nintendogs (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 30.09.2005

Review for nintendogs on Nintendo DS

There is a little Nintendo DS game that not many of you will have heard about called nintendogs. Oh wait that is a pure lie as nearly the whole world has had its head drilled with the canine caring simulation by now. Now it is due to hit Europe on 7th October and after an extensive play-test Cubed3 is about to bring you the final opinion on this ‘revolutionary’ title.

Behind a great leader there is always a strong foundation and with nintendogs the idea supporting the new phenomenon stems back to an early 1990s craze that swept the entire population of Earth. The game that was not really a game, was none other than Bandai's Tamagotchi pet simulator. Many hours would be spent molly-coddling little bundles of pixels, which normally died anyway after a set period of time. It proved to be a major money-spinner that fuelled the company through that decade. Now, though, Nintendo has gone not just one, but about fifty steps further in bringing its own take on the genre to the market. Not only is the aim to enamour current gamers, but attract those who would not normally give videogames the time of day!

Screenshot for nintendogs on Nintendo DS

On a graphical basis, there is not much to look at in all honesty, but it has to be remembered that Nintendo is a clever company. Therefore, what there actually is in nintendogs is sparkling. One look at the various screenshots will show how lifelike the mutts included actually are. Playing around and petting the dogs really does feel like the real thing thanks to the realism poured into the character models. But that would mean nothing if the appropriate reactions were not all present and correct, or the speed of the game was snail-like. Luckily each dog will wander round on its own, rest, scratch itself, play with others and look totally content when being stroked, with nothing chugging along in the slightest at any point. The only other aspects to be considered are the competition graphics and the actual interiors, all of which look the part. No complaints at all...

Now, it would be extremely unfair to criticise nintendogs for having a weak soundtrack, which is kind of does have, mainly because the focus is not meant to be on the musical side at all. There are some peaceful little ditties and cute melodies that play when playing around or taking the dog for a walk, but the créme de la créme comes from the voice recognition. The microphone is put to superb use, with you only having to hold the DS at normal arm’s length to talk clearly into it whilst being recognised. There really is no need to hold the system close to your mouth and shout! The game will clearly repeat your voice when the puppy is learning and this alone deserves plaudits.

Screenshot for nintendogs on Nintendo DS

In fact, the microphone plays an integral role in the entire game, with nintendogs being rendered completely pointless if you fail to master using the mic to teach your dog new tricks. What you have to remember is that the basics of Tamagotchi's animal caring are included in nintendogs, with the exception of it being a Nintendo game, so no death will occur no matter how badly you treat your 'friend for life'. But first things first, you must get to know your new pet. The game starts you off by choosing a name for the dog and having you teach it to him. Therefore, whilst the dog is running around your abode calling the name you typed in using the stylus will eventually get his attention. Each time you tap on his little thought light bulb that appears and repeat the name clearly, he will show recognition until you repeat it enough times and he will eventually memorise it. Therefore, anytime you call the same name he will bark and run up to the screen! Good boy, Raz...

But you have to care for the little guy, get him to actually like you by calling his name and then rewarding him by rubbing his head, tickling under his ears or scratching his belly. All of this adds up to breaking Raz in and making sure that he I more loyal to you as time passes by. It also helps when teaching them new tricks faster. Some of the basic moves you can teach include sitting, lying down, on its side and rolling onto its back. Getting them to learn simple tricks proves easy as, for instance, sitting down involves you putting the stylus point on the dog's head and dragging it downwards. Once done, the dog will sit and the light bulb will appear again. Tap on it and before the timer runs down speak into the mic saying whatever you like – ‘sit’, ‘sit down’, ‘on your arse’ are all popular choices for that particular move! Others involve trickier stylus manoeuvres, but once it recognises your voice after continuous repetition then you will not have to do the stylus moves again.

Why bother doing all of the moves, though? Well, there is the sheer pleasure and satisfaction of seeing Raz responding to your commands, giving you a sense of dominance and self-pride for one thing. But there is also the fact that once enough tricks have been learned, you can get Raz to take part in the competitions available, such as an obedience test where you are given a set amount of moves to pull off in order to see how well-trained you have managed to get Raz to be. Then there is an obstacle course, which tests your control and events where you can tryout your Frisbee throwing skills. Taking part in these is not only fun, but garner you more funds and increase your trainer rating, standing you in better stead for the future.

Screenshot for nintendogs on Nintendo DS

Some of you might be sitting there thinking that none of this sounds remarkably engaging, and in some cases even boring. However, little additions such as being able to improve the decorative aspect of your house, buy accessories to dress Raz up in (3D spectacles look strange, but raise a smile, for example) and extra toys that have your set of dogs going crazy add to the whole experience. And that is exactly what nintendogs is, an experience to behold. Sure you can teach your dog to jump by petting him to make him happy and then tapping at the top of the screen, and so on, but there is so much more to nintendogs. And it is all played in real time, and leaving them DOES have an effect, as I found out. Three weeks of neglect meant they would not respond to their names at first and they were covered in fleas! Not nice...It is THAT real! And you can even interact with other gamers' dogs via a wireless connection, which is a welcome little addition. A truly complete package!

In theory nintendogs will last you a lifetime, but in all reality 'at least until you get bored' is a fairer comment and nobody would seriously be able to keep the game going for that long, obviously (...)! You can build up your repertoire of dogs, play various games with them, discover new treasures whilst taking them for walks, enter a variety of different competitions, use your funds to do some interior decorating, purchase new toys, food, drink, grooming items, meet with friends wirelessly and so on and so forth. It is amazing how much time can be spent just throwing a Frisbee around, however the game might not grab everyone quite as hard as this, so the length might just vary depending on the person, but you can never please everyone, right?

Screenshot for nintendogs on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

And there we have it, one of the most fulfilling experiences on the Nintendo DS to date. Whilst you may initially think this will not be for you (just like I did, being the cynical old fool that I am – AND a cat lover), giving it a proper whirl in private conditions – loud venues are certainly not appropriate – will suck you in and not let you go! Join the revolution…









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (15 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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