PAL: Shinken Densetsu

While I can't say that I liked his game very much, Pal of PAL: Shinken Densetsu is a perfect example of man's best friend going above and beyond the call of duty. When his beloved master is kidnapped by a shadowy cabal, Pal goes through various ordeals to gain the power to save her. Over the course of the story he is blown up, electrocuted, half-drowned, haunted, forced to traverse an upside-down world, face down his best friend, and even work a part-time job at the local supermarket. In the end, there is no force on heaven or earth that can get between this dog and his girl. — Michael Baker


Throughout the ages, man's best friend has accompanied his master onto the battlefield, and the future is no different. Pochi the battle dog first appeared in the original Metal Max as an optional challenge battle, but the energetic cyborg akita proved so popular with the fans that he has returned as an ally in every game in the series since then. Officially he's a descendant of a breed of genetically engineered supercanines, and his creators left behind an amazing assortment of weaponry with which to decimate the foes of man- and puppy-kind alike.

In the future, Pochi's breed even has its own form of society. Metal Max 2 features a town populated only by dogs, any of which may be recruited. Only Pochi is of any use, but the game handily allows the player to give less desirable pups to a loving family in the first town. In Metal Saga — Season of Steel, however, the breed occupies a dense sector of jungle known only as Dog Territory. These canines are mistrustful of their former masters, and only an act of kindness will get Pochi on the player's side this time. Metal Max 3 (and the remake of Metal Max 2) have multiple super-dogs available, adding Butch and Hachi (named for Japan's most famous fido) to the roster. — Michael Baker (Editor's note: Pochi image is credited to its rightful owner)

The Ultimate Dog

The story of Secret of Evermore begins when a boy's dog chases after a cat, leading the boy into a mysterious abandoned mansion. Shortly afterwards, the dog chews on some power cables that connect to a bizarre machine, which causes the machine to go berserk, transporting both the dog and his owner into a strange artificial world. The dog is the hero's only companion in the adventure that follows, and the hero is quite fortunate that he makes a very good ally indeed.

While the hero makes use of weapons like swords and axes, the dog makes do by fighting with his teeth and inbuilt artillery. Yes, that's right, inbuilt artillery. You see, the world the two have found themselves in is split into four regions, and the dog mysteriously transforms into a new shape for each of them. In the prehistoric region he looks like a large primeval beast that resembles a cross between a wolf and a bear, and later takes on a sleek greyhound-like form in the antiquity region and a pink poodle form in the medieval region. His final form, seen in the futuristic region, is a floating robot dog equipped with some kind of long-range gun and a back-mounted toaster. In all of these forms the dog is quite powerful, and because the player can take control of the dog directly and the game only ends if the boy is defeated, it is often advantageous to leave all of the hardest fighting in the dog's capable paws. The only thing the boy can do that the dog can't is alchemy, but even that relies on using the dog's keen sense of smell to track down vital alchemical ingredients. — Nathan Schlothan

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