Animal companions have long been a part of video games. In most games, you are a lone protagonist on your way to defeat evil. Occasionally, developers will give you an animal companion to add to your party. Usually, they are silent sidekicks, there to listen and obey your every command. Some are helpful and will help you find items or people. Others are nothing more than paperweights or completely hinder your gameplay.
Your companions are either there with you at the start or become an optional feature in the game. Either way, they became an important part of your arsenal. Animal companions add extra depth into the game, making you want to protect your friend at all costs. Developers pull at our heart strings when animals are involved. Even Nintendo was aware of our love of animals with Animal Crossing, where we were the only human surrounded by adorable creatures.
Animal companions in games range from realistic pets we might find in real life to more fantasy-like creatures. Though the realistic companions are typically silent beside from an animal noise, the more imaginative sidekicks may provide insight or advice on how to proceed in the game. Some animals are not sidekicks to humans, but other animals or even humanoid type creatures. No matter what type of creature it is, your sidekick is sure to make your journey more interesting.
Some companions have been more memorable as a partner, while others have been nothing but a thorn in our side. Be warned; this list contains some spoilers for video games with animal companions.
15 Best: Dogmeat (Fallout)
Dogmeat first appears in the first Fallout title but has continued to appear in the current games developed by Bethesda. With the change from isometric to third-person and first-person views in Fallout 3, we were able to interact with our furry companion more closely.
In Fallout 1 and 2, Dogmeat can be recruited, but is not as loyal. You first find Dogmeat in a junkyard in Fallout 3, avenging his previous owner. After recruiting him, he becomes a loyal pet, never leaving your side. Other humanoid companions may refuse to work with you if your Karma level falls too low. Whether you're playing as a Savior or not, Dogmeat will attack your enemies. He can also be used to collect supplies, such as weapons or food. Even after death, if you use the Puppies! Perk, Dogmeat's Puppies will continue to help you. Dogmeat remains a loyal companion on your path.
14 Worst: Sant' Angelo Di Roma (Final Fantasy VIII)
Sant' Angelo di Roma is Rinoa Heartilly's faithful canine companion in Final Fantasy VIII. Rinoa originally purchased Angelo when she was just a puppy from a pet shop. Angelo has been with Rinoa since she was young and makes it obvious, as Angelo is annoyingly possessive of her master. When plans are being formulated, Angelo gets upset when she isn't included. Angelo also whines and howls if Rinoa has to be separated from her pet. FFVIII is known as a love story, but Angelo ends up being the third wheel between Rinoa and Squall Leonhart.
Rinoa takes the blame for the lack of training, and eventually leaves Angelo behind a few times. Angelo can be taught new tricks with the Pet Pals magazine during battle, but, unfortunately, her attacks are more for comedic effect and are not effective. Angelo lacks both in story and in battle.
13 Best: Interceptor (Final Fantasy VI)
In Final Fantasy VI, you meet a mysterious ninja named Shadow. His loyal dog, Interceptor, is always by his side. He assists him in battle and is rumored to "eat strangers." Until you gain his loyalty, Interceptor dislikes almost everyone else, except for the young girl, Relm Arrowny, who he takes to quickly.
Shadow found out how loyal Interceptor was when attempting to leave him in Thamasa. The dog kept following him, even after being commanded to stay. Interceptor was ready to travel with Shadow to the end of the world. Though he is most loyal to his master, he was more than willing to protect those younger and weaker than he was. When your Final Fantasy party members were trapped in a blazing fire, Interceptor did his best to protect you and Relm. Interceptor will always do his best to protect Shadow, even if Shadow is unable to protect him in return.
12 Worst: Meeko (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)
Meeko is an optional non-humanoid follower in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. He can be found staying in a shack next to his dead owner. Meeko doesn't seem to be aware that his owner has passed away and stays by his side unless you request he follows you. Even then, if you tell him to wait, he always returns to the shack where his former owner remains.
Meeko gets in the way of the Dragonborn quite a bit. If you're playing the vanilla version of Skyrim, this means any attack has the potential to kill your canine companion for good. Meeko may block your character or another humanoid follower and get killed in friendly fire. When Meeko isn't getting in your way during battle, he also has the potential to activate traps. Of course, traps in a dungeon are likely to get you and anyone who is traveling with you killed. Meeko may be cute, but he is a hazardous addition to the Dragonborn's roster.
