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Amateratsu and Chibiterasu

What's better than a puppy? How about a puppy who is also a GOD?! Amaterasu and her "sun" (ha ha, get it?) Chibiterasu are the respective protagonists of Okami and Okamiden, two Zelda-like RPGs set in a country resembling feudal Japan, and are the canine incarnations of the Japanese sun god. Don't let their divine nature's fool you, though; the pair are dogs, through and through.

Amaterasu herself is more like a wolf than a dog in many respects, but she shares a lot in common with the sort of heroic dogs one might see in old children's movies. She is elegant, agile, and deadly, but still is not above urinating on her enemies. Despite her friendly and helpful nature, she is a wild dog nonetheless, and it's her son, Chibiterasu, that really shows what it is to be man's best friend.

Chibiterasu winds up with over five different owners over the course of the game, and each of them has their own name for the little fellow, from Mutt to Squiddy to Pork Chop. Chibi's youthful puppy antics are the highlight of his game, adorably rendered with terrific cel-shading on the Nintendo DS. He dances, he prances, he covers his little nose with his little paws, he yawns widely — if your puppy has done something adorable in the past, the chances are that Chibiterasu will do it too.

Together, Ammy and Chibi prove that Gods don't have to be vengeful, dangerous beings capable of wanton destruction — they can also be super cute while doing it! — Adriaan den Ouden



Barkspawn/Dog

In Dragon Age: Origins, players can recruit a Mabari war hound initially named Dog (unofficially dubbed Barkspawn by Penny-Arcade and then officially by Alistair in DLC) into the party. Barkspawn is not a disposable character, but much like a real dog is a full-on companion. This companion, however, has warrior skills, customizable AI, and extensive party interaction. Unlike the rest of the characters in Origins, Barkspawn is a loyal friend who will not leave your side for making a decision he doesn't agree with. In fact, Barkspawn doesn't care about your decisions. Instead, he would rather lick the gore off of you than look down on you. He is a highly intelligent character and brings about some of the funniest party dialogue in Origins. Watch the dog and Sten have a standoff in which Sten declares the dog "a true warrior" is not only humorous, but a statement to the respect animals deserve.

Barkspawn is the equivalent of a military or police service dog in this fantasy world, and those animals fight alongside some of the bravest people in the world and should be treated accordingly. Dragon Age: Origins does a great job of showing how dogs can be more than just a pet. Animals are companions who join us in our struggles, in our good times and our bad. Much like Barkspawn, they don't judge and don't care about the rights and wrongs of the world. They simply care about us. In a game where a major focus is on character interaction, the interaction between the player and Barkspawn is one of the most impressive experiences. BioWare should be commended for it. — Michael Cunningham



Cerberus

There's nothing like having a best friend who is willing to accompany you to hell and back. In Star Ocean: The Last Hope, at the age of six a talented Lemurian Symbologist named Lymle accidentally opened the portal to the demon realm. Sensing her fear, a stranger rescued Lymle from hell. He would later become her friend and guardian. This stranger is none other than the scarf toting flame lit beast named Cerberus. Cerberus may not be considered a standard canine friend, but he is loyal and faithful towards Lymle as would a dog.

Though Cerberus's primary purpose in Star Ocean: The Last Hope is an extension of Lymle's fire based Symbology talents during battles, he occasionally appears accompanying her on the Calnus. Whether it is eating cookies, dog training, chasing cats, or breaching the trust of certain party comrades through circus styled tricks, Cerberus is occasionally the topic of attention in the relationship development, Private Actions, of several characters. In particular, Cerberus is one of the catalysts in Lymle and Faize's relationship. Although the two did not start off on the right foot, it is through Cerberus who Lymle attempts to cope with her emotions during Faize's absence.

As the end of the game focused more on the relationship between Lymle and Faize, at times it overshadows Cerberus's connection to Lymle. Regardless of his limited appearance, Cerberus created several memorable and humorous moments in the game, kay? — Chloe Kung



Dog

Fable 2's dog doesn't have an official name, but that's part of what makes him so special. He's just a mutt you happen to save from a bunch of bullies on the street during your childhood, but he turns into a lifelong friend, living many, many times longer than any dog should. After rescuing him, you give him a name, and he follows you everywhere, sniffing up treasure, nipping at bad folks' heels, and generally acting like... well, a dog. You can play with him, tease him, pet him, teach him tricks, and do all the things one would normally do with a pet. You fall in love with him; he becomes as important a piece of the game as the main character himself.

And then, in what has to be one of the most brutally horrific moments in the entirety of gaming, he gets shot in the face and dies. — Adriaan den Ouden

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