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Nintendogs: Chihuahua & Friends (DS) artwork

Nintendogs: Chihuahua & Friends (DS) review

"Nintendogs is, if you will, a virtual pet simulator. It lets you choose your very own companion among quite a large selection of different dogs. You can name it, walk it, play with it, wash it, pet it, teach it tricks, enter it in competitions... and pretty much everything you can do with a real dog. The game is perfectly fitted for the DS, making brilliant use of all of its features. "

Nintendogs is, if you will, a virtual pet simulator. It lets you choose your very own companion among quite a large selection of different dogs. You can name it, walk it, play with it, wash it, pet it, teach it tricks, enter it in competitions... and pretty much everything you can do with a real dog. The game is perfectly fitted for the DS, making brilliant use of all of its features.

Using the microphone, you can give a name to your dog, which will be recorded and remembered by the dog, and by then calling your dog's name, the dog will come to you every time you call it. If you throw a frisbee at your dog and then call it, it will bring the frisbee back to you. The microphone is also used to teach tricks to your dog, which can learn up to 14 different tricks. You'll first need to show the dog how the trick is done, then once it has learned it, you can record a word for the trick, and every time you will say that word, the dog will perform the trick associated with the word. The word you record the trick as can be anything, for instance, "Sit" can be "Zif" if you want and "Lie down" can be "Weej", it really doesn't matter.

Then there's of course the touchscreen, which makes the game what it is. The whole game is played with the touchscreen, in sort that you never need to use the buttons. This feature brings the game one big step ahead from all other pet simulators as you can actually touch your dog, which is responsible to the action you take. If you pet it, it'll be happy, if you hold its tails, it'll start running after it, etc. There are a lot of different things you can do with the dogs.

You can have up to 3 dogs at the same time in the house with you, as well as 5 more stored in the dog hotel, which can be switched at any time. Although you start the game with a limited number of breeds, you can afterwards unlock all the different breeds by gaining Trainer Points, which can be obtained by walking your dog and entering it in competitions.

Unlocking the other dogs is in fact the primarily goal of the game, as in reality, it doesn't have any other goal. The dogs sure are cute, but having to take care of them everyday rapidly becomes a chore. When you first get the game, you'll quickly become attached to these cute puppies, but after only a few minutes, once you've discovered all of the game's features, it can get boring. Because the game uses the real-time feature, it requires you to feed the dogs everyday, or else they will turn up against you, resulting in a loss of your precious Trainer Points. Although the fun is over quickly, the game still have a few things to keep you coming back. There is a large number of objects to collect in the game, which your dog randomly finds on walks. It varies from accessories like hats, collars and sunglasses for your dog to more diverse items like toys, tapes, music boxes... The collecting aspect of the game is pretty fun, it's always pleasant to find a new item.

The game also wouldn't have all of its charm if it wasn't of the impressive graphic engine. The dogs are so realistic that you just can't not fall in love with them. I was blown away by the animation of the dogs, which just look, move and act like real dogs. The same can't be said about the fuzzy backgrounds though, constantly covered with fog to hide the poor draw-distance and inexistent textures. Hopefully the dogs also sound like real dogs, with all the barks and cute sounds that come with them. The game also implements a few good music samples, although nothing memorable. Some of the few tunes the game contains become old quickly, although you can choose your own music tracks.

Surprisingly, I found myself having more fun with the side features of the game than with the game itself. There is a blank tape in the game that lets you record your voice and then lets you modify it by changing it to a high or loud voice, and you can then use these weird and funny sounds with the keyboard in the game to play music with it. I had a lot more fun with this feature than with the dogs. It's simply not a game for everyone, just like not everyone has the patience to take care of a tamagotchi.

Nintendogs is to date the best virtual pet game you can get, but that doesn't mean you have to get it. If you don't like pet simulators, Nintendogs won't make you change your mind. It's still the same sort of game that gets old after 5 minutes of play, even with the brilliant use of the microphone and touchscreen. The dogs are adorable, graphically impressive and the whole concept works like a charm, but once you're done drooling over the realism of the dogs, there's just nothing else to do with the game.

Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Music/Sounds 7
Replay Value 6

wishingtikal's avatar
Community review by wishingtikal (January 09, 2006)

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