11 Best: Rush (Mega Man)
Rush first made his debut in Mega Man 3. As a robotic dog, he was able to assist his owner by turning into a spring coil, submarine, and a hoverboard. In the later additions of the series, he can connect directly to Mega Man and become Super Mega Man. Rush is not only useful in battle, but he can also be commanded to fetch items.
Rush is not only helpful to Mega Man during battle, but also in transit. Rush can transform into a motorcycle to bring Mega Man into new areas. In Mega Man 8, he gains the ability to heal with Rush Recharge. Mega Man's robotic companion not only appears in the main numbered titles, but he also appears in game crossovers. Rush is an extremely useful partner to Mega Man, making him not only a helpful battle partner but a loyal sidekick.
10 Worst: Dust (Darksiders II)
In the Darksiders series, Dust is Death's faithful crow. He can be summoned at any time and give hints on where to go. However, his appearance is almost useless. He gives directions by flying off "cawing." Death should be able to rely on his feathered companion for accurate directions. Instead, Dust's directions are often wrong. Players can save time by just following their map. Though Dust was marketed as a flying waypoint, he only gives hints for the main quest and not any side quests.
Another issue with Dust is that when he is off leading you in the wrong direction, he is hard to follow. He glows the same color as valuable collectibles on the map. You may think you are heading to your next battle, but you may be following the path of an item instead. In the end, you are better off trusting your instincts instead of your crow.
9 Best: Hewie (Haunting Ground)
In Haunting Ground, you don’t meet Hewie until Fiona Belli rescues him from captivity. After saving the dog, he will follow Fiona as she escapes from Belli Castle. Hewie is unique because, if you train him correctly, he will be loyal to Fiona until the end. Treat him unkindly or abuse him, and he may either attack Fiona or abandon her. Hewie's additionally important because Fiona cannot attack enemies, but only use her wits to escape from their grasp.
Though Fiona initially rescues Hewie, he becomes Fiona's savior. Hewie can search for danger around the immediate area. Hewie can also attack enemies by biting them, making him useful for protection. His biting movies can also increase in power, enabling Fiona to escape. Treating Hewie well will, in turn, treat Fiona well. He is a fiercely loyal protector who will ensure Fiona stays safe until the end and escape the dangers of Belli Castle.
8 Worst: Cait Sith (Final Fantasy VII)
Cait Sith is the remote controlled cat riding a large Moogle in Final Fantasy VII. He automatically joins your party and you have no choice. Even though he is a spy manufactured by Shinra Electric Power Company's Urban Development Department, he is not discreet and has a loud personality. The Cait Sith you know is only Reeve Tuesti, and he intends on being disloyal to Cloud Strife and his companions from the start. After revealing he's a traitor, he kidnaps Barrett's adoptive daughter, Marlene.
Cait Sith uses his megaphone to command his Moogle in battle. In battle, Cait Sith is a wild card. His attacks are similar to gambling. Win at slots and you can pull off a powerful attack. Lose and your entire party could wind up dead. His wild attacks are hard to predict, making him a very unhelpful party member. Combined with his traitorous personality, Cait Sith is a terrible traveling companion.
7 Best: Blade Wolf (Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance)
Blade Wolf first starts off as an enemy to Raiden in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Designed with a canine appearance, he was created solely for combat. He was not instantly loyal and was able to think for himself and speak. At first, he worked with the Winds of Destruction, but Blade Wolf was intelligent and questioned the group's motives. He eventually met Raiden and, after his defeat, decided to join him in battle.
Blade Wolf becomes a helpful asset to Raiden. He can scout the area and assist Raiden in battle. Blade Wolf is incredibly helpful with his arsenal of metal teeth, sharp claws, and saw-like tail. If needed, he will assess the current objective and give advice. After helping Raiden, Blade Wolf befriends Sunny and assists her. Blade Wolf's loyalty is earned and not immediately gained, making him a unique and loyal companion.
6 Worst: Tails (Sonic The Hedgehog)
Miles "Tails" Prower is first introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. He continues to be part of Sonic's growing crew. Though he can use his tails to fly, he often becomes a nuisance rather than an asset. In a series where going fast is important, Tails is much slower.
