Ok, we’re going to be straight with you from square one, Nintendogs, when it all comes down to it, is a Pet Simulator. It doesn’t contain a vast array of weaponry, fast vehicles, zombies or any real violence of any kind. If you’re one of those people who can’t play a game without any of the above factors, stop reading this, and move on to the next review. If, however, the lack of the above doesn’t really bother you then read on. Because, what Nintendogs DOES contain is a fun and somewhat addictive little ‘game’.
The gameplay factor of Nintendogs is a hard one to judge. Basically, if you love dogs, you’ll probably love this game. All of the most appealing factors of owning a dog are included here, from petting and stroking, to teaching it tricks, taking it for a walk and playing in the park. The game really makes use of the DS’s microphone and touch screen, as they are the only real method of control in the game. You use the microphone to teach your dog his name and tricks and call him to your side. Everything else, from feeding to plotting the route for your walk is done with the touch screen. Nintendo have taken the liberty of removing some of the more stressful factors of owning a dog, such as illness and death, leaving you with just the perks of owning real dog. The game also contains three contests, the Frisbee, Obedience, and Agility contests. These are all pretty fun, and break up the game a little. Where the gameplay may fall short for some the fact it is played out in real time enhances it.
This won’t be a problem for busy people, as they’ll probably only play the game for short spurts of 20-30 minutes, but for people longing for a game to play for hours on end, you may have to look elsewhere, as you can only walk your dog every 30 minutes and only take part in three contests per day. This becomes less of a problem when you buy another dog (you can keep a maximum of three in your house), as you can then take part in more contests and go on walks more frequently. We didn’t really find this aspect of the game a problem, but some people will.
There’s also a Wi-Fi mode, known as “Bark Mode” featured in the game, where your dog can pick up on other DS’s with Bark mode enabled, allowing you and your friend’s dogs to play together. That’s all well and good in Japan, where everyone and their mother owns a copy, but in Europe and even America, meeting someone with another DS, never mind Nintendogs, is a pretty rare event.
As far as the actual dogs go, you can tell that Nintendo have put a lot of effort into the research towards this game, as all of the different breeds of dog move, act and look exactly like their real-life counterparts. Each dog has their own personality, varying the way they act, look and respond to different toys. You can mould their personality by how you treat them, as well as how well they get on with the other dogs you meet on walks. You can also find toys, accessories and other items when walking; we were astounded to find that Nintendo have somehow made the dogs look reasonably good with hats or clothing on, something that we’ve never seen replicated in real life. Let’s face it, that little Chihuahua down the road that wears a sweater looks no where near as good as our Nintendog with a Mario cap on. Fact.
The sound on this game can be both endearing and annoying. You may swoon over your dog’s ‘cute’ barking at first, but after a while you may find yourself reaching for the volume slider in irritation. The music that is played in contests and between-scene transitions are the regular happy and jolly tunes you come to expect from Nintendo.
It’s hard to give Nintendogs a rating. It’s really up to whether you ‘dig’ quirky simulation titles such as these or if you prefer to cram your shelves full of adrenalin pumped games published by EA. If you’ve read this far into the review however, I’m going to assume you enjoy the type of quirky game Nintendo tend to pump out nowadays.
– The Dogs look about as close to a puppy as you can get
– Anything that you’d ever want to do with a dog (that’s legal, of course) is probably featured in this game somewhere.
– If you love puppies, you’ll love this game.
– Fun mini games, and lots to collect.
– Some people may get put off by the fact that you can only play in short spurts.
– There's not a great deal to do, after a while it's just more of the same.
– Bark Mode is kind of a lost cause.
Final Rating: 5/10