The very moment we here at wasduk heard about the November release of Call of Duty: Ghosts, we realised that we didn’t give the slightest shit about it.
However, endless pub hours around the world have no doubt been dedicated to the one feature on everyone’s lips: the fact that there’s a dog in it! Bravo, Activision. Kudos Infinity Ward. You know exactly how to keep a franchise fresh. That said, despite our stoic lack of interest in the game, we have taken the time to devise a list of the 10 best games that feature dogs. Call of Duty won’t be on it. Fuck Call of Duty.
10. Mira – The Silent Hill series
When all the other canines of Silent Hill were busy transforming into skinless, shambling hell-beasts, one brave little quadruped had different ideas. She (we think, we never checked) decided that if the town was going to Hell (probably literally) in a hand-basket (probably figuratively) then she wasn’t going skinless without a fight. So she did what any good dog would do, and…signed a pact with aliens, or something. We’re a bit squiffy on the details along with everyone else in the world. But suffice to say that while James Sunderland is beating his own sexual hang-ups with a pipe and Travis Grady is taking pot-shots at his parental issues, Mira (which is apparently her name) is chilling out in space, and willing to lend a helping hand if the player goes to some rather great lengths to do so.
Not only does she seem to control the events of Silent Hill 2, but Travis can obtain a Mira suit as an unlockable outfit. Most bizarrely of all, she also receives musical credits for a game. Yes, she is listed alongside Akira Yamaoka as providing the guitar accompaniment for “Waiting for You” on the Silent Hill 3 OST. Who’s a good girl? YOU ARE. YES YOU ARE.
9. Parappa the Rapper (apparently) – The Parappa series
Yeah, this one was kind of news to us, too. We weren’t sure if Parappa was a dog, or just a weird-looking kid, but we’ve done our wiki-research, and it confirms that “Parappa is a rapping dog”, which just about clears us of any doubt. It also adds that his motto is “I gotta believe!”, which makes sense to us. If you’re a two-dimension boy-dog who learns martial arts from a vegetable, then faith is just about the last thing you have left. Parappa’s main quest revolves around taking on various self-empowerment tasks in misguided attempts to win over the affections of girl-dog Sunny Funny, which goes against everything we know about canine mating rituals. We believe that if the game were slightly more true to what we DO know about canine mating rituals, it would be a lot less accessible to the tween market, but a lot more interesting from a design standpoint.
Besides being a dog who has the ability to fight, drive and cook, Parappa’s most noticeable aspect is that he can do all of these things while rapping. As grown human adults who can’t drive, cook well or perform martial arts let alone do it while free-styling, Parappa makes us feel woefully inadequate.
8. Interceptor – Final Fantasy VI
If you want to be a successful assassin, rather than one of the many assassin hopefuls who work day jobs in Starbucks but are SO eager to tell you all about their degree in liberal assassination from the “Ra’s Al Ghul Online Academy”, then you need one thing. One thing that sets you apart from the rest. That one thing is a bloody great big Doberman pinscher. Or possibly an Alsatian. We’re not really sure what Interceptor is, but we are sure of one thing; he is Death, in diminutive doggy dimensions.
He’s not always standing by the side of his master, Shadow, though. Sometimes, he’s screaming across the screen to put the bite-down on some hapless monster, or leaping through the air, protecting his master from attacks, carrying what looks like a little tiny doggy-blade. Now, that’s cute.
However, this usefulness comes at a price, and that price seems to be the insanely-high upkeep of such a fine hound. At one point in the game Shadow asks you for 3000 gil to “feed interceptor”. Now, we’re going to go ahead and assume that it’s not some weird euphemism for his crippling rock habit here, and take stock for a moment. 3000 gil. For dog food. To put things into perspective, that’s roughly 10 mithril knives. That’s a whopping 30 potions.
Useful he may be, but we’re not made of gil. He can eat what we kill, and think himself lucky.
