Ah, I remember Nintendogs. Sadly, I never was fully dedicated to the first game myself, up until buying its 3DS remake/sequel.
Maybe I was too busy at the time slicing demons in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow to care about what to do if your virtual dog poops on the street. So instead, I turned to one of the more avid pet lover friends (who is also a hardcore gamer, I might add) to assist me on the contents on the Original DS Nintendogs game in order to review the changes between systems. Thanks a bunch, Gale!
But strangely enough, I ended up picking Nintendogs + Cats as my first 3DS game. It was the Toy Poodle and New Friends version (and about later that very night, I got Samurai Warriors Chronicles.) My sisters loved it to the core, since the entire family is into dogs.
But enough of my personal bibliography and letâ€™s start reviewing.
Like the DS-revolutionary Nintendogs, Nintendogs + Cats is one of the earliest games to ever pop out of the still fresh and new 3DS console. It has three versions based on one of the default breeds the player chooses at the start of the game: Toy Poodle, French Bulldog, and Golden Retriever (Shiba Inu in the Japanese version). As always, you adopt your first dog and train, feed, nurture, play, walk, and love it like your own real living pet.[singlepic id=2128 w= h= float=center]
Prepare to be mind controlled with cute, adorable, puppies!
But since itâ€™s the 3DS version of the game, you get kittens! Everyone loves kittens!
Instead of directly contacting the pets through stylus, you instead contact them through a silhouette of them on the touch screen, while a magic hand or floating leash is doing the contact touching/controlling for you. I know it’s to generate the 3D feel of the pets in the upper screen, but it seems a bit strange at times that the dog is merely controlled by an invisible human rather than you know, your Mii.[singlepic id=2129 w= h= float=center]
It brings new and awkward levels to the term “Ghost Owner.”
Once the pet has opened up to you through continuous stroking and petting, you will then give your pet a name. Like the DS, you have to name your pet through talking to a microphone and hope your dog will respond. Do the same thing about three times in a row and the pet will respond to that name. Then you teach the dog tricks.
You teach tricks by controlling and stroking parts of the dogâ€™s body, and when he does do the trick required, you use your microphone (again) and say your command in order for the dog to understand and perform it. Sadly, you can only teach three different tricks thrice a day.[singlepic id=2127 w= h= float=center]
Likes its predecessor, tricks can be taught with the move of your stylus and your voice.
Also, the existence of Trainer Points (Now called â€œOwner Pointsâ€) increase whenever you play, feed, or even stroke your pets in places they love to be touched. It do depends on how well you treat your dog, determined by the color of sparkles omitted by the pet itself (from simple green cloverish sparkles to epic yellow flower sparkles.) The more points the owner has overall, the more items and breeds are unlocked in stores.
Stores are technically used to buy the petsâ€™ essentials. There is a pet supply store, a pet accessory store, an interior design store (to get furniture for your pet cat or redecorate your room into something Japanese, Futuristic, and even a Mario Theme!), a store to sell or recycle items, a Kennel for buying more pets, and a hotel to drop off, retrieve and donate unused pets. In order to get money to buy supplies, you must win in competitions, sell very fancy items or get piggy backs on walksâ€¦ and smash them later at home.
There are three Competitions and about 6 levels each depending on the competition: Flying Disc, Lure Competition and Obedience Trials. The aim of the competitions is to win first place in order to elevate to the next round. When you finally get to first place to in the elusive Nintendogs Cup for the first time, you win a special accessory. In order to be first, you must train him on gyms and open areas while going on walks, or teach him tricks regularly with your usual voice commands.
Throughout my 15 (or more) hours of the game, here are my impressions of the good and the bad:
THE BAD STUFF:
1. Cats are not important. Move along.
As much as this is Nintendogs + Cats, the â€œCatsâ€ part of the game plays more like a silent sidekick role than a main protagonist. They cannot go on walks, perform tricks and learn them, nor even join in competitions. Instead, they serve as lonely delivery boys who enjoy climbing on really tall furniture. Their choices of breeds arenâ€™t even plentiful, as so far you can only get about 3 species of cats, while dogs start off with three breeds… and counting.
They still do enjoy feeding, getting brushed and petted, playing with toys, and bathe them (aside from the fact that cats hate water) yet aside from all of those little regular things I can do if I ever have a cat (the lack of litter boxes made this game a bit more convenient though), I did not feel satisfied with owning a cat besides getting free items once in a while (which I never really got throughout the course of the game) and me being a secret cat lover.
Also, it costs a lot to get a cat in this game, raging from 800 to about 1300 dollars.[singlepic id=2134 w= h= float=center]
Yes, I spent 900 dollars on a kitten that does nothing more than act cute. It worked.
