Dogmeat by your side through Fallout 4 creates an important emotional response that frankly, you don’t receive in any other part of the game (including that awful MSQ involving the protagonist’s child). I was very glad to find that Dogmeat could not die in Fallout 4, because I probably would have just deleted my save file. Dogmeat is one of the biggest staples of the Fallout franchise and that is not hyperbole. Thank you for your service, Dogmeat.
3. Dog (Secret of Evermore): This was a really fascinating dog if I’m being honest. It’s your second player character in the entirety of Secret of Evermore, and as you traverse the game, though you stay the same, he evolves. No matter what time period/area you’re in, the dog fits the mold of the world – from sabretooth cavedog, all the way up to futuristic, laser-firing toasterdog. He has no lines but can be controlled by another controller, and that’s just dandy. Secret of Evermore is honestly a seriously underrated classic, despite being written/created solely as a project for America to have their own “Mana” game, it’s a beautiful and funny story, with plenty of wacky one-liners, challenge, and a tremendous Alchemy system. But most important – a loyal dog that goes with his human through thick and thin, and helps him out of sticky situations. Come on, that’s awesome! Thanks, Dog.
2. Interceptor (Final Fantasy VI): “Leave us. The dog eats strangers.” Were the first lines we receive from Shadow in Final Fantasy VI, and I still think he means it. The only people that Interceptor cares about it seems, are Shadow and Relm, which creates a wealth of fascinating possibilities. Though you cannot actually control Interceptor in the game, he acts as a status ailment/buff. This means through a few methods, you can transfer Interceptor’s buff to another player. When it activates, Interceptor arrives, takes the hit for Shadow, and then retaliates with a lot of damage. Interceptor is useful throughout the entire game and has some pretty great moments, though they are few and far between. I can only imagine that if you leave Shadow behind on the Floating Continent (you monster), Interceptor stays with him through that potential extinction. He’s loyal, he’s tough, he’s a good boy. Thank you, Interceptor.
1. Repede (Tales of Vesperia): Come on, how could it not be Repede? He has a cool name, an awesome look, and he’s a part of your regular fighting party! He has a badass dirk/kunai and a sweet pipe! Plus it seems like he can communicate with Yuri – that or it’s just one of those loyal dog/companion things. He’s with you for the entirety of the game and is one of the staples of my party. He has lots of damage, incredibly useful skills, and arguably one of the coolest looks for any dog in any video game – ever. He’s also the second non-human playable character in the Tales of series, which is fascinating. Plus, since he’s a dog, he has a smaller hitbox, and there are a lot of attacks that simply go whizzing overhead. And you can control him if you’d rather fight as a dog instead of as a human. What’s not to like?