there wasn’t much grabbing me among the 3DS’s launch titles, so the first game i bought was a bit random: nintendogs + cats, specifically the golden retriever version. i’d enjoyed its predecessor on DS, and from the reviews i really wasn’t expecting much from the release aside from improved and 3-D graphics. (if you’re not familiar with the original you can find a run-down of all this game’s features at superphillip central.)
despite the irresistible cuteness of my new dog max and a bit later my equally cute cat genji, the game was almost exactly what i expected: a safe sequel, with only minor changes to the formula, but with just enough differences and new features to keep me entertained to the “end” (winning the highest rank in all three competitions). the game’s two major changes are a shift from a 3rd- to a 1st-person perspective to emphasize the 3-D graphics in walks and the agility trial. the latter has been replaced with a lure course in which you just have to reel in a lure for your puppy to chase after; it definitely doesn’t require as much effort as before, but it’s not completely mindless either. the obedience trial completely unnecessarily requires you to use your AR card (which, as most people know, has the mildly annoying side effect of causing the image to jump around), but otherwise that and the frisbee competition are pretty much the same as before. there are a few more tricks and some variation in the locales where you can take your walks, and it’s notably easier to unlock breeds since you can do so just by playing the game regularly (supposedly consecutive days in a row).
in terms of additions, being able to own a cat was about as minor a change as i’d expected. the spotpass DLC in the form of presidents and their pets that also come with a special item is more worthwhile (although the downside is that after you get them you’ll repeatedly run into them on your walks), and the streetpass feature allows you to meet other owners and earn items based on the steps you take. the most effective addition is the ability to take snapshots at any time within the game, a feature that i’ve noted before is becoming part of nintendo’s new standard and is as addictive as you’d expect.
all in all i enjoyed having this as my mindless relaxation game, although i’m not sure i’d be up for a 3rd go around without a significantly different experience. although knowing me and no doubt what nintendo is banking on, in five years time or so i’ll probably be ready to be slobbered on by another adorable virtual pet.
chew on these nintendogs + cats links:
– the nintendogs wiki has a lot of useful information including info on what owner points unlock, what items you can get from the pedometer feature, and what’s been released through spotpass. it looks like a fair amount of info was taken from this site which also has a handy table on version-exclusive items.
– nintendo of america tweeted this entertaining series of pics of a nintendog at the beach
– this guy has some videos of spotpass content