2. ThereÂ isn’tÂ anything new or groundbreaking that makes this game different from its predecessor â€¦ apart from a few improvements and replacements.
Apart from the existence of cats, better graphics, extensive use of 3DSâ€™ built-in features and the Lure Coursing Competition being a slightly watered down version of Agility Trials, the entire game is still like the original DS game. You still go on walks with your pets, go shopping for things they need, teach them tricks, take care of them, and tend to their every heeding call.
Also, you still cannot see your pets grow up or make their own. They will forever be puppies and kittens. (Hey, I like development. It makes the game more like a simulator than anything.)
3. Other Bad Stuff Like:
- Competitions limit to two a day for each dog. TP also limits to 200 points each dog.
- In-game realistic portraits replaced by Miis which ended up feeling a bit less like a Real Life simulator. Even Ted Rumsworth, who returns as the host of the gameâ€™s competitions, turns himself unexpectedly into a Mii.
- Tricks are somewhat more responsive through Microphone, but the background noises and your microphone distance (in fact, I advice you to NOT go too near the microphone) can get a bit irritating, especially in Obedience Trial.
- Although you get different locations and Secret Paths and Shops, the walking part of the game is a bit too linear that it lacked some adventurous parts that the DS had.
THE GOOD STUFF:
1. Cute, mindless, safe fun is its mission.
No blood, gore, and mess, nor random swords, guns, nor bazookas were involved with this game. This is the game where everyone in your family would love and possibly hog the 3DS off your hands while you are sleeping.
You will enjoy hours of doing such tame and adorable things, such as spending a nice afternoon playing with your pets and feeding them delicious food that can either make them gain or lose weight, and some of the only problems you will ever have with this game is if the dog runs off to dirty himself in puddles or when your dog runs away suddenly. All the while enjoying the background music the game offers whenever going on location (I personally loved the music for those Nightly Walks a lot)[singlepic id=2126 w= h= float=center]
2. The relationship between dogs and cats in this game is pretty beautiful to look at.
Based on the Shigeru Miyamotoâ€™s own petsâ€™ relationship with a hint of the pet-centric Disney adventure movie, The Incredible Journey, the concept of cats and dogs living together in harmony is pretty cute and unusual at its time. I have yet to see a game where a cat and a dog play with each other without leading to some Tom and Jerry chasing fiasco… as much as I wanted that to exist. And no, it won’t lead to mass hysteria.
3. Pedometer and Camera system was incredibly useful in this game.
Using the mystical powers of the AR Camera and its cards, you can let your dog look around in the real world. It works like a pet camera but it’s for you and your dog. With the addition of the AR Character Cards that are included in the 3DS pack, you can give your dog a wide range of Nintendo-themed headwear depending on whatever Nintendo character you placed there. AR Camera is also used heavily in the Obedience Trial competitions, where itâ€™s only you and the dog (with a funny hat) performing tricks as quickly as possible.[singlepic id=2131 w= h= float=center]
A dog wearing a Kirby hat using an AR Camera and a Kirby AR Card.
Pedometer is also a good way to show how far your virtual dog walks with you through everyday life. The more steps you take, the better prizes the dog gets the moment you reopen the 3DS. Plus, the dog will be happier as well and you are rewarded with more owner points.
4. Other Good Stuff Includes:
- The countless Mario references! Includes a Mario-themed room, a TV that shows nothing but dogs in the Mario-themed room, some Mario-related toys, accessories and furniture, Mario music on the keyboard, andâ€¦
- You guys can rest easy now, since this game is a little easier on the time than the original Nintendogs. In other words: they wonâ€™t run away as much due to negligence. And if they do, they will return for a few days with presents. Owner points also do not decrease whenever done something wrong by accident, and trainer ranks are replaced with unlockables.
- A Robotic dog if you play and train your dogs long and hard enough. (Good luck, guys! It’s about 11000 Owner Points!)
Ever since the Nintendo DS Launch, we got the strong, addicting, and adorable Nintendogs. Itâ€™s 2011 and weâ€¦ still got Nintendogs. Just with improved graphics and minor changes, oh, and cats. But one thingâ€™s for sure, instead of giving us something new and hip that may or may not endup as a hit-and-miss, this game stuck to the tried and true formula that worked right now as it did back then. Itâ€™s a strong title for the 3DS lineup mostly because this is a game where everyone in your family, from your youngest siblings (though switching to 3D mode is not really advisable to them, yet.) to your grandparents, will enjoy with its cute and cuddly charm.
Iâ€™m still saddened that I cannot let my virtual cat do tricks. I do want Maru to learn â€œDefend your liege from invading Samurais.â€