101 DinoPets 3D
3DS Download | Selectsoft / Teyon | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | $4.99
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14th January 2013; By KnucklesSonic8
Some may recall it was over a year ago that Teyon and Selectsoft released 101 Shark Pets and 101 Dolphin Pets on DSiWare. Well, now they've made a transition to the 3DS' eShop, hoping to amass further support for their series. To be fair, 101 DinoPets 3D purely from the perspective of its application of simulation rules and guidelines, is still pretty down-to-earth as far as the sorts of behaviours you'll be involved in. But by other measures, there's weighty evidence that can be leveled against the game to indicate this transition hasn't been a very poised one.
Being the first of anything can be a gamble, but where we can immediately draw some lines is by what was mentioned at the outset. The first relates to the unusual nature of the game, stretching so far as to have your baby dinosaur not only live in a house but have it all to itself, with no sign of human life in its direct care or in the surrounding neighbourhood. The second point has to do with this not being a completely new creation. Following in the same pattern of titles that came before it by the same team, 101 DinoPets 3D involves, not maintaining a nursery of dinosaurs as might be assumed, but taking care of a single T-Rex, raptor, triceratops, or other dinosaur type personalized to your liking. (It is the number of possible combinations that amount to 101.) Yet, while the underlying formula has largely remained unchanged, it's not a complete re-skin. Many of these changes have to do with matters of interface, execution, and the physical space.
On the basic level, taking care of your dinosaur boils down to monitoring seven different fields relating to hunger and thirst levels, hygiene, fatigue, washroom needs, overall health, and happiness. Keeping an eye on things is never a hassle, in part due to how these are organized. These stats remain ever-present along the right of the 3D Screen in a vertical banner format. As well, dialog boxes appear before and after completing activities to provide updates on your pet's condition. And before you ask: No, you can't get away with being disdainful. Should sickness befall your pet, they won't be of the right frame of mind to do anything participatory. When their immune system is low and in need of medicinal treatment, selecting the icon marked with a First Aid Kit will bring about the commencement of a mini-game where you move a crosshair with the Circle Pad and press R to get rid of any bacteria that try to leech off your pet's blood cells.
If, however, this were simply about addressing basic needs on a continuum, there wouldn't be much of a game component, so what you're given is a list of objectives that change on a regular basis. Generally the amount of money you're awarded for performing a given task isn't bad, and there's no shortage of things to be accomplished for the purpose of receiving stars and unlocking accessories, all of which will indirectly aid in keeping your dinosaur satisfied. The shop is the main place to spend your money, though you can do so from the feeding menu as a quick shortcut for food and beverages only. In addition to the small supply of food items, you'll find a decent selection of outfit pieces, as well as trinkets and furniture for the house decor. Nothing broad, though. Also, you cannot see what any of these look like prior to purchasing, which is silly.
Inside the mini-game menu are six different activities, all ranging in effectiveness as far as how they've been designed and what they do to either hamper or continue (but never improve) the overall fun factor. The first two types require little explanation: jigsaw puzzles and memory matching. The same can be said of the third game, which has you spotting differences between two similar photos. But I should add that the hint feature, in company with the general nature of the altered elements, makes this really easy. As I recall, these events were all present in previous titles, but the following are specific to this game. The first of the three has you scaling a vertical tower by moving left and right as your pet jumps automatically. Think of it like riding a pogo stick all the way to the top. Next is a slider puzzle where you have to create a road from the starting line to the finish. Thankfully, there are multiple possibilities available and not one set way, so it won't be as quick to frustrate individuals who can't stand this style of gameplay. Even still, there's very little fun to be gained here. Last is a runner-style mini-game where you must jump over gaps, slide underneath barricades, and destroy walls made of toy bricks. Unfortunately, the fact that it goes on longer than it should doesn't help its case, not to mention the environment is on the bad side.
To be granted entry into local pet competitions, first you must teach your pet a few tricks (simple lines and shapes) by dragging your stylus on the Touch Screen when asked. Even with the simplicity, the recognition on some of these can be rather persnickety, but if you press onward regardless your pet will master them somewhat quick. This entire process will introduce added repetition into the routine, but by this time it's something you'll be used to.
To be quite honest, 101 DinoPets 3D isn't much fun at all. Although previous iterations also share the same susceptibility of becoming chore-like, such does not occur as quickly as it does here, I found. Allow me to point out that because of my previous exposure to the formula and eventually tiring of it on a personal level, that may have affected my ability to see the game's true colours. So if you're thinking of getting this for someone of a younger demographic, it might be best to take my perspective with a grain of salt. But separating that from the physical design of it all, the interaction doesn't have much personality to it and it's pretty superficial. As such, don't expect any visible changes in your pet's mood or movements as a reflection of any neglect on your part.
101 DinoPets 3D's biggest misstep has to do with the shoddy portrayal of its visuals. I wasn't expecting anything glamorous, but the values, while having some average qualities, are still rougher than what I'm used to on the service. Technical concerns range from delays in results; an unflattering, blurry effect seen as you make your way to locations, as if a fog had settled in; as well as some choppy framerate issues or lousy animation work (as seen with the silhouette when petting or bathing) that are especially the cause of bad programming in connection with the 3D implementation. The music isn't bad, though. I do prefer the general setup here, where, rather than magically teleporting to each location, your pet follows a set path to the selected area. The property is spread out quite nicely with seven different rooms and outdoor destinations, and this is a nice change from the DSiWare iterations of this series in that there's more to see, even if it's not fascinating.
I guess there's only so much that can be done to spruce up the base model, but the problem with 101 DinoPets 3D -- well, the main problem, anyway -- is that it's a bit of a drain. While not exhausting your energy by assigning hectic responsibilities or unreasonable tasks, there isn't much here that would ferment in you a desire to return to the game with regularity. For that type of effect, you'd better look elsewhere. Heck, you might even want to look into the DSiWare releases belonging to the same series, as those do a better job in certain respects. Really, these titles lack a certain amount of grace, but it's much more apparent here. Kids might have some fun with the basic design, but anyone else won't be too thrilled over the way this all comes out.
17/30 - Okay/Average
Gameplay 6/10 - Basic system with a preferred setup over DSiWare iterations, mini-games are a mixed bag, formula becomes increasingly repetitive
Presentation 5/10 - Experiences a number of issues, technical concerns ranging in scope and extent, more positive attributes are generally average
Enjoyment 3/5 - Valid reasons for kids to have a good time, doesn't have much personality even with customization aspects, more draining than fun
Extra Content 3/5 - Multiple combinations present for personalizing your pet, unlockable items, decent value overall for anyone younger in years
Equivalent to a score of 57% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System