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.
Earning first place in one level of a competition gives you access to the next, more challenging level. Later disc competitions introduce hazards like sand pits, and lure courses get more complicated, with intersections that force you to decide on the fly whether to speed ahead and risk a time-wasting collision with another dog or slow down to let other dogs go ahead. It's encouraging to see your dog get better at these events, growing from a timid competitor to a proud champion. You can only enter each type of competition twice per day, though, which feels like an arbitrary limitation designed to extend the experience. Because of this restriction, earning the big bucks you need to buy a cat, another dog, or expensive furniture or home interiors takes some time.
If you want your dog to do well in competitions (and if you want your conscience to let you sleep at night), you need to take good care of her, feeding her and giving her water frequently, as well as giving her baths when needed. Your dog needs love, too; if you come back to the game after the better part of a day or more away, she will be starved not just for food but also for affection, though this is easily remedied by spending a bit of time petting or playing with your dog. The most involved aspect of caring for your dog is taking her for walks. Those who played the original Nintendogs may have fond memories of the way walking worked in that game, where you plotted your own course around town and were able to go a bit farther on each walk than you were before. Sadly, the sense of exploration that came with determining your own path around town is gone here.
Instead, you walk along straight pathways through different areas, including downtown, the mountains, and the seaside. Before long, you're given the option to follow signposts from one area to another, but that's the extent of your control over where your walks take you. On these walks, you clean up after your dog, tapping poop to put it in a bag for disposal. You also try to train your dog to stop engaging in bad behaviors like playing in puddles and getting her coat all dirty by giving the leash quick tugs and reinforcing good behavior with treats. Additionally, your dog finds presents to bring you as you stroll down the path. These nicely wrapped packages often contain goods like rubber and metal bolts, which, when you've collected enough, you can trade in at the secondhand store for new toys.
Each area has places where you can stop and play with your dog or give her special treats. There's a gym where you can practice lure coursing, a pleasant seaside park that's great for throwing the flying disc around, and a cafe in town that makes delicacies just for dogs, to name a few. The most pleasant aspect of walking your dog is the frequent encounters with other dog owners. These friendly folks are happy to share tips about taking care of your dog or more effectively training her for competitions. And if your dog and the other dog hit it off, you might get the option to let the dogs go on a playdate at the park together. These encounters make you feel like part of a friendly community of dog owners.
By selecting the pedometer option from an in-game menu, you can also take your dog for walks while the 3DS is closed. With this option activated, the game keeps track of how many steps you've taken; the farther you've walked, the happier your dog will be and the more presents she will have collected for you when you open the 3DS again. Additionally, Nintendogs + Cats makes good use of the 3DS's StreetPass functionality. If your 3DS communicates with a friend or stranger's 3DS, you'll receive a present from the other dog owner's collection of stuff, and you can have a playdate at the park with the other dog.
The lifelike behavior and the adorable appearance of the animals in Nintendogs + Cats is essential to making this such a sweet and endearing game. The game also benefits from 3D visuals, which give a sense of depth and space to your home, the park, and the other environments, as well as create the illusion that you can reach right into the screen to touch your pets. If you're in the market for a furry bundle of love that won't jump on the bed and lick your face at 3:00 in the morning, or if you know a young person who wants a pet but might not quite be ready for the responsibility of the real thing, you won't find more adorable virtual animals than those in Nintendogs + Cats.
- 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)