No disrespect to fellow editor Samit Sarkar and other sports lovers, but SCREW THE SUPERBOWL! As fun as it is to watch sweaty grown men ram into each other over and over (and over!) again, your best bet for the most entertaining, excitement-filled “Bowl” happening this Sunday is, hands down, the Puppy Bowl.
Airing on Animal Planet every year at the same time as the Super Bowl, the Puppy Bowl is basically the greatest thing you will ever see. The concept is simple: "teams" of cute puppies play in a giant, stadium-shaped pen for two glorious hours, interrupted only by shots of bunny cheerleaders and God’s greatest creation, the Kitty Halftime Show.
You have not lived until you have watched the Puppy Bowl. I look forward to it every year.
To celebrate the arrival of this magnificent television event -- and to get everyone in the puppy-loving mood -- I thought it would be fun to take a look at the ten best puppies ever featured in videogames.
Yup. I did this. PUPPIES!
I have a surprising amount of compassion for the completely misunderstood dog in NES classic Duck Hunt.
First off, he doesn’t even have a name. Abandoned when he was a puppy, the poor pooch lives in a swamp and is forced to retrieve dead ducks for random hunters for scraps of food -- anything he can get to make it through his laborious, never-ending days. Every time a player hits START he is there, ready for action.
And although he occasionally laughs at you for missing a shot with your (light) gun, those giggles do nothing to hide the pain that hides behind those adorable puppy dog eyes.
Plus, how many of you have tried to shoot at the dog in Duck Hunt every time he pops up on the screen?
Shame on you.
At the start of Animal Crossing, K.K. Slider -- a cute, white pup -- greets the player with a guitar and welcomes them to their village.
During the game, he sits on a stool by the train station and plays songs for anyone that asks for one.
So, yeah, he is a puppy that sings and plays guitar.
Is there anything else that needs to be said?
The first time I encountered Peter Puppy in cult classic Earthworm Jim I thought he was absolutely precious. But then things changed rather quickly.
I think my entire train of thought progressed like this when I reached the “For Pete’s Sake!” level:
“Aw, look! That puppy is so cute! He is pink! Awwwww!”
“MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING?! THE CUTE PUP JUST TURNED INTO A GIANT MONSTER AND IS EATING EARTHWORM JIM!”
When angered or injured, the deceptively adorable Peter Puppy turns into a massive beast with nothing but maiming on his mind.
I think it made me love him even more.
Sure, Rush is not an organic puppy and could cause tetanus from petting him too hard, but that doesn’t make him any less cute (or helpful!).
First appearing in Mega Man 3 for the NES, Rush is a robotic dog created by Dr. Light to help Mega Man in precarious situations. When called, Rush can transform into many different forms, including a spring, jet, or submarine. Yeah, that’s right: A FREAKIN’ SUBMARINE!
As much as I love my dog ... I really wish she could turn into a submarine.
The underrated Secret of Evermore for the Super Nintendo is the strange spiritual successor to the legendary Secret of Mana. Although the gameplay is very similar to the classic Mana, Evermore sports many differences.
For one, it takes place in a modern-day setting, following a young boy that has been transported to the mystical land of Evermore, a world composed of various regions based on different periods of real world history.
And instead of other human-like companions joining his party, Secret of Evermore finds the game’s main character being accompanied by a friendly pet dog -- a computer-controlled puppy that will attack enemies and help the main character out in many ways.
Oh, did I also mention this loyal pup changes form depending on the region the main character travels to?
In a few levels of best 2D platformer ever made* Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Yoshi and Baby Mario ride on top of maybe the cutest puppy to ever grace a videogame: Poochy.
Oh, Poochy. You and your massive smile and dangling tongue. You are just as adorable as you are absolutely nuts.
You may be completely insane, but you can run on hot lava and deadly spikes without a hint of slowing down. Not a lot of dogs can do that. Well, except my dog. She can do anything (outside of turning into a submarine).
*In my humble opinion.
In most videogames, dogs are usually side characters that only appear to help the player in different situations (see: every pup on this list so far).
Boney (best name for a dog ever?) in Mother 3, however, is a fully playable character that joins the party when main character Lucas grows up. And he is not one of those RPG characters that is useless and under-powered. Not only does Boney have one of the fastest attacks in the game, he boasts some pretty powerful moves.
And Boney can only equip hats and collars throughout the entire game, just like a playable dog RPG character should. So cute.
Still not convinced of his greatness? Please click here to see what Boney looks like later in the game when he is forced to stand on his hind legs and put on a shirt and hat to sneak into a nightclub.
If that doesn’t make you smile there is no hope for you.
Okay, how do I best explain Mira’s role in Silent Hill 2? Eh, I guess it’s best to just type it and let you judge for yourself how awesome/ridiculous it is.
There are massive spoilers below, so if you haven’t played (or completed) Silent Hill 2, skip ahead. This reveal is too amazing to ruin.
Silent Hill 2, while known for being one of the best and scariest survival horror games ever created, is notorious for having many different endings, each one offering a separate explanation for what the heck happened during the game's disturbing and twisted narrative.
One of the endings -- cleverly referred to as the “Dog Ending” -- shows main character James Sutherland walking into a room to find a Shiba Inu puppy pulling levers on a massive computer. Mira the puppy, as the dog is known, is revealed to be the mastermind behind the events of the game.
Yup, I am not kidding.
After falling to the ground in disbelief, Mira then proceeds to hop down from the computer and lick the face of James Sutherland as the game fades away to an absolutely ridiculous credit sequence that needs to be seen (and heard!) to be believed.
While completely absurd, Mira and the “Dog Ending” of Silent Hill 2 is one of the best and most memorable videogame conclusions of all time.
Parappa from funky PlayStation game Parappa the Rapper is awesome. We all know that.
But let’s just take a moment to list exactly why this is:
-He raps (obviously).
-He wears a rad beanie.
-He practices kung-fu.
-He drives a car.
-He pees in a human bathroom.
I mean, come on. Just ... come on.
As much as I love all the pups on this list, Interceptor from Final Fantasy VI was an easy pick for my #1 videogame puppy of all time.
Interceptor is the pet dog of fan favorite Shadow, the mysterious ninja. When playing as Shadow, Interceptor will sometimes attack enemies, performing devastating moves that inflict a surprising amount of damage.
Even outside of battles, Interceptor is incredible.
Befriending character Relm for reasons I would never spoil here, Interceptor proves to be just as sweet and playful as he is deadly.
Throughout the entirety of the perfectly-constructed Final Fantasy VI, Interceptor is the one character that knows nothing but loyalty and love.
If I were to select one videogame pup to have by my side on an epic adventure -- and snuggle with me at night -- Interceptor would be my first choice.
And in quick, Twitter-length bites, here is a list of runners-up -- some other memorable videogame dogs I didn’t have the heart to ignore.
What do you think? Do you agree with my picks for the best videogame puppies of all time? Who are some of your favorites? Have any of you out there named your real-life pup after a dog featured in a videogame?
Talking about puppies never gets old, so hit the comments! (Cute puppy pics are welcome.)