Home > Video Games > Seven Video Games That Let You Play As Kickass Canines

Seven Video Games That Let You Play As Kickass Canines

The saying goes that dogs are a man’s best friend. Certain video games have decided that dogs should be a gamer’s best friend too, giving your characters a lovable pooch to aid you in your quest to destroy the Evil Whatever on Mount Doomydoom.

Final Fantasy VIII even let you shoot a dog out of a cannon.

But some games go that extra mile by actually allowing you to play as the dog itself. Today, we honour those playable canines and demonstrate just why the video game world needs more magical dogs with superpowers.

(I’m going to lay down some ground rules for this: each entry has to be all-canine. None of this “was actually something else but was cursed into a dog form” or werewolf crap. Furthermore, the canine must have full Player Character rights- being directly controllable at the very least- even if it’s just for a short time.)

Also, be warned that there are spoilers below.

With that said, let’s get into the list!

Persona 3 (Koromaru)

Koromaru is based on the Japanese tale of Hachiko, a real-life dog whose loyalty to his first owner persisted years after his death. (The owner’s, not Hachiko. Hachiko may be awesome but he’s no Ghost Hound.) The story is so famous that there’s a statue of Hachiko in the Shibuya district of Japan, right outside the main train station. When you first meet Koromaru, it’s the same story: his master has been killed, but he keeps waiting for his return. Soon afterwards, your party finds out that Koromaru has the same demon-fighting powers that they do, and promptly do what any sane person would in that situation: adopt him into the family and outfit him with a bark-operated summoning system, complete with tiny angel wings and sweater.

But What Really Makes Him Kickass?
Leaving aside the fact that his Persona has goddamn tridents for feet, Koromaru’s moment of triumph comes when the whole party is captured by the game’s resident Bad Guy, who intends to sacrifice them to unleash the End Of The World et cetera et cetera. He’s even gone to the trouble of crucifying them, as villains are want to do when you want your evil plan to seem vaguely symbolic. The whole party, except one! In a move that would make John McClane proud, Koromaru launches a one-dog assault against the villain’s evil lair, defeating him and preventing the destruction of mankind. Good boy!

Shadow Hearts: Covenant (Blanca)

I’m convinced that Blanca is the standard by which all videogame canines should be held to. Sleek, brave and cool, Blanca is one of the most intelligent members in your party (a sentiment backed up by comparing ability scores in the menus) and on the frontlines his sheer versatility- second only to his shapeshifting master Yuri- makes him one of the best characters to have. What’s more, Blanca gains new abilities by taking part in a worldwide, no-holds-barred, canine-only fighting competition called the Wolf Bout. Awesome!

But What Really Makes Him Kickass?
I’m starting to see a trend here with dogs and JRPG parties: the silly humans get themselves captured by the bad guys, leaving the lone canine party member to stage a daring one-dog rescue. And so Blanca infiltrates a prison, possibly while barking the tune to The Great Escape. In (what I am sure is) a brilliant parody of forced stealth sections in games that are not suited for it, Blanca is faced with just such a sneaking scenario… and can proceed to beat up all the patrolling guards with incredible ease while suffering no in-game penalties for being “found”. Excellent!

Shin Megami Tensei (Cerberus)

 

Shin Megami Tensei (the original one, released in 1992) dares to answer the question that we all asked at one point when we were six years old: what would happen if you threw your family dog into a demon fusion device and pressed “blend”?  An eight-foot tall, fire-breathing engine of awesome, that’s what! Cerberus enters your party a full thirty or so levels ahead of everything else, tearing through demon scum like a bowl of wet dog biscuits at teatime.

But What Really Makes Him Kickass?
He retains his loyalty to you even after transforming to the point where he could easily eat you up and declare itself the main character of a new series of spinoff games. Faced with a berserk Demon Summoning device that is about to open a direct portal to Hell, Cerberus does what any action hero would do and throws itself into the fire, pulling off a heroic sacrifice to save you from death via sexual ecstasy at the hands of Satan’s personal succubi harem. Uh… good boy?

Dragon Age (Barkspawn)

Play as the Human Noble in Bioware’s dark fantasy epic, and you’re immediately gifted with a “purebred Mabori warhound”. In other words, a small machine of destruction that you can point towards evil. Your dog (default name: “Dog”, better name: “Barkspawn”) may not have the best combat abilities but its loyalty is locked at 100% and it frequently annoys the party’s regular bitch (not that kind) by leaving “presents” in her rucksack. That’s my boy!

