There’s a lot of hype circulating around that upcoming Ubisoft game Watch Dogs, which the publisher wants stylised as WATCH_DOGS because it looks cooler or something. The problem is at the International World Group Meeting of Videogame Journalists we all got together and decided that all intellectual property must be put into italics within our content, and italics do nothing to that silly underscore in WATCH_DOGS and it mocks the entire thing so no journalist will ever go for that. So I’m just going to call it Watch Dogs and you should too.
Well anyway, Watch Dogs is coming your way at the end of May, unless you only have a Wii U for some reason and in that case you’ve got no-one to blame by yourself. And what better way to get excited about this than celebrating some of the best videogame DOGS as we WATCH the release date draw nearer! (Disclaimer: I did not get paid to write this it’s not worth getting upset over)
With that being said, let’s take a long at the top 5 videogame dogs, and it should be noted right now that PaRappa from Parappa the Rapper and Sam from Sam and Max are not on this list despite both being pretty cool videogame dogs. The reason for this is because they both wear human clothes at all times, and here at Frugal Gaming we consider people who dress up their dogs equal to people who take “Before and After” pictures when they shave their genitals.
There will also be no mention of the dog from the PlayStation 2 game Dog’s Life; because I want you at least think that more effort went into this list than just putting “dog game” into Google.
Best Videogame Dog #1 – Rush from Mega Man
Rush is pretty much like Inspector Gadget crossed with Brain, the Swiss army knife of canine companions. Debuting in Mega Man 3 he basically replaced the lazily named “Items 1-3” from Mega Man 2 and became a cute little addition to the series that could be put on the box art (although Capcom USA decided not to in their wisdom, and instead opted for a picture of Mega Man shooting a robot in the groin)
As cool as Rush is there seems to be a dark history behind his appearances in the games. In Mega Man 3 he acted as a highly functional springboard and fully controllable jet, in Mega Man 4 the jet was only partially controllable and other than that you went where Rush gosh-darn wanted you to go, and by Mega Man 5 even the springboard thing wasn’t useful anymore. When Mega Man 6 and 7 came around though everyone was sick of his nonsense and Rush got smashed into pieces and Mega Man just flew around while wearing him as a jet pack. By Mega Man 9 Rush’s spirit was crushed and he was back to his basic coil and jet functions and never stood up for himself again.
Man, that’s sad. But we’ll never forget the times where Rush stood up for all of dogkind and would hilariously drop Mega Man to his death while flying over huge chasms if he wasn’t fed enough.
Best Videogame Dog #2 – Mira from Silent Hill 2
This is the little cutie from the infamous “dog ending” from Silent Hill 2. If you’ve got a bunch of the other endings in the game and do some other arbitrary stuff you can unlock this joke ending; where protagonist James Sunderland stumbles into a control room to find Mira standing on a little swivel chair and realises the entre experience was being manipulated by her the whole time.
Here’s the thing though, the Silent Hill 2 designers have said the game has no true canonical ending, in series lore it’s later revealed that James went to Silent Hill and disappeared. So the Mira ending is canonically just as viable as the other endings! Silent Hill 2 is a pretty good game; so the fact a dog could have such natural instincts for subtly, horror and narrative pacing is incredible, so Mira deserves some props for that. Also, she wears headphones that don’t actually cover her ears in any way, which all modern science confirms to be inarguably adorable.
(I am aware that Mira also appears in endings for Shattered Memories and Silent Hill Origins, but that is lame fan service trash so there will be no discussion of either of these games, so there.)
Best Videogame Dog #3 – The Frisbee Dog from Wii Sports Resort
It was between this and the Duck Hunt dog, and after some soul searching and intense thought it can be concluded that the Frisbee Dog (I’ve decided that’s its name) is way better.
Here’s the thing with Frisbee Dog, he never ever misses your Frisbee when he runs out to catch it, and he looks so happy about it. When calibrating the Wiimote for each throw you have point directly at the Frisbee in his mouth as he cheerfully wags his tail and shudders in anticipation. The only time Frisbee Dog fails to make a catch is when your throw is so god-damned pathetic that it goes flying off the screen. In which case on your next throw Frisbee Dog will stare at you in angsty frustration (seriously!) until of course you pick the Frisbee back up again, where he instantly re-hypes himself because all he wants is to catch more Frisbees.
