The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
My first few hours of playing Nintendogs + Cats was so dominated by a
feeling of déjà vu that I went in the Game Informer vault and pulled out
the original. It turns out my gut was right – there are precious few
differences between the two. You get a dog at the kennel and start
training it, with breaks for feeding, baths, and going on walks. As
before, you can enter competitions; the only new one is a simplistic
lure competition where you turn a crank to move a fuzzy lure down a
series of ropes to guide your dog through a roped off race course. Once
again, you are very limited in what you can do each day – a couple of
competitions and a handful of new tricks are all your dog has the energy
for. That’s true-to-life, but aggravating from a player’s perspective.
course, there are lots of little touches like new side areas to explore
while on walks, the ability to rotate the camera around your puppy
while petting or bathing it, new design motifs and furniture to buy for
your house, and being able to trade items with other owners via the 3DS
StreetPass. Welcome additions all, but so minor in impact that the game
feels like little more than a graphically enhanced version of the first.
I did appreciate the improved voice recognition, which made teaching
tricks less frustrating.
The addition of cats to the franchise
also falls flat. Cats aren’t very malleable; you can’t teach them tricks
or take them for a walk. Mostly, they do their own thing, purring when
you pet them, eating when they are hungry, and playing with various toys
like a feather lure or a bubble ring. However, watching them hiss and
bat at your puppy is amusing.
By far the biggest improvement over
the original Nintendogs is the presentation. The dogs and cats are
animated beautifully, and show nice subtleties like realistic fur
texturing and responsive eye tracking. The most fun I had with the game
came at times when I was just watching my cat and dog play and fight.
However, I’m not sure that’s a good thing for a video game, which should
be interactive above all else.
The 3D effects aren’t terribly
impressive, but that’s more down to the very simple and static
environments in the game. The trick competitions are done with AR Cards,
so you must set one down on a table and view a 3D image of your dog
through the unit’s camera. It’s a nice visual effect, but also means you
have to have an AR Card with you if you want to participate in them.
+ Cats definitely retains the inescapable charm of its predecessor, and I
expect that will be enough for many of the younger and casual fans
loved the first. For me, I expect more than marginal improvements after a
Email the author Matt Helgeson, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.