Game: Nintendogs: Chihuahua and Friends | Nintendogs: Dachshund and Friends | Nintendogs: Labrador and Friends | Nintendogs: Best Friends
Platform: Nintendo DS
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: EU: 10/07/05, JP: 04/21/05, NA: 08/22/05
Genre: Pet-raising simulation
ESRB: E
Players: 1-2

I haven't owned a pet simulator since Dogz for the PC. I wasn't sure what to expect from Nintendogs*, but I was pleasantly surprised at this cute, quirky title. There are three versions of this game, but the only differences between versions are the breeds available to start with and optional item availability (exclusive items can be traded a la Pokémon, however). All breeds can be unlocked with time, so if you can't train a Corgi from the start, save a slot (you can have three active and five inactive), and you can get one a little later.

The breeds available are:

Gameplay: Nintendogs really shines in the gameplay department. The use of the stylus and built-in microphone to interact with your puppies feels so much more real than just pressing buttons that a real bond can be made between the player and the virtual pet. If you want to get your dog's attention, you can actually talk to it and call it by name. The controls are intuitive enough that just about anybody can pick up this game and play. Multiplayer, or "Bark Mode" allows your virtual pups to play with your friend's puppies. This gives your dog another outlet to socialize and net you more points toward opening up newer breeds. It's also just plain cute to watch the puppies play together.

Fun Factor: Nintendogs's puppies are cute and friendly, and they make you want to spend some time with them. There are competitions to enter, and it's rewarding to teach your puppy new tricks and commands. It's also entertaining to watch your puppies interact with one another, friend's pets, and you. The interaction feels genuine, and it's fun to watch or participate in the puppies's playtime.

Graphics and Sound: The puppies look fairly real (especially for a handheld). The graphics as a whole are adequate. They don't get in the way of the fun, and you never forget what you're doing because you catch yourself just looking at the game. The sound is good. I enjoyed the music, but there isn't enough of it. The only complaint I have with the sound is that the barks sound artificial. It's a small nitpick because the barks are artificial, but it's the only nit I have.

Replayability: Firstly, replayability is completely unnecessary in Nintendogs. Each day can bring something new as the game is open ended. If you do choose to start over with a new puppy, though, it can be a bit tedious to teach the dog all of the tricks and commands again. The only reason I can think of to replay this title is to enter the contests again. Other than that, I would recomend just playing with your current dog. Besides, you'll build a rapport with it, and it'll be hard to erase your pup and start over!

Overall: 8.5/10 Nintendogs is definitely one of the strongest titles the DS has to offer. I recommend it to all DS owners that are simulation fans, dog fans, and especially to those who are fans of both. This title really showcases the stylus and mic controls. It can be quick, and it's difficult to put down once you get into it.


Update (10/20/05): Nintendogs has proven to be so popular that a new edition, Nintendogs: Best Friends is planned for an 10/24/05 release. The new edition will feature the most popular breeds from the original three titles, and it will be sold bundled with either pink or teal DSs. This colorful DS puppy bundle will cost $150 USD.


Sources:

*I wasn't sure what to expect because I didn't read any reviews prior to reserving this game. EB was running a promo where you could trade any 3 GBA titles for Nintendogs, and I just happened to have 3 GBA carts I no longer wanted.

Agreed, this is a great game... with quite a few challenges. Especially teaching your dogs some tricks. I can be heard sometimes spending up to ten minutes reinforcing old tricks, otherwise exploring new tricks. Here is a list of all the basic (!) tricks, plus a few advanced ones. I will update every time I find a new one.

Basic

  1. Sit. This is the first trick your puppy should learn, and it is explained to you when you start the game. When your puppy is standing in front of you, touch its head and drag the stylus down. Your puppy should sit down.
  2. Down. When your puppy is sitting, drag the stylus down its head again. It should lie down.
  3. Shake. When your puppy is standing, lift up its front paw (either one, but make sure it's the same one every time) for a couple of seconds. Your puppy will not move, but the light bulb in the top-right-hand corner will appear all the same.
  4. Play Dead and Roll Over.
    • When your puppy is lying down, touch its back and drag towards either side. It should roll onto its side.
    • When it is playing dead, roll the stylus over it again, in the same direction. It should roll onto its back.
  5. Spin. Not easy with corgis and other dogs with short tails. Grab its tail and hold it for about three seconds. Your dog should hold still while you are holding it, then chase its own tail.
  6. Wag and Jump. A little more complex. When your dog starts shaking its butt in the air, touch the light bulb. Teach it to wag its tail. (Not politically correct, I know, but that's what I did.) Then, next time it wags on its own, tap the air above your puppy's head. If it doesn't jump, don't worry. Patience.
  7. Beg. The hardest of the basic tricks. Make sure your dog is well adjusted to you, otherwise it may not learn the trick. When your puppy is standing, drag the stylus from its belly (the little bit that you can see) up past its head. Sometimes your puppy will shake its head, and other times it will lift both paws in the air for about half a second. Give it time.

Advanced/Other

  1. Dance. When your puppy is begging, slowly drag its front paw up. It should stand on its hind legs and then start to jiggle a little.
  2. Sneeze. Yes, you can actually get your dogs to sneeze on command! It can do it in either of three positions, so make sure you do it from the same position each time. Simply tap its nose with the stylus.
  3. Back Flip. A combination of two tricks, this will probably not work until your dog has passed Expert level in obedience trials. Tell your dog to sit, then jump.
  4. Hand Stand. Again, should not be tried for a little while. Tell your dog to lie down, then beg.

Will write more as I find them. (The game is awesome!)

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