Nintendogs+Cats isn’t the kind of game I typically go for, but it isn’t supposed to be. The title is obviously aimed at a younger audience, not someone who is 22-years-old and male. That being said, I’ve done my best to examine Nintendo’s pet simulator as objectively as I can and enlisted the help of my girlfriend’s 11-year-old sister, Lisa. She is, after all, the exact demographic that NIntendogs+Cats is designed for.
From what I can tell, Nintendogs+Cats for the 3DS is extremely similar to the DS original. I haven’t actually played the DS version, but Lisa has, and according to her, “It’s pretty much the same as the other game.” The big draw this time around is the addition of cats and the game’s 3D features. In order to access the game’s cats, you need to invest a substantial amount of time into training your puppy. When you finally do get a cat, it’s treated more like a glorified dog toy than an actual pet. You can’t interact with the cat, only your dog can. It’s pretty much a non-interactive gimmicky stuffed animal that meows and isn’t a significant addition to the game at all.
Nintendog’s 3D effect looks great; the dogs pop out at you and look adequately furry and pet-able. One of the game’s coolest features is its unique use of augmented reality cards, an often-ignored feature of the 3DS. Depending on what card you use, your little fuzzy puppy will show up in the real world, on the 3DS’s screen of course, exactly where you placed the card. I actually had a great time messing around with this feature and placing my puppy on various real world objects. It’s a shame the 3DS’s camera has such a low resolution though. As soon the images are uploaded to a PC and viewed on a larger screen, they look insanely grainy.
When you pet your puppy with the 3DS’s stylus, he reacts in a very realistic way, smiling and brushing up against your imaginary hand – if you’re lucky, your dog might even lick your screen. These effects look great and there seems to be a significant graphical update from the original Nintendogs on the DS. You also have the ability to do various activities with your dog like throwing a Frisbee or taking it for a walk, but none of these mini-games are particularly enjoyable. The scary thing is that these mini-games actually are the entire game. They don’t provide much depth and you can pretty much experience everything the game has to offer in only a few hours. However, if you do play the game for more than a few hours you’ll be rewarded with new toys and items for your dog. That’s not a good reason to continue playing the game past the initial first few hours in my opinion.
The point of Nintendogs+Cats isn’t to win; it’s a casual pet simulator that encourages you to teach your puppy various tricks. As a game that emphasizes fun rather than skill or difficulty, I’d say that, aside from a few features, I didn’t have much fun with the game and even Lisa quickly grew bored with it. I do understand, however, how it might appeal to a slightly younger audience. If at 11, Lisa was already bored of the game, I imagine it may appeal to seven or eight year olds.
In closing, both Lisa and I felt that although Nintendogs+Cats is supposed to be a sequel to Nintendogs on the DS, it’s pretty much the exact same game but with better graphics and 3D capabilities. These minor additions to an already extremely simple concept aren’t really anything to be excited about especially if you’ve played the original Nintendogs.
-The puppies are terrifyingly cute
-The game may appeal to a young audience
-The game’s AR feature is unique and entertaining
-The puppies are terrifyingly cute
-It’s not much of a video game
-It gets old fast and you can see everything the game has to offer in a few hours
Recommendation: Don’t Buy It! (Unless you’re under 10-years-old and your parents won’t buy you a real dog)
Overall Score: 6/10