In gaming, man’s best friend comes in many different forms. Our trusty animal companions guide us in our quests, protects us from enemies and provides transportation to far away lands. There is no doubt that they can make exploring the vast worlds a bit easier.
As a tribute to them, we look at 5 of the most beloved animal companions in gaming. Hopefully your favorite made the list!
The green dino has been alongside Mario since his debut in 1990’s Super Mario World. Anyone who has played it remembers the happiness when that little egg popped up from a question block and Yoshi made his appearance. He made you feel invincible, eating anything in his path and helping you reach higher areas.
The biggest problem was the genuine panic felt when the Yoshi ran off. The manic moments of chasing after him and the relief when you finally caught up and jumped back on. Or the guilt when he dropped off the edge into a hole. Bugger Mario’s brother, Yoshi is the true green friend to the red plumber.
Epona (The Legend of Zelda)
Yes, I’m writing about Zelda again, but stay with me. Link’s equine friend enters the Zelda saga at the Ocarina of Time stage. Being about to meet him when he’s younger, and then again when he’s matured, makes you feel a real connection. Even the song you learn to call Epona, gives you that warm feeling.
This new best friend appears in four later titles and has been as helpful in each one. Thankfully, Breath of the Wild will see Epona partner with Link once again. Surely it will be as epic as the other exploits.
Fallout players will have encountered this German Shepard twice. There’s no doubt that Dogmeat is one of the most useful animal companions of all time. He fights, he finds ammo and alerts his human to any threats in the Wasteland. If you were unfortunate enough for him to cross the Rainbow Bridge, you’d have felt a real sense of sadness, or just reloaded.
Fallout 4 brought Dogmeat back stronger and with added god mode. Scared by that the Deathclaw? Send Dogmeat in to soften him up! Also, how badass does he look with goggles and a bandanna on?
D-Dog (Metal Gear Solid)
In Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, which is set before 1, 2 and 4, but after 3 in the timeline….yes, that hurt my brain too…you find D-Dog as a little lost puppy and save him. Later, he becomes your greatest companion.
He can distract, kill or stun guards, as well as Fulton extract hostages and potential new recruits. He is the only companion in The Phantom Pain with any feelings for Snake. Quiet, or any other companion, simply mutters a word if you get killed. D-Dog, however, lets out a howl if you fall in combat. Now that’s man’s best friend!
Chocobo (Final Fantasy)
Since Final Fantasy II, these feathered friends have appeared in every game in some capacity or another. Prior to Final Fantasy VII, our avian friends were summoned to aid us in battle, with some being used as transportation.
FFVII, however, saw them being a very integral part of the game. The side quest to capture, raise, race and breed til you got the golden chocobo was a mission required for the best summon in the game. If you’re like me, you wouldn’t have considered this your first few playthroughs. But the draw of the Knights of the Round was just too much for some, so many hours went into this.
Further Final Fantasy’s kept chocobos as a method of transport, until Final Fantasy XV decided to get a car. Another animal’s job lost to a machine!
Your hunting companion in NES’ Duck Hunt does well at getting ducks in the air for you to shoot. He also does a good job in retrieving your well-aimed shots. However, when you miss….and you will, he pops up and laughs at you. I surely cannot be the only one who unloaded the clip in anger at the smirking little ball of pixelated fluff! I’m having rage flashbacks now just thinking about it!
Each companion has their own pros, but Yoshi tops the list for me. Let us know if you have any cool stories about animal companions in gaming. Maybe Dogmeat saved you…or chucked you under the hypothetical bus. Comment below or chat more on Twitter @Steelcityrocker.