3DS Review: Nintendogs + Cats

Nintendogs is a series that divides opinion on whether it is a game at all. There are no levels, points systems or end objective you’re aiming for. It’s just you and your new pet learning to co-exist. What cannot be refuted is the sales success the original Nintendogs series has been for Nintendo, with well over 20 million copies sold worldwide.

Now with a new console, Nintendo has went back to its puppy simulator for another release. And if the puppies aren’t “awww” inducing enough, now there are kittens thrown in too.

As it’s a 3DS game then the first thing that needs to be discussed is the 3D. While not as impressive as Ridge Racer’s effects, there is a nice perception of depth in Nintendogs. This is especially true when taking walks and playing fetch with your dog. Another nice touch is when called upon, your dog will often jump up and put two paws on the bottom of the touch screen, looking like it’s leaning out of the screen to lick it’s owner’s face.

So what’s new in this installment? Answer: not a lot really. There are some new items and a new competition to enter your pet into, but the most significant upgrades are cosmetic. With the extra graphical power of the 3DS the dogs look far better now, with a more realistic edge to them than before.

Along with the improved visuals there are also a few new modes that take advantage of the 3DS’ unique features. Using an AR card makes your dog appear as if in front of you to then take pictures. It’s a decent enough time-waster and is a good way to show the 3DS’ capabilities off to friends. You can also take pictures of the dogs at any time during the game with the shoulder buttons. The cute little Shiba featured in the pictures here is my own puppy Link. Wonder where I got that name from eh?

Link playing around atop my Macbook. Scratch it and it's the pound for you!

Using the pedometer function of the 3DS, Nintendogs allows the user to take their dog a walk by actually walking themselves. As terribly cheesy as it sounds I’ve actually found myself putting my 3DS in my pocket and walking somewhere instead of jumping in the car. A quick trip to take a DVD rental back was once a short car journey, now I find myself walking there. It’s testament to Nintendo’s pledge of pushing gaming into new areas, and works in perfectly with Streetpass.

While out on a walk, if you pass any other Nintendogs owners then you immediately swap data through Streetpass. Not only do you receive a copy of their pup and a present, you can then allow your dog and theirs to play together in a game’s park area.

As well as issuing instruction’s with the stylus, Nintendog’ boasts a vastly improved voice recognition system. I was able to easily issue commands and get my dog to perform tricks. There was the odd occasion when I would be met with a confused looking pup and a prompt to speak again, but these moments were far fewer than in the original Nintendogs.

Link's first trophy. As of now it's still his first, daft dog.

The all-new kittens included in the game aren’t really worth the time or effort. They prance about their surroundings and can be played with a little bit. The game encourages buying high furniture so they can climb around, seeing a kitten on a bookcase is mildly amusing for all of five seconds before the realisation that nothing else is going to happen sets in. Maybe in future titles the kittens will get more to do.

Nintendogs is a game that is to be played in small 10-20 minute chunks every day. Anyone looking for a title to sit with for any longer than this should really look elsewhere. For dog and cat lovers, picking up this title is a no-brainer, in fact most won’t have even read this far before making up their mind. Those who alrady have a previous Nintendogs title should consider a lot more. There isn’t a lot more here to justify another purchase.

As a second title for a newly bought 3DS, Nintendogs is a good addition. It’s entertaining, rewarding and there is a feeling of discovery as new items and elements to the game are drip-fed to the player over time. It’s a title that I have now worked into my daily routine, like an expensive, 3D Tamagotchi pet. I’m yet to work out if that’s a good or bad thing.

Below are some selected pics of Link from my time with Nintendogs+Cats.


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