But What Really Makes Him Kickass?
You really haven’t experienced true pleasure until you order your dog to bite the balls of some of the most important people in the world. Okay, maybe there wasn’t a specific command for doing that but I certainly imagined there was as I took my trusty hound into battles against some of the greatest military minds in that universe.

Meanwhile, if you pick an origin other than Human Noble, things get even more badass: you first meet Barkspawn in an army encampment and can bond by giving him medicine to cure a life-threatening infection. After the Battle of Ostagar, Barkspawn appears out of nowhere to savage some darkspawn and join your party. It seems Bioware neglected to include the cutscenes where Barkspawn awoke from his near-death experience, found that Shit Had Gotten Real, and fought his way to safety through the  demonic hordes that had just slaughtered two armies, one of which had been specifically trained to fight against them.

That dog needs a medal. All the medals.

Siren 2 (Tsukasa)

Tsukasa is the guide dog of Shu Mikami, one of the main characters in this PS2 survival horror game from the creators of Silent Hill. At one point, the blind Shu has to escape from a village that is currently undergoing zombie occupation, and as Tsukasa you must lead your master to safety. It’s an ingenious use of the game’s “sight jack” mechanic, as well as creating tension from having to ensure the safety of more than one character.

But What Really Makes Her Kickass?
Tsukasa is one of the very, very, very few characters who unambiguously manages to survive both zombie apocalypses in Siren 2 and return home all safe and sound. Not only that, she manages to save another character in the process, thus ensuring that she has not only returned to a world of tasty treats and squeaky toys, but that there’s at least one human around to give them to her. This manages to officially make Tsukasa the most competent protagonist in that entire game.

Tales of Vesperia (Repede)

I’m certain that Repede and Blanca are distantly related. From his lightning-bolt tail and scar over his eye, to his “I just don’t give a crap” attitude and wicked-cool smoking habit, Repede could have easily been one of those clichéd “cool” anti-heroes if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s a dog. As the companion of main character Yuri Lowell, Repede is with your party from the beginning to the end of Vesperia, like any faithful dog who wields a dagger in his mouth should be. True to his name, Repede is the fastest member of the party and capable of dealing some outstanding damage. He’s also by far the best item user, becoming an inspirational figure to dogs everywhere by overcoming his handicap of no opposable thumbs.

But What Really Makes Him Kickass?
A sub-quest allows Repede to engage in a literal pissing contest with another dog. I could end this section right here, but I’ll elaborate: you have to race across the world “marking” territories and trying to claim as many as possible from your arch-rival. Along the way, Repede engages in random acts of kickassery, like tearing down the tyranny imposed by Evil Dog and saving the lives of innocent cats from evil. Eventually, Repede becomes the Top Dog of the animal kingdom: a kind of cross between Vito Corleone and Lassie.

Okami (Amaterasu)

Okay, I know I said that entries had to be “pure dog”, and Amaterasu is technically a goddess reincarnated as a wolf. But Amaterasu can piss on enemies, and in my book any non-Greek goddess who pisses on any living creature automatically forfeits her title. So with that out of the way, Amaterasu is practically the Chuck Norris of wolves. A whirlwind of leaves follow in her wake, she double-jumps without care for the tears shed by Gravity, and she wields awesome… uh, calligraphy powers.

But What Really Makes Her Kickass?
Saving the whole goddamn world on her own, that’s what. This isn’t one of these games where the dog is just one part of a world-saving team primarily manned by humans: Amaterasu is taking on eldritch abominations and restoring the beauty of nature to the world all by herself. And she doesn’t just defeat one ultimate evil: she beats three of the goddamn things, then ascends into space to travel to other galaxies and kick some ass there too. Space Wolf is watching over you, man. Put your faith in her, and maybe, just maybe, she can afford that next health expansion.

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  1. Luki
    January 28, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I shoulda known you’d find the rest of em through Shin megami and Persona ^_^ Great article An-chan.

  2. January 31, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Awesome. XD
    I figured Ammy HAD to be there, and Blanca too.

  1. January 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm

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