|System: Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 6, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
May 22, 2007 - Everyone loves dogs, unless you are a cat person and you do not, but everyone else does. Now, for the dog lovers out there - how many times have you wanted your very own puppy? A puppy that would grow into a giant "horse" or stay the same size throughout their lives. Well, for the past few years Nintendo has been feeding the need of dog lovers on the DS. Soon, those dog lovers that happen to be Wii owners will receive another opportunity to acquire and build upon their canine love. However, this time around it will not be Nintendo providing the woofs and growls. Instead, the fine folks at Ubisoft and Yuke's Media Creations are bringing The Dog Island to us, and oh, how things will be different.
For starters, the DS mega hits are about the nurturing, care, and overall intertwining love one has when you have man's best friend as a pet. With The Dog Island, you will be a member of the canine persuasion, and so will everyone else in the game. The other stark obvious difference between the two titles is that Dog Island is technically a simulation game. In fact, it is designed as an RPG. So, unfortunately, no getting your puppy to roll over in order to scratch its belly with the Wii-mote.
However, I feel I must say that there will be not actual battles like an RPG. Granted, watching a poodle strike a victorious pose with a giant sword after a battle could be hilarious and rewarding, but it would quickly lose the meaning behind the game. While ragingly heated battles amongst mutts will not be present in the game, there will be other RPG elements present in the game. A progressive storyline and an expansive world to make RPGers excited are just the beginning. While these elements can easily, and have been, incorporated into the other genres of gaming, the necessity of talking to every inhabitant of a town is something that the RPG can boast all on its own. Need further proof? There will even be a synthesizing system involved with the game, though currently there has not been a full disclosure on what this will be.
Still worried about the "no battles" thing? Do not be. There will of course be enemies - like Gorillas, Wild Boars, and Snakes, but these enemies will usually not attack you directly. Instead, if you get within their vision range they will become aware of you and give a little chase, but mostly that is all. In fact, the sheer looks from your enemies will be enough for you to lose life if you are close enough. This, of course, is where your one offensive attack that you posses comes in handy. Using your dog's stealth prowess will enable you to sneak up behind your enemies. Once there you will be able to deliver a varied bark to daze the enemy. Depending on the sheer force of the bark will determine how long the enemy stays dazed. This mechanic will provide you with more maneuverability while performing what appears to be the focus of the game: collecting stuff. To be more accurate on what it is that you are collecting, sniffs will be the focus of your dog's adventures. In every area, you will have the opportunity to obtain a new sniff, and once obtained, you will always have it in your collection. This becomes specifically handy when looking for an item. Another advantage to gaining new sniffs is that you will move up in rank according to the amount of sniffs you have. Equally as important, you will also gain new health containers as you progress through the game. This way you can last a little longer feeling the cold stares of your enemies.
There will also be a few mini-games to volley through with your tale wagging. The mini-games listed so far are - fishing, insect gathering, soccer, and, of course, races. What would an RPG with dogs be without those kinds of mini-games? Especially, the fishing mini-game, which, based on a few of the videos, looks adorable on a level that should not be allowed in games, which will be apparent, if in no other way, in how cute the dogs are. So cute, in fact, that you might be urged to visit your local humane society to adopt a few friends to bring home.
While The Dog Island may not be a dog simulation, which is what we would have thought Nintendo's first pooch outing to be, it is definitely shaping up to be an enjoyable title for everyone. Parents just need to be ready to run out and buy the next best friend. We will have more info as we get closer to a release date announcement.
CCC Project Coordinator