The Top 7… Canine companions

We like to post stories that matter to serious gamers. So when our editors were forced to decide between running some leaked concept art for Gears of War 3 or a list of memorable dogs from games we liked, it was a no-brainer. Behold our ultimate list of gaming’s greatest canine companions, the sidekicks who did so much more for us than simply sit, beg, and not poop on our carpet.

The game: Duck Hunt
The master: An anonymous duck hunter with no respect for the daily bag limits outlined in his/her hunting license.
How he served: Whenever you downed a duck, your faithful pal would fetch it for you. If you missed, it would laugh. We like to think that your dog was laughing with you and not at you.

Trivia: In VS. Duck Hunt - the arcade version - you could actually shootyour dog if you timed it just right. But why would you ever want to blast your best friend in the face?

Above: Who’s laughing now? See the Duck Hunt dog get a face full of lead

The game: Samurai Shodown
The master: Galford
How he served: Ryu had his Hadouken and Guile had his Sonic Boom. But Samurai Shodown’s Galford had Poppy, one of the most memorable projectile attacks in the history of fighting games. Poppy never left Galford’s side as he dashed across the screen with his Justice Blade. Even if your opponent managed to disarm you with a flurry of attacks, you could always count on Poppy to stick by your side, waiting for the order to pounce.

Rant: Galford and Poppy made quite a pair, but dogs should never have to fight in real life. When American football player Michael Vic confessed to participating in an illegal dogfighting ring in 2007, the cruel nature of the bloody sport was brought back into the spotlight with gruesome details about how dogs were killed by drowning and hanging if they didn’t perform well.

The game: Dead to Rights
The master: Officer Jack Slate
How he served: Officer Jack Slate doled out delicious bowls of steaming justice with Shadow, his trusty canine partner. Besides sniffing out bombs and pushing buttons for you, Shadow also attacked criminals on command. Best of all, he fetched ammo and guns from mauled victims to help you restock on supplies.

Non sequitur:K-9: P.I., starring James Belushi, was the best film that was ever made.

The game: Shadow Dancer
The master: Hayate
How he served: In addition to his katana, ninja stars, and the typical special powers you’d expect an ultimate ninja to carry, Hayate also had Yamato, a loyal pup who helped his master slay bad guys and save civilian hostages from their captors. In Shadow Dancer, Hayate could order Yamato to charge at enemies with no fear. When damaged, Yamato would shrink from his fearsome form into an adorable puppy. Responsible ninjas quickly learned that it was best to not pit Yamato against stronger enemies who took multiple hits to kill.

Theory: Ever wonder why ninjas almost always wear black in movies and videogames? One theoryis thatthe origin of the ninja’s all-black uniform came from Japanese thespians. Kabuki puppet masterscovered themselvesin black garb to signify that they were invisible to the audience. When kabuki plays began depicting ninjas, the puppets were dressed in similarcostumes to emphasize their elusive nature.

Above: You can charge Yamato's doggy meter at the bottom of the screen to unleash his rush attack

Above: Yamato can’t kill with cute looks when prancing in his puppy form