This is so much better motivation than the Duck Hunt dog, who laughs at you if you screw up in a gargled 8-bit kind of way. The problem is the Duck Hunt dog is a jerk, a jerk that you can’t ever shoot in the face no matter how much you try, so who cares what he thinks. But screwing up and disappointing Frisbee Dog, the most adorable and capable companion you could ever have, that’s some deep psychological stuff. It’s like when you’re busy and only have time to take your own dog for a five minute walk, then he stares up at you as you unhook the lead as if to say “…are you freaking serious…?” It eats away at your soul.
Best Videogame Dog #4 – Missile from Ghost Trick
Oh dear, this is some unfortunate overlap, I already wrote a critically-acclaimed review of the critically-acclaimed Ghost Trick on this very site. But screw it, Missile is one of the best parts of that game and we’re talking about cool dogs so let’s go for it.
Missile is cool because he talks exactly how people imagine their dogs think. Of course dogs don’t really think anything; they’re scavenging pack animals whose instincts don’t expand much further than eating, pooping and sleeping. Let’s ignore all that though and get cutesy, Missile is adorable because he’s constantly talking about loyalty and getting confused by real world human objects. On top of that he’s a Pomeranian which are pretty much “broken tier” on the canine calendar of cuteness. SPOILER ALERT: He also dies at one point and comes back with the powers of the dead, and uses them to the full extent of their powers just to save his mistress.
Oo er, that was probably actually a bit too spoilery, I should probably leave this here. Consider the remainder of this paragraph a reminder that if you own a Nintendo DS or tablet device you should probably be playing Ghost Trick right now.
Best Videogame Dog #5 – Wonder Dog from umm, Wonder Dog
For those that don’t know, which is probably the vast majority of people reading this, Wonder Dog was a side-scrolling 2D platformer that came out for the Sega (Mega) CD and Amiga in 1992. The game also blows so don’t worry about playing it.
It’s seriously hilarious how much Wonder Dog sucks, in the sense that it plays like a collection of decisions made my businessmen who have never touched a videogame before, or if they have they washed their hands for 15-20 minutes straight afterwards. Using the Sega CDs FULL MOTION VIDEO the game starts out with a stupidly long opening cutscene that looks like something you’d see on Newgrounds.com in 200. It’s filled with dog puns and a story about Wonder Dog coming from a planet of dogs sent to Earth (it’s the Superman story, don’t worry about the details). After crashing on Earth in an extremely phallic spaceship he meets some kid and bonds with him like any other dog, but the kid’s dad won’t let him take Wonder Dog home, so the CHASE IS ON as you run through colourful worlds to find that kid again I guess.
The game itself is ridiculous, levels are called Zones instead of Acts so you don’t notice they’re ripping off Sonic (I noticed), there’s seriously a collection of levels called “Planet Weird”. Wonder Dog’s attack is shooting cartoon stars, but he bounces them off the ground like the fireballs in Super Mario Bros, but like he smashes the stars into the ground and they go flying uselessly towards the top of the screen. Whereas the Mario fireballs are delicate and deliberate in their bounce (and unlike Wonder Dog, aren’t the main way to attack enemies), the stars in Wonder Dog capture the game feel of a bunch of change falling out of your pocket when you pull out your keys. You have to play it to appreciate how stupid it is (don’t though).
Most hilariously of all, there’s a picture of Wonder Dog’s face on the GUI at the bottom of the screen, where he looks increasingly worn down as he takes hits like in freaking Wolfenstein 3D (the game pre-dates Doom). It’s unbelievable how much Wonder Dog is just a collection of crap thrown in a pot and vaguely packaged as something sellable, I flat out refuse to believe that anyone working on this knew anything about videogame design.
Here’s the thing; Wonder Dog is still actually kind of cute, as stupid as the opening cutscene the bit where he cries in it is still a bit of gut punch. There’s nothing worse than seeing a dog crying (partially because it’s physically impossible) even if does run around dressing like Mario and ripping off Sonic and dying a lot because he doesn’t control well. The only conclusion for this is; Wonder Dog is vaguely likeable based purely on the fact that he’s a dog, and isn’t that the best advertisement for dogs ever? Even freaking Wonder Dog on the Sega CD couldn’t find a way to make dogs rubbish, and that is why Wonder Dog gets a spot on this list, even though I’ll never think about him or his crap game ever again.
And with the best dogs in videogames ever set in stone and agreed upon by all, I’ll end this here. To make up for the fact that I stubbornly ignored him for no real reason, here’s K.K. Slider to play us out:
If you’d like to, you can also totally follow me on Twitter @Lesmocon