Nintendogs Nintendo DS Review

A game or not a game? That is the question! It seems like Nintendo is not quite sure what they have created. Whatever Nintendogs is; be it a game or not, it is without doubt the cutest game any company have every created. For anyone that comes within ten feet of the title and gazes onto those double 3inch screens will find it impossible not to resort back to their childhood and mumble incomprehensible cutesy phrases towards their innovative handheld.

Gameplay

Nintendogs begins with you walking up to a kennel and knocking on the door with the stylus (hinting toward further stylus use in duration the course of this title) After this it is up to you to buy your first puppy from a starting selection of 6 depening on which copy you decided to purchase. After buying your first puppy you bring him (or her) home, he may be very scared and fearful of his new surroundings so it would be a good idea to make him comfortable by petting him. After him spending some time with you he will start to like you and cheer up, start running around and putting his paws up against the DS screen to look at you. Now you have the chance to name your new puppy!

You name your dog by speaking his name into the DS’ mic, after about 3 goes the game voice recognition software will recognise what you are saying and the dog will “learn” his name. This voice recognition/stylus control is used for teaching your dog almost all the tricks in the game. Infact the face and shoulder buttons serve almost no purpose in controlling the game, mostly only used when moving the map around while bringing your dog for a walk. Due to the puppy learning his tricks from your voice he will not (should not at least) listen to other people if they try and command him.

If you train it well enough, you’ll excel in dog shows, disc contests and agility contests, which will earn you money to buy items for your dog to play with. You also buy food and drink to feed your dog with the money. When you earn enough cash, you can buy even more puppies to live with yours. To throw an item or toy for you dogs to play with you flick the stylus across the touch screen, this is then followed by your dog(s) dashing crazily after the item bumping into each other if there is more than one on the way. The dogs must learn to then bring the item back, to do this tap the DS screen to get their attention and then again to get them to return it. In time the dogs will learn to do this themselves giving a you a great sense of achievement!

As I mentioned before you can also walk your pup around the neighbourhood using the map to trace out a route and then holding the lead as you walk around the city with him. Sometimes you may find hidden items for your dogs such as treats and toys and at times you will meet other computer controlled trainers walking their dogs. On these walks you can bring your dog to the park to practice your frisbee throwing, to the gym to practice their agility or to special stores to buy items that are not available in normal stores. All these tasks really help to get you attached to your chosen dog(s) and create a certain bond with them which is something very hard to do with something that is not necessarily real.

Graphics

Visually the game is very stunning. The dog models alone look very lifelike with nice texturing and animations. The whole game is displayed in 3D and even though it does not look like it is pushing the DS to its hardware limits, it is still very impressive. The menus all suit the style of the game well. The little icons that display the games items look nice as do the maps that display while taking your dog for a walk. The backdrops of the city and your home where the dogs lived initially are stunning but they seem to suit the games style well. As I said the animations are seriously impressive, the dogs walk, run, jump and look just as you would expect them to, all the mannerisms have been implemented to wonderful effect. They act exactly like real dogs. It is clear Nintendo put a lot of work into this aspect of the game and the results are incredible.

Sound

It goes without saying that you will hear a lot of barking when playing Nintendogs and while I am not 100% sure about this it seems the male and female version of each dog included in the game has their own distinct bark which is a nice touch! To accompany this, each dogs’ yelp and whines are different, which could help you distinguish your dogs from each other even if you are not watching the screen. Other sounds such as cars passing by your home are included as are the pitter-patter of your dog’s feet against different surfaces. There are also a few nice tunes included in the game when you are doing certain tasks. My favourite of these is without doubt the one that plays when you take your dog out for a walk.

Lifespan

Even though there is a huge range of things to do with you dogs you may see everything the game has to offer in as little as two days. Competitions can only be entered 3 times each day by each dog and dogs can also get worn-out while learning tricks. This is Nintendo’s way of trying to extend a game that really doesn’t have a huge amount of longevity. The huge amount of fun that can be had during the first few days of play can be diminished at an alarmingly rapid rate which is disappointing for a game that was originally so much fun just a few sort days ago. Ultimately you will run out of new things to do literally days after buying the game which is Nintendogs biggest downfall.

Overall

While Nintendogs is an interesting idea and a game (if I am allowed to call it that) that will be a whole lot of fun for about a week, that’s all that Nintendogs will really offer the player. After one week of tossing a ball, feeding you chosen canine, taking them on a walk, tossing a frisbee and entering them in competitions, you have seen all the title has to offer. Once you lose interest in completing these daily tasks then you are done with the game. There sadly isn’t enough packed inside the gaming cart to call it value for money but there is no doubt that it can be a whole lot of fun while it lasts.

7.7 out of 10

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