The original Nintendogs was a huge success on the DS, so it makes perfect sense that Nintendo has carried the series onto the 3DS.
Game - Nintendogs + Cats Version - 3DS Time Spent Playing - 7 hours Obtained - Review Copy courtesy of Nintendo of America
The original Nintendogs was a huge success on the DS, so it makes perfect sense that Nintendo has carried the series onto the 3DS. Nintendogs + Cats, a real-time pet simulation game, is the sequel to the Nintendogs series. With the exception of some minor additions, the overall formula is the same.
The game starts with you choosing a puppy to take home to raise and train for competitions. Training and caring for the dog earns you money to spend on in game items. There are also a handful of other game modes to experience in addition to taking care of your dog.
Gameplay and Controls
In caring for your dog there are four main areas to pay attention to:
Physique - Do you take your dog out for walks, play fetch with him/her, etcetera? Hunger - Are you feeding your dog too little, just enough, or too much? Thirst - Is your dog getting enough to drink? Coat - Is your dog clean?
In order to maintain a happy, healthy dog, you must care for him as you would a real animal. As you progress through the game, you enter your dog in competitions, take him/her out for walks, and go to the beach or parks. You can even go to the cafe with your dog, where you can buy him/her special treats to eat. Also, when you are on walks, various routes will be unlocked as you progress.
There are four options available on the main screen. There is a journal in which you can write notes using your stylus. The supplies option is where you access all your supplies on hand, from food and water, to bubbles, records, balloons, and more. Go out is the option you choose if you want to take your dog out of the house. From this option, you can choose to walk your dog, go shopping, enter a competition, or use the pedometer. The final option is directly in the middle of the screen - a circle with a silhouette of a dog and a person's hand. Touching this icon causes an audible whistle, which causes your dog to come running up to the screen.
Using the stylus, the journal allows you to write whatever you want for that day. This screen also displays any gifts you receive via SpotPass. From there, you are able to setup your SpotPass information such as your Mii, an in game photo, a brief message and a present to give away to others.
As I explained before, supplies allows you to access your stock of supplies. This is where you will choose the food, water, and various toys to give to your dog.
In terms of content, go out is the most robust section of the game. It is broken down into four options:
Walk - From here, you can take your dog on a walk to various locations. Using the stylus, you grab the leash and guide your dog. Along the way, he/she may find a present on the path, or you may run into another person walking their dog. A short sequence will occur in which your dog and the other dog decide if they like each other or not. This is also where anyone you have met in StreetPass or SpotPass will show up with his/her dog as well.
Shopping - When you go out shopping, there are six different areas to spend money. You can purchase essentials as well as some non-essentials from the Pet Supplies store. Accessories allows you to purchase trendy accessories to dress up your dog. Interiors allows you to either remodel your home entirely or purchase furniture for your dog or yourself. Second Hand is a store which allows you to either sell items you have picked up in your walks or trade in merchandise for new items, including a remote controlled helicopter. I'm still waiting for one more piece of material for that one. The Kennel is where you go to purchase a new dog or cat to bring home. At the Pet Hotel, you can drop your pet off to be cared for if you aren't able to play the game for awhile.
Competitions - You can enter your dog into one of three competitions up to twice a day. The three competitions available are: Disc Competition, Lure Coursing, and Obedience Trial. Each of the three competitions has 5 cups you can compete in. Disc competition is standard. You use the stylus to grab the disc and throw it to your dog. Scoring is based on whether or not the disc was caught and the distance of the throw. Lure coursing requires you to use a fishing reel on the bottom screen to reel in the lure. You have to maintain a careful speed so that your dog doesn't bite the lure and stop chasing it. Of course, the fastest time wins. Obedience trial uses the AR cards for you to try out the tricks you have taught your dog.
Pedometer - You can close your 3DS and carry it with you. The more steps you take, the greater gifts your dog finds for you when you re-open the 3DS. For instance, I walked 1200 steps and my dog found a present containing 3 boxes of dog cookies. This allows you to save your cash if your funds are low.
Visuals and Sound
The visuals look great. The camera zooms in and out according to the distance between yourself and your dog. The locales are varied and each one has many details. Of course, the most important visual is your dog. The animals have fluid animations and react to your touch with the stylus accordingly. The detail on the hair is excellent. Plus, the 3D depth is executed quite well. Just having your dog put his paws up on the top screen and "lick" you is an enjoyable sight.
From hearing your dog bark, howl, and growl, to birds chirping, the sounds are well done and enjoyable to listen to.
Concluding Overall Impressions
You've probably noticed that I didn't mention much of anything about the cats. Quite simply, it felt like they were an afterthought to the experience. You can't adopt one at first, it takes some time and a bit of money. Once you adopt a cat you can't even enter it in any competitions. I think the appeal to adopting the cat is just to see the dynamic between having dogs and cats in your virtual home. I will say it is fun to watch them play together.
Nintendogs + Cats is a relaxing game. It doesn't require much thought. It's simply about having fun with your animal and enjoying raising him/her. While I must admit I have never been a fan of animal simulation games before, with what Nintendo has brought to the table, I am a fan now. I can see why the original Nintendogs was such a success. If you're looking for a relaxing, fun, family friendly game, then pick up a copy of Nintendogs + Cats.