Nintendogs + Cats (3DS) Review
It’s pretty easy to be a bit skeptical when it comes to handling Nintendogs + Cats , a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS that is bound to split critics all over the media. Thankfully, upon some rather careful and thorough inspection, Nintendogs + Cats provides a great experience to a much wider audience than the previous title did, and still manages to retain everything that made it so great all those years ago when it launched for the Nintendo DS.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed in Nintendogs + Cats is the graphical upgrades the game has received. Both the animations of the animals and the texturing have shown significant improvements, with everything running much more smoothly than its predecessor. A greater improvement that really stood out, however, was how the fur on the animals looks. I’ve probably not seen something so fluffy and so life like since Starfox Adventures hit the Gamecube all those years ago. For the most part, the game looks very nice, but some players may be a bit disappointed with how bland the environments may appear. Fortunately, though, the game does a great job at what matters – the animation and gestures of the animals themselves. This is possibly one of the cutest 3DS games available thus far.
Nintendogs + Cats utilises the 3D capabilities of the 3DS in a very mild manner. Depth is added to all of the environments, and as the dogs/cats travel further and further away from you, they get noticeably smaller and more distant with real depth. When players step out into the roads to take their pets for a walk, does the 3D effect really shine, with the tether and the pet both moving at the right amount of distance to make it feel like your pet is actually walking into the distance. Lastly, when the pet jumps up on the screen, there is a minor “popping” effect with their paws and snouts that actually threw me off a few times, causing me to jerk the 3DS away from me in reflex, which was a nice touch.
For those who haven’t played before, the general idea of Nintendogs is to adopt a certain breed of animal (in this case, up to three cats or dogs) and then care for them as you would a normal pet. Players can use touchscreen gestures and voice control to teach each dog new tricks, and assign certain commands to recall these tricks whenever the player feels. Due to the use of the 3D screen, the action all happens up the top while players will find themselves interacting with the pet via the touchscreen in a silhouette of their pet. I initially thought this would be a little strange to play around with but upon some long time with it, I’ve decided that it works quite well and the 3D obviously adds more to the experience.
As you’d expect, this edition contains cats to choose following your first dog too, and despite increasing the variety in the pets, the cats just aren’t as fun to play with. One could argue this is how cats would act in real life, and in that regard Nintendo have really got the behaviours translated perfectly into the game, while others would probably prefer just to stick with a much more lovable and obedient dog. There were multiple times where a cat would ignore me unless I was offering it food, which was a bit disappointing. Just like in real life, right cat owners? Still, variety is good, and it’s great to see cats added to the game.
The voice recognition technology is very well developed, with some complex words being picked up without any trouble at all, which is a nice change from the usual voice recognition in some other titles. There were even some moments where I felt as though the dogs recognised my face and reacted much more favourably to me than before. Completion of certain tasks, such as fetch or obedience tasks, nets the player money with which they can purchase food as well as accessories to dress up their pet. In an even better twist, Nintendogs + Cats utilises the extended functionality of the 3DS in a rather novel way. When the game is placed into sleep mode, the pedometer is put into play, and the more steps players take, your pet will not only be much happier but also shower you with gifts upon your return. The game also uses StreetPass too, where if players passes by a nearby owner, their pet will not only make friends with yours, but also provide gifts if their friendship is strong enough. Sometimes a “copy” of the passer-by is added to your game for your puppy/kitten to play with too. It seems like a pretty “lite” feature but it’s the most mature way to utilise both these functions of the 3DS without seeming too gimmicky.
Players can also take their pet for a walk, and control the leash so that players can “nudge” a dog off certain actions if they don’t want them doing it (or just to pick up the pace). It’s during this mode that players can also interact with other pets and build friendships, which makes your pet much happier in the long run. These are nice little diversions from the general gameplay but they are still pretty shallow and won’t keep the more hardcore players busy for very long – but then again this game is not really for them. In general, the game’s difficulty level is not very high at all, with most of the tasks being easily passed and many of the rewards being in large numbers when you compare them to the amount of effort they involve. Sometimes I found myself getting pretty addicted to collecting or “learning” tricks for my pet, in particular almost dying with the daily limit of tricks impeding my temporary addiction. It’s a nice and clever way to prolong the life of the title.
There’s a good amount of use of the 3DS’s features, particularly the AR Cards and the 3D cameras, with the AR Cards being not only being used as the “stage” for your competition show offs, but also allowing players to show off their pets in similar fashion to the star cards that come packaged with the console. Ever wanted to take a photo of your puppy near your computer, or even on your shoulder? Nintendogs + Cats now allows you to do so (and even in 3D if you wish). Of course, players can take snapshots and save them to an SD card at any point with a touch of the shoulder button. It’s very simple and is bound to be a hit with the casual audience.
Of course, as you’d expect, there’s not a huge aural presence in Nintendogs + Cats , with only a few cutesy and simplistic tracks playing sometimes while you play, and a whole bunch of random purs and yaps from your pets.
Probably one of the biggest questions that people will have about Nintendogs + Cats is just how much more is new enough, and whether it really warrants another purchase for those who sunk so many hours into the original game. This is also one of the hardest questions to answer. On one hand, there’s heaps of stuff to collect throughout the game, and this provides a rather sizeable chunk of gameplay; but on the other, many people who’ve played Nintendogs before will really have no real reason to return to the game unless they want to try their luck with cats, and you’ll probably be disappointed if that’s the case.
Nintendogs + Cats is a very competent launch title that is bound to be a hit with the casual crowd, and maybe even some softer hardcore gamers. Those who love either cats or dogs will appreciate the remarkable accuracy that their virtual counterparts possess, and those who want a cruisy, laid back gaming experience are bound to enjoy it too. It’s just a shame that anyone who has played the original Nintendogs will probably have trouble wanting to return to this one again – sometimes it really does feel like a case of “NOW WITH NEW CAT!”. Despite my issues with Nintendogs + Cats, it’s still a nice title that utilises almost all of the new features of the Nintendo 3DS, and I must commend Nintendo for doing that.
Nintendogs + Cats: Toy Poodle & New Friends was tested for this review.
It is obvious were going to see great things from the 3DS, and this is only the beginning. Fur texturing and animations are amazing, while some environments look a little bland. The 3D effect is used as good as it could be, providing depth to environments and developing a proper sense of distance between you and your pet.
Theres not a whole lot of gameplay in Nintendogs + Cats per se, but rather a more casual/social experience. Still, the teaching of tricks and involvement in competitions makes for good distractions. Just dont expect a huge difficulty level.
Theres not a whole lot to say here, theres a few nice pieces here and there. Of course, there are all kinds of purrs and yapps from your pets, but they might get annoying after a while.
Nintendogs + Cats is one of those games that has heaps to do, but only as much as you are willing to put into it. The use of the pedometer and Streetpass are nice additions that fully utilise the 3DSs functionality.
Im very honest and open to admitting that Nintendogs + Cats is not aimed at my demographic at all, however despite this, I had a lot of fun with my pet and teaching him all his tricks.