Every dog has his day...
And today is that day for one video game dog (or wolf).
This year, we've embarked on a quest to find the Greatest Animal in the History of Video Games. First, we had judges choose the best horse.
And now, our fine panel has chosen the Greatest Canine in Video Games from a list of nominees that we listed last month (along with readers' suggestions).
This time around, our judges panel included:
- Brian Crecente, managing editor of Kotaku
- Tofuburger, co-founder of cultural phenomenon/funny animal picture blog I Can Has Cheezburger
- Evan Wells, co-president of Naughty Dog, the makers of "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune" and the "Jak and Daxter" series
We've weighted each judge's top three picks, and the winner is...
PaRappa the Rapper, who topped the list for three out of our four judges. Meanwhile, Brown from "Rule of Rose" took second place, and the undead dogs from "Resident Evil" were third place.
And the Readers' Choice winner: a four-way tie, with readers giving props to K.K. Slider from "Animal Crossing," Amaterasu from "Okami," the "Duck Hunt" dog and Sam from "Sam & Max."
Do the judges know what they're talking about? Read on for the judges' individual choices and reasoning. First up, Evan Wells of Naughty Dog...
Evan Wells, Naughty Dog:
#3 - Zombie Dogs from "Resident Evil": These guys earn my third spot for the simple fact that for the first time ever in a video game, they scared the s--t out of me! When that first dog jumps through the window in the hallway, I literally jumped out of my seat. It was truly a landmark in gaming to achieve that emotional response.
#2 - Yamoto from "Shadow Dancer": "Shadow Dancer" was the spiritual successor to the classic "Shinobi," and I thought the inclusion of Yamoto was a great evolution of the gameplay. Not only did it expand your move set, but it gave you another character to create an emotional bond with. When one of the enemies attacked your dog, the satisfaction of seeking revenge was second to none.
#1 - PaRappa the Rapper: PaRappa easily earns the top spot on my list of greatest video game dogs. He introduced the world to the rhythm-action genre and most importantly taught us all an important lesson: "You gotta believe!"
Brian Crecente, Kotaku:
Boy this is a hard one.
3. Like most gamers, I have fond memories of the dog in "Duck Hunt." The art style and attitude always reminded me of those classic 1940s Fred Avery cartoons. Sure, I wanted to shoot him... a lot, but I never did. I tried, but I never did.
2. My first real scare in a video game came at me in the form of zombie dogs [from "Resident Evil"]. Not just zombie dogs, but Doberman Pincher zombie dogs. That one scene, where the dog jumps through the window, you know what I'm talking about, it scared the crap out of me... and I was in my mid 20's. It made such a lasting impression that when I first met my wife, nearly a decade later, and saw she had a pet Doberman, I half went for my non-existent Colt Python.
1. The most memorable, most personable video game canine in gaming history has got to be PaRappa the Rapper. PaRappa's indefatigable persistence in the face of all odds is as inspiring as his love for Sunny Funny. You gotta believe!
Leigh Alexander, Sexy Videogameland:
3. The "Harvest Moon" dog. Not just in "64," but in every other one, he's the only thing in the entire "Harvest Moon" world that you don't have to work your hands to the bone, save up huge amounts of money, give thousands of minor presents, or wait seasons for. Even when your house is nothing but a matchstick shack, your field a broken plain littered with rubbish, your puppy will come when you whistle. With a big heart in a bubble over his head. Awww.
2. The "Resident Evil" dogs are okay, but I'm going to write one in here -- the split-headed hounds from "Silent Hill 3." At the time that game came out, I'd never seen monster design that was so creepy. And if this were my column, I'd now pontificate about how they represent the split nature of the protagonist, held together with bloody bandages just like a juvenile Alessa, but I'll spare you all.
1. Brown. He may only be good at finding pointless candy, but Jennifer's Brown [from "Rule of Rose"] is ultimately a centerpiece in probably one of the eeriest survival-horror storylines of all time (let's forget about the gameplay). He and Hewie [from "Haunting Ground"] both escort vulnerable and tremulous little blondes through odious circumstances, but Hewie is chronically disobedient and prone to wandering off. Between the two, Stray Dog will have his peas.
Tofuburger, I Can Has Cheezburger:
3. Amaterasu in "Okami" - Okay, in "Okami" you play as a Sun Goddess who takes the form of a reincarnated white wolf. So technically, you're a God Dog, which is pretty awesome by itself, but then you also get to save the world from evil spirits with a --wait for it-- celestial paintbrush. You can keep your Nintendogs, we like our canines as artists-slash-deities.
2. K.K. Slider in "Animal Crossing" - This beatnik puppy is the ultimate enemy of the RIAA, and we love him. In our college days, we at Cheezburger HQ chose to spend many a Saturday night at home, turning down exciting social lives, just so we wouldn't miss our weekly chance to rock out with The Slider. Plus, we'd always score one of his sweet bootlegs. Keep it free, K.K.!
1. PaRappa the Rapper - "I wanna see if you wanna see what it takes to be the man with the master plan, are you the man now?" Well, we aren't, but no one can say that PaRappa isn't the best rapping dog since Itchy and Scratchy's Poochie. Why can't there be a sequel of PaRappa using all of the "Rock Band" instruments? Well, because it would be so awesome, we'd cry tears of joy like someone had just chopped up Chop Chops's onion head. ICHC says: SEEKWIL FTW!!!!
Multiplayer readers, there are your winners. They will face off against our already-named top horses and the rest of the 2008 animal picks at year's end.
Our year-long quest to name the Greatest Animal In Video Game History will continue all March as we apply this complex process to the great creatures of the sea.