I decided to review this DS staple after being prodded by Club Nintendo to rate my experience.

I bought this game as part of a fairly nice sale at Toys R Us some weeks back, so I didn’t pay full price for it, but as far as experiences go, it’s still the best pet sim out there.

I know that I generally “Eh” about Nintendo’s casual fare, but I am actually quite fond of Endless Ocean and the original Nintendogs. I thought it was cute, and with multiple releases, kind of a “Puppy Pokemon“. (FUN FACT: I’ve never played a Pokemon title. Not one. Gasp all you want, but I actually do intend to rectify this on the 3DS Virtual Console when they’ll likely re-release the originals). The game can technically go on forever, and while I eventually quit the first title, I grew fond of my virtual pooch.

I picked the same breed (Yorkie) with this new title. While there are some new breeds, I’m pretty disappointed that the majority of the dogs are recycled from the first batch of titles. I would have liked to have seen a feature where players could download new breeds (such as a cairn terrier), but you have a few choices. I just wish there were more.

Gameplay is basically the same with some cosmetic changes. The puppies are furrier and more detailed, they respond better to verbal commands, and are cuter to interact with, if that’s possible. If you’ve played the previous title, you’ll know exactly what to do.

There are a few notable changes, however. You can take your dog on “real time” walks based on the built-in pedometer. The farther you go, the better presents your pooch will find you. Miis are now integrated into walks, and they actually fit quite well here. StreetPass is also an option, so you can meet other real people and their virtual dogs. Something about this adds to the overall experience that makes me realized how sorely missed this type of interaction was in the first game. You could meet other dogs, but this feels better. The game even uses AR Cards, so you can take pics of your pup. Nintendo even sends out random StreetPass events. Former President Teddy Roosevelt visited my neighborhood, and my dog and his played at the park for a while. At least there’s some unexpected interaction.

The 3D works well in the game. Nothing astounding, but does give depth and a sense of space. The boomerang is a nice effect. Pet trials are fun little mini-games, and you don’t seem penalized in wanting to attempt multiple walks or competitions in a single play session anymore.

The cats… don’t do much. Maybe that’s the point, but I don’t think it really adds anything significant. And there’s only three breeds of cats, so if you don’t like any of them… sorry. The whole cat thing feels like an afterthought, and not really fleshed out.

One thing I would have liked to have seen to add to the whole “sim” experience are vet visits. Granted, I don’t want to see my pet hurt or what have you, put it is a part of life in being a dog owner. Simple things, such as a flu or an upset stomach likely wouldn’t traumatize younger players too much, or even just getting booster shots to stay well. I don’t think it would throw off the “gentle” theme of the game. Hopefully, the in-game vet bills wouldn’t be like the real-life one, or your Mii would have to get a real job instead of winning pet competitions all the time.

Nintendogs + Cats isn’t quite the innovative or groundbreaking title as the first series, but it’s still pretty cute, and has some nice new features that show off the 3DS capabilities. It may not be everyone’s “dream game”, but it’s still charming in its own right.

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Filed under: nintendo gamingpost-script