[Review] nintendogs + cats
Those cute little mutts are back and this time, their wet noses are ready to pop out of the screen and greet you with love and slobber. Oh and apparently you can get cats in this game too…
Once you boot up the game for the first time, you’re taken straight to the kennels to pick your first dog. My choice of dogs were Shiba, Golden Retriever, Beagle, Miniature Pinscher, Miniature Dachshund, Maltese, Great Dane, Pug & Cocker Spaniel and each one of them looks just like the real thing. I decided to go with a Cocker because I own a Springer Spaniel myself which is the closest thing on here. Got the closest looking one and proceeded to take it’s furry butt home. Teaching it her name and first trick was quick and painless with the game recognising my odd voice rather well. You’re then pretty much left to do what you wish which can be a frightening thought for some people. But don’t worry, your pets will never die!
Most people will no doubt want to take their new pup out for a walk and those who have played the previous game will notice that this process has changed. Walks are done in a first person sort of view, touch screen controlling the lead whilst the top screen shows the actual environment. You’ll come across many things that your dogs will be curious about. Mostly good/harmless but some you have to avoid completely like trash left on the road. I have also noticed that all the dogs are walked on the road which is a bit odd but, no cars so it’s all good. There are lots of grass patches which your dog will INSIST to use, and most of the time it just does a little piddle to mark its territory. Or roll around in god knows what. You can make your dog eventually stop going to the bad things by tugging on the lead and giving it a treat. The main good thing is the presents in white boxes tied with red ribbons. These will start being absolute rubbish (which does actually come in handy later) but you will no doubt turn into decent gifts as your trainer points get higher.
You’ll also come across other dog owners who are represented by Miis. Some people might be slightly put off by this but I wasn’t bothered and actually found it to be ingenious once I found out that the people you encounter on StreetPass who also own this game will pop up on your walks! Of course, the meetings all come down to whether or not your dog and the other dog get along. Sometimes my Cocker seems to show no real interest but they get on really well anyway. And if the dogs really like each other and want to play, you get the chance to take them to a park and let them play for a while!
A new feature in the game allows you to take your dog for a walk via the pedometer. You simply select the option, close the lid when it prompts you to and go for a walk! Once you’re finished, your dog will find a present where the outcome depends on how many steps you took. These steps also contribute to getting the Play Coins on your 3DS console.
Special shops can be encountered along the walks, you can enter the gym to do some Lure Course training and you’ll also come across a beach and a park to let your dog run around freely and to give you more Disc Competition Training.
Speaking of Competitions, there are three in total; Disc Competition, Lure Coursing and Obedience Trial. The Disc Competition consists of throwing a frisbee and your dog catching it to score points and beat two other dogs. Simple. But, requires quite a bit of training (throwing, returning and getting the damn thing off the dog!). Lure Coursing is a race between three dogs to see who can run fastest, chasing a treat on the end of a string. This requires you to pull the string in by spinning the handle. There is also a squeak button just in case your dog starts to lose interest. And finally, Obedience Trial puts your dogs memory to the test to see if they can remember the tricks you have taught them. This, strangely enough, uses the AR cards that come with the 3DS system so you could embarrass your friends and pretend to have an obedience trial on the table in McDonalds. The difficulty rises for each rank of cup and the prize money starts to increase in value too so it’s definitely worth it in the end!
Now, personally, I’m not a huge fan of cats but I gave them a go in this game. I’m just gonna say, I’m so glad this game doesn’t auto-save. I got the thing home and instantly, it started hissing at my dog and proceeded to chase and scare it. After naming it, they started playing with each other. I then went and did something else. Came back and the cat was hissing at the dog again. I gave up on owning it and restarted the game so I got my money back! The Nintendogs + Cats website offers this description for cats:
“When kittens aren’t sharpening their claws, or clambering up the kitty tree house, they love to nap in cosy nooks and crannies, like bookshelves or window sills. Independently-minded, your cats will make themselves at home in your room.”
This just sums them up! All they do is sleep in the most stupidest of places and just come to you when they want feeding. You can’t teach them tricks, you can’t enter them in competitions and you can’t walk them! And considering you can only have three pets in the house at a time, why would you want a cat that either hisses at your dogs or sleeps?
Graphics & Sound
The graphics in the game are fantastic for a Nintendo handheld and are great, early signs for what the 3DS is capable of. The dogs all look the part and have no graphic tear whatsoever. Accessories fit the pets really well and the furniture looks great inside your spacious, dog living area. The use of the 3D in Nintendogs + cats is also superb and adds real depth to the graphics.
The depth of 3D that can be added to the game is rather large and there are times where I need to tone it down a bit because the paws of the dog really mess my eyes up. Rest of the time though, it’s fine and looks amazing at any level.
When it comes to sound, I will point one thing out. Get used to the barking. I love dogs too much to not be bothered by the outbursts but some people may find it a tad annoying after a while. The music in the game is very uplifting no matter where you take your dog and changes depending on the time of day whilst out for walks. Sounds used for objects like tennis balls are all spot on and the little noises like when you throw the frisbee add a nice effect.
In conclusion, this is a game full of features that should keep most people and dog lovers going for a while. Those who have played the previous Nintendogs games might lose interest a bit quicker than others but some of the newer features like StreetPass and being able to take 3D photos of your pets should keep them happy. I’ve only scraped the surface of the game myself and will no doubt find many new things myself!