In recent years, video game dogs have become not just a wholesome meme but a back-of-the-box feature. The question of whether or not a digital dog can be pet is now often addressed directly by developers before a game releases, and even if they can’t be pet, developers sometimes use dogs as selling points for a game (as in the case of Wargroove’s adorable canine commander, Caesar). As such, the “best video game dogs” conversation is popular among players and publications alike — because why wouldn’t it be — but there are few pups that often get left out of the rankings. In celebration of International Dog Day, we decided to honor the most underrated video game dogs in the only way we know how. Read on for a list of our picks of the most underappreciated dogs in gaming.
Underrated video game dogs | Wolf Link in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Wolf Link may have plenty of time in the spotlight as one of the main mechanics in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but it’s Breath of the Wild’s iteration of Wolf Link that is sadly overlooked — and it’s all Nintendo’s fault. In the game’s behind-the-scenes art book, Creating a Champion, Nintendo detailed an early concept for a “navigator dog” that would follow Link around and fight enemies. The idea was scrapped, instead being implemented through the ridiculously large Twilight Princess HD Wolf Link amiibo. In order to summon a Wolf Link with more than three hearts into the game, players had to advance in the Cave of Shadows Twilight Princess HD dungeon, save the number of remaining hearts they had after completing the cave onto the amiibo, and then tap the amiibo into Breath of the Wild. This meant it’d be impossible to get a fully-powered version of Link’s canine companion without owning a Wii U, Twilight Princess HD, and the Wolf Link amiibo.
To make matters worse, Breath of the Wild infamously does not let Link pet any dogs — including Wolf Link — which led it to become the first game featured on the “Can You Pet the Dog?” Twitter account.
You cannot pet the dog in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild pic.twitter.com/04bvlkI5Ui
— Can You Pet the Dog? (@CanYouPetTheDog) March 5, 2019
Still, Wolf Link is an excellent companion that adds fun to Breath of the Wild, especially if you’ve run out of things to do or just want to enjoy exploring the game’s gorgeous world. The quiet Twilight Princess sound cue he makes when summoned, followed by his eager howl and the subtle tinkling of his wrist chain is incredibly endearing. Wolf Link does a lot to make Hyrule feel less sad and lonely, even if he can’t be petted.
Underrated video game dogs | Angelo in Final Fantasy 8 Remastered
Angelo, full name is Sant’ Angelo di Roma, is the pet of one of Final Fantasy 8 Remastered’s protagonists, Rinoa Heartilly. She assists Rinoa with many of her Limit Break abilities, including one called “Angelo Cannon,” where Rinoa launches Angelo at her enemies at high velocity. In one of Rinoa’s most powerful Limit Breaks, called “Wishing Star,” she hops on Angelo and the two charge at their enemies. This appears to send their enemies into an alternate dimension, where Angelo blasts through them like a shooting star. This essentially makes Angelo — who, again, appears to be a normal dog — one of the most powerful beings in the Final Fantasy 8 universe. And the craziest thing about it is that no one in Final Fantasy 8 ever questions what gives Angelo these abilities.
Like, did that dog just cause an explosion? Did she just launch a dog like a wrist-rocket? Why is no one talking about this?
Underrated video game dogs | Barbas from The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Ah, Skyrim. A wonderful world of immersive high fantasy… Or, at least it felt that way until you ran into Barbas. It’s not hard to see why someone wouldn’t like Barbas. His voice is a strange, harsh outlier among Skyrim’s usual Norse accents, leaving the player to question, as one Reddit user succinctly put it, “Why the fuck is Barbas from New York?” In subsequent playthroughs, though, he’ll grow on you. Even if he happens to sound like the third member of The Wet Bandits, he’s still cute most of the time, barking and panting as his tongue hangs out like any other dog in Skyrim. Plus, if you choose to recover the awesome Rueful Axe during Barbas’ “A Daedra’s Best Friend” quest and simply refrain from completing it (i.e. killing Barbas), he becomes a permanent, invincible companion. Just don’t accidentally hit him with the axe, since it’s his only weakness.
Underrated video game dogs | Manectric from Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
Let’s face it: There are way better dog Pokemon than Manectric. There’s the beloved Arcanine and adorable Growlithe, the Legendary Beasts, the D&D-esque Houndoom, and the simple, yet effective, Lycanroc. Even Stoutland and Furfrou are at least inoffensive, if a little boring, but Manectric is just plain silly. It’s got that ridiculous head spike, uncomfortably large ear holes, weird hip-fur tufts, and awkwardly bent tail. Pokemon X and Y gave it a Mega Evolution that made it look even more ridiculous, turning its head spike into a gigantic lightning-shaped mane that runs all the way down its back. And yet, it’s still kinda cool, isn’t it? Folks at Bulbapedia theorize that it could be based on the maned wolf, one of the strangest animals in existence, and its mouth resembles an alligator clip — you know, those clamps you pretend you know how to use when you’re jump starting a car. That’s cool!
Underrated video game dogs | Repede from Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
Alright, picture this: Dark Souls’ Greatwolf Sif, but he’s purple, has the tail of a thresher shark, a chain around his neck, a scar across one missing eye, a blue mohawk, and a pipe in his mouth. That is Tales of Vesperia’s Repede. Repede is the absolute picture of cool, and he’s got to be one of the most JRPG-ass JRPG characters ever created. While he may not be giant like Sif, the sword Repede carries also isn’t for show. He can participate in battles, and his shorter height even allows some enemy attacks to go above his hitbox and miss. Tales of Vesperia was originally an Xbox 360 exclusive, but it was rereleased on PS3 and later on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch as Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, so it’s easier than ever to see this dope dog in action.
It also shouldn’t be missed that Vesperia has a freaking Repede snowboarding minigame. Check out this awesomeness (thanks, Fizz with DFG). As protagonist Yuri says, “He’s one badass pup.”
Underrated video game dogs | Giraffe from The Last of Us
It would have ruined the most emotional scene in one of gaming’s best stories, but The Last of Us’ giraffe scene should have begun with Ellie asking Joel, “Hey, is that a tall, long dog?” Ellie grew up in a world thoroughly ruined by The Last of Us’ cordyceps infection. While she apparently consumed a lot of media from the pre-apocalypse world, there’s also a pretty good chance Ellie never saw a giraffe before that moment. To boot, the giraffe-petting audio was apparently captured by PlayStation sound designers Phillip Kovats and Derrick Espino, who recorded themselves petting Kovats’ late dog, Ollie. Folks, if it looks like a dog (depending on your prior knowledge) and it sounds like a dog, then doggone it, it’s a dog.
Interesting bit of trivia. For the giraffe sequence, @derrickespino and I recorded the petting of my dog, Ollie, while he slept on his favorite recliner. Seeing this always makes me miss him, but happy this moment brings joy to so many. ♥️ #gameaudio pic.twitter.com/jd6UFBSr3y
— phillip kovats (@philsound) August 17, 2019