So Cute You’ll Go Into Sugar Shock
Nintendogs + Cats is nearly identical to its DS predecessor, Nintendogs. Other than the inclusion of felines, the gameplay is almost exactly the same, and if you were expecting dogs on rocket ships or some other huge game-changing feature, you’ll be disappointed with this new offering. However, if you love the pet sim genre, and are ready to dive back into the virtual kennel of Nintendogs, you’ll find a streamlined experience that captures the cutesy essence of its predecessor, while adding a few extra perks along the way. Though these perks aren’t huge improvements to the series, they are enough to lure in eager 3DS owners, and anyone who has ever had a soft spot for all things cute and cuddly.
The game opens at a local kennel, where you can pick your new puppy from one of several “starter” breeds. These starter breeds will vary depending on what title you pick up, but once you complete several challenges and successfully raise several pups, you’ll gain access to all 20+ breeds offered in the game. As I was playing the French Bulldog and New Friends version of the game, I decided to grab a Shetland Sheepdog, which is exclusive to that version as a starter. When you select a dog, a short blurb will appear, telling you the pup’s gender, as well as their overall temperament. The temperament is especially important to note when selecting a dog, as excitable puppies will be easier to train, but hard to go on walks with, and conversely, easygoing pups will be friendly with dogs on walks, but require extra motivation to train.
Once you get your doggie home, the work begins. You’ll need to teach the puppy its name first using the 3DS’ microphone, and then you can move on to teaching it simple commands that have both vocal and gesture-based components. Dogs can learn a fixed number of tricks, and the interface is extremely simple to learn, making Nintendogs an easy choice for younger 3DS owners.
As you teach your dog tricks and take them on walks, you’ll unlock new areas and gain the ability to compete in competitions with your dog. These competitions include obedience trials, flying disc catching, and lure races. You’ll have to practice with your puppy quite a lot to get good marks in these events, and performing well is essential if you want to earn money to buy supplies and new pets.
Earning enough money for a cat was definitely high on my priorities list, and I was somewhat disappointed initially that I could not get a cat before a dog. However, once I was able to adopt a cat, I understood the reasoning behind this decision: cats are not very interesting pets. They don’t do tricks, they can’t compete in competitions, and aside from hopping up on furniture and interacting with other pets, cats are more like the screensaver of the Nintendogs world. It can be a little disheartening if you consider yourself a “cat” person, but realistically, I suppose I couldn’t expect anything else. The real novelty from having a cat in your home is seeing it interact with your other pets, and occasionally petting it and hearing it purr. But if your only goal in Nintendogs is to have a pride of kitties, you’ll find the game experience boring.
When Nintendogs was released it became a showpiece for the original Nintendo DS’ touch screen technology. Nintendogs + Cats takes a similar approach to the 3DS new features, and incorporates them all subtly into the everyday functions of the game. Walks can now be completed with the pedometer (instead of just by dragging a leash), pictures can be taken using the AR cards (which place your pets adorably within your own space), and of course, the 3D visuals add a sense of depth to the game. Looking at your puppies and kitties in 3D is actually the best feature of the game, and if watching a cute little French Bulldog run up to you doesn’t sell you on 3D, I don’t think anything will.
Though the game’s 3D effects can be a tad gimmicky at times, Nintendogs does look good. Animal models are true to the individual breed, and animations are unique to each breed’s reputation and personality. You won’t see a Shetland Sheepdog strut around like you would expect a German Shepherd to, and you’ll never see repetitive animations between breeds, which will make dog lovers happy, and make the game feel a lot more immersive.
The game also takes advantage of the new StreetPass passive multiplayer feature, and if you walk by another 3DS owner who is playing Nintendogs, your 3DS will automatically receive and transmit gifts between your two dogs. Dogs you “meet” via the StreetPass system will also show up periodically when you are in the in-game walking mode (versus the pedometer walking mode) and after awhile you may have quite the local kennel club family in your virtual backyard.
Nintendogs + Cats is a very familiar game. If you’ve played Nintendogs, then you should not expect anything different. Though the inclusion of cats certainly makes the game a little bit more interesting, the cats don’t serve much of a purpose within the game, and other than tossing some string at them every once and awhile, your virtual kitties will probably take a backseat to the dogs. However, if you loved Nintendogs originally and want to check out even more breeds (and immerse yourself with some truly sweet 3D visuals), you can’t beat this title. Just don’t set your expectations too high. After all, this is still only a pet simulator. It just so happens to be a ridiculously cute one.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.3 Graphics
Puppies and kitties look soft, fluffy, and cuddly. Animations are expertly done and unique to each breed. 4.0 Control
Point and click controls are intuitive and easy to use. 3.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Animal sound effects are well done. Background music is satisfactory. 3.6 Play Value
Like all pet sims, what you get out of this game depends on what you want from it. If you want to raise all the breeds and compete in all the events, this will be a lengthy game. If you just want to raise one pet, don’t expect to play it for more than two weeks. 3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best