Nintendogs + Cats: Toy Poodle & New Friends Review
They may not win best in show, but the adorable animals of Nintendogs + Cats are sure to win your heart.
- The puppies and kittens are incredibly charming
- Caring for and training a dog is a joy
- Encounters with other dog owners make walks pleasant
- Makes good use of the StreetPass and pedometer.
- Limited to entering each competition only twice per day
- Takes some time to earn the money to buy a cat
- Not much to do with cats
- Sense of exploration has been removed from walks.
Owning a pet can be a joyous experience, but it's also a serious responsibility. No game can substitute for the real deal, but the lovable animals in Nintendogs + Cats convey about as much of the delight of owning a pet as you can reasonably expect, and you don't have to worry about having them ruin your furniture. It does away with one of the more interesting features of its predecessor, and the introduction of cats brings surprisingly little to the experience. But these charming virtual pets are sure to captivate players of all ages.
Nintendogs + Cats eases you into your new role as a pet owner. When you fire up the game for the first time, you find yourself at a kennel, presented with dogs from a range of breeds. (The nine breeds that are available to you initially depend on which version of the game you're playing, but over time, all 27 breeds can be unlocked in any version.) After selecting a breed you'd like to look at, you're asked to choose from categories within that breed. Select Labrador, for instance, and you're then asked to specify whether you'd like to see yellow, black, or chocolate Labs, and after selecting a variety, you meet three different dogs who meet that description. It's hard not to form an immediate sense of attachment to the adorable pups on offer that seem so happy to see you.
When you find one you think you might like to take home, you can learn more about him or her. The brief blurbs might inform you that the dog you're looking at is a "well-behaved male" who "wags for both friends and strangers," or it might caution you that "this girl is a bit stubborn, so she requires persistent training." Cat lovers should note that felines aren't available when you first visit the kennel. Your first pet must be a dog, and because purchasing that dog will leave you too short on cash to immediately buy a cat, it'll take at least a few real-time days of competing and earning money with your dog before you can get a cat. Anyone who prefers felines to canines and hopes to ignore the dogs and play exclusively with cats is out of luck.
When you do get around to buying a feline, you find that cat owning is much less involved than dog owning. Unlike dogs, you can't teach cats tricks, take them for walks, or enter them in competitions. But it's a lot of fun to play with these lifelike kittens and to watch them climb up onto windowsills and bookshelves, as well as frolic with (or hiss at) your dogs. You can have up to three pets at home at any time, and you can leave up to three in the care of a pet hotel. You can also spend your hard-earned cash on new furniture or interior styles, decorating your home however you like.
So dogs are the star of the show. After bringing your puppy back to your spacious, sparsely furnished home, the dog (in our case, a female) will at first seem a bit anxious in her new surroundings. Showering the dog with attention and affection, however, helps calm her down, and the way she pants happily when you pet her may melt your heart. Soon, you're prompted to name your new pet, which you do by speaking her name into the microphone a few times. At this point, you can begin teaching your dog voice commands, beginning with the most basic: sitting down. Straightforward tutorials clearly explain how to teach your dog tricks, which include classics like sitting up and playing dead, as well as more unusual tricks, like the ability to sneeze on command. Your dog can learn up to three tricks a day, and positive reinforcement through petting and the awarding of treats helps when practicing to make your dog more obedient and responsive to your commands.
Teaching your dog these tricks is a rewarding way to bond with her, but it's not just for fun. It's also a way to earn some cold, hard cash. You can compete in obedience trials where you're awarded points based on how well your dog responds to specific commands. These competitions use the 3D camera and the AR cards that come with the handheld to make it appear as if the dog is in your real-world environment. (The effect is a bit jittery and unconvincing, but the feature is good for taking still photos of your virtual pets in your actual kitchen or living room.) In addition to the obedience trial, you can enter your dog in lure-coursing races and in flying-disc competitions. In lure coursing, your goal is to wind a lure on a string at a brisk, steady pace and lead your dog down a track. Go too fast and your dog will lose interest and stop racing after the lure. Go too slow and your dog will pounce on the lure and cost you valuable seconds. In the flying-disc competition, you earn more points based on how far your dog runs before catching the disc, scoring bonus points for jumping catches.
- Game Universe:
- Nintendogs + Cats: Toy Poodle & New Friends (3DS),
- Nintendogs + Cats: French Bulldog & New Friends (3DS),
- Nintendogs + Cats: Golden Retriever & New Friends (3DS),
- Nintendogs: Dalmatian & Friends (DS),
- Nintendogs: Best Friends (DS),
- Nintendogs: Chihuahua & Friends (DS),
- Nintendogs: Dachshund & Friends (DS),
- Nintendogs: Lab & Friends (DS)