Certainly a unique and entertaining game, but Nintendogs ultimetly fails to keep you coming back for more.

User Rating: 7.3 | Nintendogs: Dalmatian & Friends DS
Tired of gunning down alien hordes? Speeding around city streets in a tricked out ride? Commanding your armies to destroy your foes? What ever happened to the simple things in life? Sitting back and listening to the birds, or dozing in the sun, or even spending time with man’s best friend?

Certainly Nintendogs isn’t the most action packed game you’ll ever play. When a game revolves around keeping a dog, there is an obvious limit to what you can do. Never the less, Nintendogs really is worth checking out. It has a good variety of somewhat experimental gameplay and some adorable little dogs. Its just a shame that overall Nintendogs doesn’t really have that much to keep you occupied past the first 2 weeks

The game certainly starts well. You’ll head off to the kennel, knock on the door (with the touch screen of course) and have the option of looking at 3 kennel puppies or buying your first dog. Whatever you do, you’ll soon see that the majority of dogs in the game look amazingly life-like. They move and animate in a realistic way, and look very much like their real life counter-parts. While some dogs have been realised much better than others, you’ll really be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking out a new friend from all the possibilities.

When your new pup finally gets home, you’ll see him wandering around your amazingly empty house with a somewhat confused expression. The game is kind enough to teach you the bare basics of the game, such as how to call your dog over and give it a stroke. Certainly the first time you try petting your dog its nearly impossible not to let out a childish squeal of delight. The way it moves depending on where you are rubbing it is truly amazing to behold, and is surly a tribute the quality of the overall package. Yet amazingly after a few play sessions stroking your dog if anything feels more like a chore, something you’ll quickly run through to get to the meat of the game.

Eventually your new dog will settle down at which point you’ll be asked to name the little guy. Sadly the DS microphone isn’t of the highest of qualities, and often it won’t record exactly what you say, missing out certain letters or at times whole chunks of the word. While most of the time this poses no problem, when you’re teaching your pooch new tricks, the microphone sometimes confuses the command with another command or simply doesn’t register it. There is nothing more annoying than calling for your dog to sit, and watching it look vacantly in the other direction, or worse still, carry out a completely different command.

However these incidents occur rarely, and for the majority of the time your puppy will obey you first time without any fuss. There’s no doubt that watching your dog sit and then look up at you with those adoring eyes would warm the heart of anyone. The dogs themselves have amazingly expressive faces and also sound very much like the real breeds they represent, so much so that you’ll actually find yourself becoming attached to them in a way that only a guy and a virtual pet can.

So, anyway. After teaching your dog its name and how to sit, the game pretty much leaves you on your own to look after your dog. The first thing you’ll want to do is feed your hairy friend (lets face it, they’ve had a hard day) with some dry food, and give it a drink of water. Later in the game they’ll get dirty then you’ll have to wash them by scrubbing them down with soap them showering them. Thankfully your dog is remarkably co-operative during this sequence, very much unlike a real dog during bath time.

All the supplies you need can be bought from the supply store, or from the discount shop you can visit during walks. There are 6 shops in the game in total, the Supply and Discount stores, the Secondhand shop (where you can sell your junk), the Kennel (where you buy more dogs), the interior decorator (where you can change the style of your home) and the Dog Hotel (for you cruel players who want to get rid of a dog. You cold hearted person, you…)

The majority of Nintendogs involves using an item and seeing how your dog responds. These range from balls to discs to bubble blowers and a whole other range of bizarre items your dog will either run around with or eye with caution. Again, the way you use the unique features of the DS with these items is clever and very fun…for the first week or so. Much like the rest of the game…

Being the energetic virtual animals Nintendogs are, you’ll have to take them out on a walk every now and then. After plotting your route on a map using the touch screen, you’ll enter a bizarre 2D walking level where for the most part you’ll just have to watch your dog walking past some rather bland scenery, to the accompaniment of incredibly cheerful yet extremely irritating music. Occasionally the walk will feature a welcome interruption when you’ll either find a present (ranging from crap like a stick to an empty bottle to something worthwhile owning) or another dog (which will either befriend or attack your dog). Sometimes you’ll find garbage, which you’ll have to pull your stubborn pooch away from by yanking its leash. Proper planning means you can pass by the park or the gym to practice for contests, further improving an otherwise rather dull trek.

While Nintendogs doesn’t exactly mirror real life (with its non-aging pups) it does follow the ground rule that money doesn’t grow on trees. Because of this, your puppies are going to have to work for a living. Money can be made in two ways, by selling items you find at the Secondhand shop, or the far more enjoyable and prosperous way of entering contests. There are 3 kinds of contest, the Disc competition, where your dog has to catch your flying disc to earn points, the Agility trial, kinda like an obstacle course for dogs, and the obedience trial, where your dog has to perform ever increasing amounts of tricks on command, and where the microphone can be at its most annoying. To be honest none of these competitions are that hard till you reach the highest levels, at which point you’ll really have to have trained hard with your dogs.

Sadly what I’ve described is really most of Nintendogs. There is of course a simple multiplayer component but really it isn't much fun. After a few days playing your dog will be going on excruciatingly long walks and basically the only things to do is stroke your dog, feed him, walk him then turn him off and go play a better game. Really, after a while you’ll only play to enter contests (which you’re limited to 3 a day), and soon after purchase the idea of spending time with the dog will begin to feel like a chore, no matter how appealing those little puppy dog eyes are