If playing co-op with a friend in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Tails' slow movement becomes an issue when Sonic is racing through the stage and Tails is struggling to keep up. Tails was important to lift Sonic over spikes, but one wrong move could cost you all your rings or a life. If you were unfortunate to have AI-controlled Tails tag along, the game became even more frustrating as Tails bumbled around.
Tails may be an adorable, intelligent fox, but he is nothing but a hindrance in the fight against Dr. Robotnik.
5 Best: Sif (Dark Souls)
Great Grey Wolf Sif is a mandatory, yet, unfortunate boss fight in Dark Souls. When you first enter her forest, you may be tempted to grab the giant sword. Sif will quickly stop you from stealing the sword of her master, Knight Astorias.
In the optional Prepare to Die DLC content, you learn about why Sif wanted to protect that sword so badly. Sif and Astorias both treasured each other. They traveled into the Abyss together, yet faced a grave defeat. To save Sif, Astorias sacrificed his humanity to shield her from corruption. If you save Sif, she will join you in the fight against Manus, the battle she and Astorias were unable to win.
Though you can save Sif in the past, she remains incredibly loyal to Astorias. Even after losing him, she is willing to fight you, another friend, to the death to protect her master's sword.
4 Worst: Morgana (Persona 5)
Morgana is your black and white feline companion in Persona 5. Even though he is a cat, he wants everyone to know he is no ordinary feline. He likes to make commands and often interjects in every conversation. Morgana is also controlling of the decisions you make. If you want to go out at night, Morgana will repeatedly instruct you that you have to go to sleep. In a game where there are several social link activities and personality traits to increase, being commanded around by a cat can quickly become annoying.
Physically, Morana is obviously a cat, which makes his crush with "Lady Ann" somewhat creepy. He gets upset if you decide to romantically pursue her, even though she makes it clear she doesn't take Morgana's advances seriously. Morgana's fighting ability may be useful, but, otherwise, he is an irritating party member outside of battle.
3 Best: Yoshi (Mario)
Yoshi first appeared in Super Mario World. Though he is a silent companion in the early games, he becomes a lively character full of personality in later games, such as Super Mario Galaxy 2. After you rescue Yoshi from an egg, he is thankful for your assistance. You can ride on his back to jump to new locations and he can eat enemies with his long tongue. Not only is Yoshi convenient to ride on, but he also gains the ability to fly and stomp, making him a powerful ally in battle.
Even though Mario first rescued Yoshi, his reptile friend is also more than willing to assist the Mario brothers. In Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Yoshi protects Baby Mario on his quest to rescue Baby Luigi. He protects the children, allowing the stork to transport them home. Yoshi may have evolved into his main character role, but he continues to be one of the Mario Brothers' most loyal companions.
2 Worst: Dog (Duck Hunt)
Dog made his debut in Nintendo’s Duck Hunt in 1985. Duck Hunt itself is cruel because its sole focus is to kill ducks as they try to fly away. However, Dog was unusually cruel. Hunting dogs are known for being loyal companions, but Dog is unique. If you missed a duck, Dog would pop up from the grass and have a giggle at your expensive. You may have been motivated to shoot better or just felt annoyed.
Dog's primary task is to retrieve the ducks you have shot. He's happy when he gets to retrieve the dead duck bodies. Otherwise, he is a terrible companion. As the game continues and your shooting ability fades, Dog's laughing may seem cruel and unusual. He's not your cheerleader and will not support you. Dog's only role, outside of retrieving ducks, is to mock you.
1 Best: Pikachu (Pokémon)
Pikachu is well-known as Ash Ketchum's loyal companion in the Pokémon anime. Not only has the yellow Electric-type Pokémon gained popularity in the anime, but he has also become the franchise's mascot. He has remained an important part of Pokémon. Pikachu is not only Ash's loyal companion but all fans of the series.
Pikachu appeared in Pokémon Yellow as the only available starter Pokémon. Pikachu had more of a unique personality and voice than other Pokémon you encountered. Pikachu would follow the main character around and would learn to love or hate you. If properly trained, Pikachu could learn special moves, and become more powerful in battle.
For decades, Pikachu has not only been loyal in the Pokémon anime but also in spin-offs. In games such as the Nintendo 64's Hey You, Pikachu!, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, and the upcoming Great Detective Pikachu, you will find Pikachu to be a devoted friend and battle partner.