Dead to Rights: Retribution
Retribution is a reboot of the Dead to Rights series, featuring Jack Slate, a Grant City police officer, and his loyal canine named Shadow. Most of the game you play as Jack of course, with Shadow loyally following along and savaging any bad guy that dares to step near you. There are sections of the game, however, where you have to sneak around as Shadow himself, evading as many enemies as you can and completely annihilating others.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Link has had quite a few iterations over the years, but Twilight Princess gave us the most adorable one yet with wolf link. Most of the game is played as human Link, but there are quite a few sections where you have to paw around as Wolf Link, battling enemies, digging holes, and terrifying innocent townspeople. To make things even better, you’re impish companion Midna rides around on Link’s back while he’s in wolf form.
Bolt is a video game spinoff of a Disney animated movie, and although you don’t get to exclusively play as a dog, you get to control the super-powered pooch of the same name at various points. There are quite a few different versions of the game on everything from the Wii and DS, to the PlayStation 2 and mobile. Whichever version you play though, you always get to directly control Bolt and use his assortment of crazy powers like Super Speed, Super Bark, and Super Bite.
Amaterasu, the main character of Okami, is technically a Shinto sun goddess, but she does take the form of a white wolf in the game. It combines several myths and legends about how Amaterasu saved the land from darkness, and has a gorgeous cel-shaded art style with tons of Japanese influences. Running around as Amaterasu is as fluid and fun as you’d expect controlling a wolf to be, and there’s also a big gameplay element involving calligraphy. A direct sequel to the game, called Okamiden, has you taking control of a cute celestial wolf born from Amaterasu, this time named Chibiterasu. Adorable.
Dog’s Life is a game about exactly what it sounds like, living the life of a cuddly dog, or in this case a somewhat lumpy looking animated one. You take the role of a mutt named Jake, who one day sees dogcatchers taking away a Labrador Retriever named Daisy that he has a crush on. Jake resolves himself to save her, and he follows the dogcatchers from a rural town called Clarksville, to a mountaintop resort, and finally a huge city.
As you explore the world controlling Jake, you can dig up bones as collectibles and interact with chickens, kittens and other characters. You even square off against other dogs at some points. If you want to be put in the shoes, or paws, of a dog this might be the game for you.
Tales of Vesperia
Tales of Vesperia is a tried and true JRPG, with a lengthy hundred hour story and intense action-based combat system. Yuri Lowell, the game’s protagonist, is joined by one tough pooch right from the get go. Repede is one of the main party members of the game, and is basically by Yuri’s side the entire time. If you’re so inclined to do so, you can choose to play as Repede in battle for most of the game, with a few story exceptions. He’s a close combat character with some devastating special attacks to take down enemies.
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Ghost Trick is a predictably strange game from the makers of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series. This mystery puzzle game casts you as the ghost of a man named Sissel as he tries to discover who he was and what killed him. While most of the game is played as Sissel, later on you also have the chance to switch to the spirit of a small Pomeranian named Missile. The pup comes with his own unique abilities, and even some ridiculous dialogue.
The Dog Island
You can’t get any more disgustingly cute than The Dog Island, a Wii game all about living life on an island filled with adorable dogs with large heads. There’s surprisingly a bit of story behind the game, however. It starts in the town of Puroro, where your character’s sibling (who has an illness) gets incredibly sick during a festival. From there, your character boards a pirate ship in search of Dog Island, where a doctor resides who might be able to cure your sibling’s illness. Yeahhhhh, that’s some serious stuff for such a cute game. There’s plenty of gameplay here too, even if not all of it might be great, as you run around the island accepting quests and finding items.
Tokyo Jungle is a ridiculous idea that works surprisingly well, set in a futuristic and deserted Tokyo. You take control of various different animals, and work to survive in this new, harsh wilderness. The story mode of the game has you undertaking various quests centered around specific animals, including a Pomeranian and a Beagle. You’ll combat other animals along the way, search for food, and eventually uncover the secret behind mankind’s disappearance. It’s a crazy game, that puts a big spotlight on some small dogs.
PaRappa the Rapper
Alright, so PaRappa isn’t strictly a regular pooch, but he is a hip talking dog that can rap better than almost any human. This colorful rhythm game has you playing through different songs, and tapping the correct buttons to have PaRappa sing lyrics along with the beat. He raps about having to use the bathroom, he raps about driving a car, he raps about making burgers, and much more. It’s a fun and weird game, where somehow a rapping dog is the least strange thing.