A variety of cute mini-games that are worth playing even if you're not an established fan of the toy line.
brandyinindiana wrote this review on .
The line of Littlest Pet Shop DS games is somewhat comparable to the many Pokémon games released over the years, in that each version comes with specific pets, and in order to interact with all of them, you must buy all of the games. This is essentially the only difference between the three titles: Winter, Jungle, and Garden. While Garden comes equipped with more standard animals like dogs and cats, Winter and Jungle become more specific, with penguins and polar bears available in Winter, and frogs and monkeys available in Jungle.
Rounding out each game are various versions of dogs, cats, rabbits, and horses, among others, bringing the total in each to 20 pets. No matter which version you are playing, you start the game with three pets, and are transported into the Pet Plaza, where the majority of gameplay takes place.
After naming your three new pets, you're led through a short tutorial that introduces the basic controls, various shops and menus that you can interact with, and explains the game's overall goal, with that goal being to collect as many pets as you can while keeping each one feeling happy and loved.
As in so many other DS titles aimed at young children, the main gameplay of the title is centered on mini-games, with 16 mini-games available in all. These games range from the expected faire, like a tile-sliding game and hide-and-seek, to more original offerings like a dart throwing game that has you flinging darts from the touch screen to pop balloons floating around on the top screen.
Each mini-game incorporates the DS's touch screen in its own way. Some, like "Steady Spin" and "Whirl N Twirl" have you drawing circles to keep either a ball or hamster wheel (respectively) moving, while others like "Coloring Craze" use the stylus like a marker, and ask you to color in a picture of one of your pets within a set time limit.
Each mini-game offers three difficulty settings, and after completing each, you are awarded with a certain amount of Kibble, the game's currency. This Kibble can be used to purchase more pets from the market, which are then transferred into your pet shop where they can be interacted with, and can also be used to buy accessories like hats, glasses and collars that can be equipped on your pets.
With such a variety of mini-games to choose from, it's unfortunate that the amount of Kibbles earned from each is so low. While completing a game on a higher difficulty does reward more points than doing so on the easiest setting, rarely will you be rewarded more than 100 Kibble at a time for your efforts. The coloring pages mini-game is one of the only exceptions to this generalization, as it offers more than 400 Kibble a go when coloring on the hardest setting (that is, with the least amount of time to complete a picture).
So, even though many of the games are quite fun to play repeatedly, players like myself will often find themselves coloring the easiest picture they can find over and over again, just so they can stock up on Kibble in order to buy the next pet or toy from the shop as quickly as possible.
After a time, your Pet Plaza will eventually become filled with pets and toys, and it's at these times that other worlds within the game are unlocked, until you have unlocked all four: the basic Pet Plaza, a wintery ski slope, a jungle forest, and a flower-filled garden.
You and your pets can move freely back and forth between the various environments, so long as no more than 6 pets are in any one area at a time, and it's this factor that allows for a large amount of customization within the game. That is, you could dress each pet in your winter area with scarves and ski hats, while keeping your jungle pets "cool" in nothing but little bows or ribbons.
Luckily, even though the game is aimed at children, even those with a more discerning eye should be pleased with the overall look of the title. As with the real life toys, each pet in the game is comprised of an excessively oversized head and eyes on top of a tiny body that should make many say "awww" at the very sight of them.
Each environment within the game is also just as cute, with lots of pastel colors, frilly patterns, and Dr. Seuss shaped buildings. And even if younger players find themselves board with the mini-games, I can easily see them being incredibly drawn in by just watching their pets interact with each other, as you will often see them chasing after one another, playing leap-frog or otherwise investigating their surroundings.
The sound department also adds to the cuteness factor, as most animals come equipped with adorable species specific sounds like meowing and barking. Furthermore, the sound track within the game is just as varied as the pets themselves, and incorporates everything from upbeat pop to slow elevator music and even some ragtime tunes.
In the end, even with three levels of difficulty, Littlest Pet Shop on the DS is still undeniably skewed towards a younger, female audience. This isn't to say however, that players must be established fans of the toy line before playing the game, as I came in completely blind and still appreciated what the game is trying to do, with that being to allow young girls an opportunity to interact with their favorite toys in a way they never could before. And whether you're a fan of the toys or not, how could you really argue with that?
Full review and screenshots at: http://www.grrlgamer.com/review.php?g=littlestpetshopw