7. Dogmeat – The Fallout series
Ah, Dogmeat. So much love for such a flimsy NPC. Okay, we’re going to take a lot of flak for this, but Dogmeat had to be the most annoying and useless character since KOTOR’s Carth Onasi stopped in the middle of a firefight to talk about your relationship. You’d pick Dogmeat up in various places throughout the series, and the glee at finding and recruiting him would last just long enough for you to use him in battle. Which, incidentally is also just long enough for him to get his canine head caved in by something angry with a sledgehammer. Dogmeat’s chances of survival in the wasteland were about the same as a Londoner in Cornwall. Zero.
Unlike Arcanum’s ‘worthless mutt’, Dogmeat ends up being about as much use as a haute cuisine at LIDL, but we know he’ll be there in the next game, just waiting for the player to find him, and lead him off to his gruesome demise.
What makes this even worse is those players who insist on keeping him alive. The ones who constantly reload old saves whenever he’s stupid enough to jump in front of their machine gun fire, or launch himself, fangs bared, at the muzzle of a minigun. These are the people who make Facebook pages for their pets, and insist that the loathsome creatures sleep, eat and shower with them. These people are to be avoided.
6. Hewie – Haunting Ground
Now here’s a dog that we’d be proud to own. When you find him, he’s been tied to a tree with a length of wire cable, because even an immortality-crazed psychopath and his cabal of monstrous goons are afraid to take this badass on in a straight fight. Once rescued, he aids the player character, Fiona Belli (who looks a little too much like RE4’s Ashley Graham) against all the forces of the Addams’ Family’s less hinged cousins.
Hewie from ‘Haunting Ground’ (originally named ‘Demento’ in Japan because they’re shite at naming things) is probably one of the bravest dogs in all video games, made all the more noticeable by the fact that you’re playing the game as Fiona, a weaponless, helpless, hapless young girl, trapped in a massive house full of twisted alchemical terrors. In many ways, Haunting Ground reminds us of most of our Uni parties. Except for the massive house. And how we wish we’d had a friend like Hewie along for that ride. He can attack your pursuers, fetch items, and above all keep you sane as you look for a way to escape.
Oh, and you can kick and abuse him if you want to, but we’d advise against it. The bad ending of this game is one of the most soul-shatteringly horrifying in gaming history.
5. Attack dog – the Command and Conquer: Red Alert series
The only thing better than a cool dog in a video game is the option to breed entire legions of the damn things and post them around your base, where they will rush anything that comes into range, and tear it to pieces with less critical judgement than a morbidly obese cannibal at a nudist beach. Even their bark is sonar-enhanced, and even a few of these things are a flat-out menace to infantry, but a horde of the things are like a rushing, barking wall of oh-no-you-don’t. Unless the enemy has a tank. No matter how good these dogs are, they aren’t going to bite through metal.
However, despite the fleshy limitations of the attack dog, it remains a firm favourite with serious (read: obsessive) players, who will use these swift little beauties to great effect, camping enemy barracks to stun and chow down on newly-created units, or just keep them outside garrisoned structures, daring the enemy player to pop their head out of the door and get it torn off by the ravening psycho-wolves outside.
And let’s not forget their primary purpose of spy-killing. Traditionally, the attack dogs in the Command and Conquer have been able to sniff out enemy spies, and lunge at them, ruining secret agents harder than Quantum of Solace.
Of course, the dog’s natural enemy has always been the bear, and Red Alert is no different, as shown HERE.
4. Peter Puppy – Earthworm Jim
The origins of Peter Puppy are unknown.
Well, okay, they’re not unknown, we just don’t remember them. We only remember really enjoying Earthworm Jim, despite not having any idea what was going on, and the barrage of weird scenes, goofy visuals and insane ‘randomness’ pleased our young minds like never before. When you’re 12, not knowing what the hell is going on is a plus, whereas at the age of 34, it’s looked upon as some terrible early on-set Alzheimer’s disease, and people tut at you all the time. He had an origin in the cartoon, but we can’t be bothered to look it up for fear of remembering that 90’s cartoons were basically just trash, made invulnerable by the armour of nostalgia.
