Those puppy dog eyes? That unconditional bond? Yes, it’s easy to see why man’s best friend has been capturing hearts across the globe since time immemorial. On screen, canine entertainers really hit the big time in films like Rin Tin Tin, The Wizard of Oz and Lassie. The Baha Men even dedicated a whole song to dogs. Well, sort of. Dogs have been featured in videogames quite heavily, too; if you grew up gaming in the 1980s, the words ‘Duck Hunt’ should be more than enough to get your memory going. What about games that let you play as a dog, I hear you ask? Well, here’s seven games we prepared earlier—but as always, let us know if we’ve missed any good ones.
1. Sam & Max Hit the Road
It’s no secret that LucasArts dominated the adventure game scene in the nineties, and Sam & Max Hit the Road is just one shining example of that legacy. In it, players control private detectives Sam (voiced by Bill Farmer) and Max, who sift through puzzles and zany cartoon environments. Sam & Max Hit the Road originally released in 1993, but in 2005 the LucasArts license expired and was passed onto Telltale Games, who brought us a new episodic series that went for a 3D look like Grim Fandango.
Montaro is what happens when anime, internet memes and 2D platformers get thrown into a giant moshpit all at once. It’s crazy, but I daresay the popularity of the Doge meme secured the game’s success. Since Montaro’s launch last July, it’s amassed over 6,000 reviews on Steam to achieve an overwhelmingly positive badge of honour. The game itself lets players explore randomly generated streets, collect ‘Doge coins’ and perform a few somersaults along the way.
Post-apocalyptic settings have become a lot more mainstream these days, but it’s not often you’ve got a dog protagonist at the helm. Enter Buck, a motorbike mechanic who gives up everything to solve the mysterious disappearance of a young girl. The gritty aesthetic (very reminiscent of Guns, Gore & Cannoli) gives BUCK a really harsh, unforgiving vibe that comes through a cast of remorseless characters and a crafting system that relies on scraps and loot. Are you ready to take on the sands of Venganza?
Coming out for the Nintendo DS in 2005, Nintendogs went on to claim the silver medal for best-selling DS game ever. The pet simulator let players train, wash and play with a virtual dog through the use of the new stylus technology, and boy was it adorable. For kids, it was basically the new Tamagotchi, in colour. Six years later, a sequel (Nintendogs + Cats) released on 3DS, offering softer, more expressive 3D visuals and facial recognition technology for more realistic interactions with your puppy.
5. PaRappa the Rapper
If there’s one game that just screams weird, it’s PaRappa the Rapper. Don’t ask us how, but the rhythm-based adventure starring a beanie-clad canine rapper became a cult sensation, challenging players with six levels of rap battles that demanded some pretty decent hand-eye coordination. Despite its sometimes cheesy lyrics, PaRappa’s charm is held up by hilarious characters, which include a moose driving instructor and a paper-thin onion man. PaRappa the Rapper was re-released earlier this year for PlayStation 4 as a remastered title.
6. Dog’s Life
Dog’s Life is an action-adventure game for PlayStation 2 with some very interesting mechanics. It tells the story of Jake, a dog who gets himself entangled in a centre of a wicked plot in order to save the gal he loves. Players venture through three main areas, engaging in various missions to get rewards (bones), and using ‘Smellovision’ to pick up latent scents and activate challenges against local dogs.
7. Home Free
Described as open-world action-RPG starring a low-poly pooch, Home Free is as liberating as you can get. You play as a dog (players will be able to select from more than a dozen breeds) searching for its place in the world. Your choices have an impact on the story, whether you decide to steal food from inattentive humans or play it safe by earning treats for entertaining instead. Let’s just hope Cruella de Vil doesn’t randomly appear when you’re cruising the streets.
Bonus mention: Technically you can play as Franklin’s dog (Chop) in Grand Theft Auto V, but only via a mod. Maybe Chop will be a proper playable character in GTA6 if we ask Rockstar politely enough…
Other lists in our 7 Games series:
- 7 Games That Let You Play as a Cat
- 7 Games That Let You Play as a Fox
- 7 Games That Let You Play as a Mouse