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nintendogs + cats - 3DS App Review

Game Info
nintendogs + cats: Toy Poodle & New Friends / Golden Retriever & New Friends / French Bulldog & New Friends

3DS | Nintendo | 1 Player | Out Now | SpotPass Support | StreetPass Support
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Review
12th August 2011; By Patrick

NOTE !  This review is based on experiences with nintendogs + cats: Golden Retriever & New Friends.
However, all three versions provide similar/identical gameplay experiences.

When
nintendogs was first introduced on the Nintendo DS, it was not the first time that a Nintendo game had no set goals or ending. However, it was the first to barely treat itself like a game at all. Seemingly inspired by the old Tamagotchi toys from the 90’s, the only goal of nintendogs was to raise a dog, feed it, play with it, and keep it happy. It was a massive success, selling millions of copies, and pushing millions of Nintendo DS units. Miyamoto took note of this success, so him and his team began creating a new, more refined version for the 3DS. But instead of creating "nintendogs 3D", he instead opted to add another household pet, giving us nintendogs + cats.
nintendogs + cats is hard to review, since this is not a "game", in the truest sense of the word. The only comparison is to the DS version, which I admittedly have not played. Thus, I will simply do my best in describing if the game is for you or not.

    The first thing you do when you start the game is go to the Kennel and pick out your dog. Depending on what version of the game you get (Golden Retriever, Toy Poodle, or French Bulldog), you will be able to pick first by breed, then specifically choose the pet. The graphical enhancements made possible on the 3DS can really be showcased, in the detail available on the pets themselves, namely their fur. The fur patterns and reactions to being petted are actually realistic to the point of being slightly off-putting.

    Once you take your pet home, you have to get it to trust you. This is done by petting it, calling it over repeatedly, and playing with it. Once you do that, you have to name it, then call it by it’s new name so it recognizes you. Slight warning about this: there’s a reason they make you call it three times, and that’s because if you can’t replicate almost exactly what it thinks is the sound of your voice, it won’t react. 

    After all that's done, you can teach your pets tricks like sitting, laying down, and rolling over, or take them on walks by actively walking it or using the built-in pedometer. By actively walking it, you control its leash, meet other pets, clean up after it when it goes to the bathroom, or have your pet pick up presents for you. If you set it to take a walk via the pedometer, you simply have to walk in the real world and the game will reward you with an item based on how many steps you take. You must set it up beforehand, though.

    
The "game" portion of
nintendogs + cats comes in the form of various competitions. You can compete in Obedience Trials, Lure Coursing, or Flying Disc events. Obedience Trials involve using your "?" AR Card to make your dog appear in the real world, and get it to obey commands that it has learned. This is usually difficult, as you are timed, and it can sometimes take trial and error to make your dog react. There is Flying Disc, where you throw a Frisbee (except they didn’t have the license to that term) and your dog runs to try and catch it; this requires a lot of training first, though. Not only do you have to train your dog to catch, you also have to train it to return it instead of lying down and chewing on it. The third is Lure Coursing, in which you have your dog run through a course while spinning a Lure toy at just the right speed -- close and slow enough that it keeps interest, but far and fast enough that it doesn’t catch it. All of these competitions have multiple difficulties and each one will reward you with more money.

    There are many places to spend your money when you go shopping. Places include a supply store to buy things like food, shampoo, and water; a store for pet accessories (my kitten is proudly wearing shades and a Top Hat); and a store for interior design and furniture for your pets (like climbing towers and beds). There’s also a Kennel where you can buy other pets, depending on what version of the game you have.

    Cats react very differently than dogs, and they act how they would in real life: aloof. They will not always come to you when called, instead just doing what they want. They are much less receptive to being pet or bathed, and will often irritate your dog. They are expensive to buy, expensive to keep, and even take a while to trust you. Doing almost anything with them requires that you name them, and just doing that requires trust. They are adorable, however, and very entertaining to watch (or maybe that’s just the cat-person in me speaking).

    
There are multiple reasons to return to
nintendogs + cats. The first is that like you’d expect, the animals continue living when you’re not there, and cannot take care of themselves. So they will need food and water, and will still become increasingly dirty. To the best of my knowledge, the animals do not die if you forget them. I left mine for 2 weeks, and the only punishment was that I needed to take care of them the second I got back. 

    
Another great feature is that you can meet other
nintendogs + cats owners with StreetPass and get a chance to play with their animals in the park. Also, if I connected with someone with the Toy Poodle version, and they had the version-exclusive Corgi, by playing with it, I can have a Corgi in my game as well. So there is good reason to be using StreetPass. There is also regular SpotPass content that will be downloaded to your game bi-weekly and act like StreetPass data.

    Overall, nintendogs + cats is a well-rounded package, provided that you know what you are getting into. This is not a game where you and your pets go on adventures or something. This is, plain and simple, a pet simulator, and a damn good one at that. It is robust, fully-featured, visually appealing, and gives you a lot of bang for your buck.


27/30 - Excellent

Functionality 9/10 - Fully robust, many dogs and cats that look and act realistically, much to do, encourages revisiting pets
Presentation 8/10 - Pets look realistic, menus and items look like the way they should, lots of clear charm and effort
Lasting Appeal 5/5 - Lots of different breeds, continuing SpotPass support, StreetPass unlocks new breeds, animals need taking care of
Value 5/5 - A lot of content in the way of items, pets, and supplies, tons of replay value, as much value as you let there be

Equivalent to a score of 90% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by Patrick
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nintendogs + cats: Toy Poodle / Golden Retriever / French Bulldog
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