However, we would have given our left (not yet fully functional) testicle for Peter Puppy as kids, no matter who he was, or where he came from. The ability to hulk out into a massive, snarling monster until tickled, and then belch yourself back to normal is the number one thing a kid vows to ask for if given access to Santa Claus/Endebted Wizard/Friendly Djinn.
It takes a lot to delight us, world-weary, old, cynical shits that we are. It takes a lot more to make us take the role of a worm in a space suit, bouncing baby dogs on a giant marshmallow to the tune of Tarantella Napoletana. Peter Puppy…is one of those things.
3. The Dog – The Secret of Evermore
Secret of Evermore is a sad case. One of the lost SNES gems that will forever be known as “the sequel to Secret of Mana, isn’t it?”, despite the fact that the two games have very, very little in common. The storyline isn’t much to write home about. Some kid and his dog (yes, we’re getting there, slowly) trust an old, senile inventor a little too much, and are magically poofed into a strange world encompassing a series of settings, from prehistoric to futuristic. It’s like if Lost wasn’t boring and had a baby with The Crystal Maze.
Anyway, your dog (who you get to name in lieu of the actual owner, who had presumably been calling it ‘dog’ all this time for some sense of reverse irony) is the real star of the show, here. Tagging along for the ride because it trusts its master not to get it lost in a strange tangle of fantasy worlds, it ends up transforming into different (but all completely awesome) versions of itself depending on what world you go to, from wolf to weird toaster-robot with a pit-stop through poodle. Yes. Besides, you got to control him, and once we figured that out, we were set.
2. Red XIII – Final Fantasy VII (and assorted rubbish sequels)
Okay, cheating again. We’re not sure WHAT Red XIII is. He LOOKS like a dog, but he could equally be a wolf, or a coyote, or some weird animal from the world of Final Fantasy VII that doesn’t have a name. Fuck it. He’s got four legs and a tail, and he isn’t quite a cat, so that’s dog enough for us.
The player first meets Red XIII when rescuing naively-lovable sword-bait Aeris from the sinister experiments of resident nut-job scientist, Hojo. His plan to breed them both shows a lack of anatomical knowledge that would be startling anywhere outside a pre-school game of doctors and nurses, but he seems to figure that as they are both endangered species, they should get along just fine. We have always wanted to adapt this into a pick-up line, and have not yet had the chance. Once this ridiculous farce of a plan has been foiled, the two characters are let out of the breeding chamber, strangely nonplussed by the situation. From that point on, he joins you as a permanent member of the party. Yet nobody brings up the fact that he’s actually orange.
Of course, because he’s a flimsily-disguised Native American spirit animal parallel, his main attack weapons are combs and headdresses, which makes absolutely zero sense unless he specifically likes to dress up fancy to head-butt his enemies. Red XIII makes the list for setting back the cause of Native Americans at least a decade in the minds of the Japanese. And speaking of Native Americans..
1. Dog spirit – Shadowrun SNES
It’s the year 2012, and magic has returned to the Earth, just like those long-dead lunatics with squiffy calendars and groovy astronaut pictures said it would. And it brought with it Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Cool technology (though that might have been here already) and more Native American spirits than happy hour at a Nevada homeless shelter.
One such spirit is Dog, who, judging from the cut of his awesome pajama suit, isn’t about to take any shit from player character Jake Armitage, no matter how many points in Charisma he has. First met, like all trustworthy characters, while trespassing at the docks, he’s powerful enough to make you jump through hoops before becoming his shaman, and wielding spells in his name. His task? To collect artifacts for him, dropped by his followers, animal, creature and man. With these artifacts, he offers to teach you the spells you need to become a top-class shaman in no time.
That’s right. This dog is powerful enough to tell you to go fetch before he gives you a treat.
…FUCK Call of Duty.