Nintendogs DS Review

This shouldn't be fun. It's obvious to anyone playing it that this should not work. It's going to be a guilty pleasure to some and unforgettable classic for others. That's the Nintendo hook with Nintendogs, an impossibly good title that uses everything the DS has to offer, with at times mixed results.

Coming in three forms, the three breeds that adorn the individual covers only change the starting puppy choices. Everything is the same otherwise. You start by buying a puppy, naming it, and entering it into competitions for cash. This is an expanded virtual pet; one of those crazes everyone thought died off years ago. However, this is Nintendo, and their programming team is nothing short of brilliant for pulling off some of the things here.

There is a variety of tasks to do with your new dog (who will never age or die). You can walk him/her, play with toys, give baths, buy new surroundings, and meet up with other Nintendogs owners wirelessly for socializing. It's all done with the touch screen interface, with an easy to understand menu system.

That works great. The microphone does not. Simply naming your dog, which MUST be spoken, can be the game's biggest challenge. It doesn't work some times, and for seemingly random reasons. It's aggravating. Other commands, such as training, all need to be taught as well, and entirely via the microphone.

Aside from looking stupid as you yell at your DS to call your new puppy, it's sensitivity, even when set low, picks up everything. In a car ride, it's impossible to communicate because of outside noise, killing the portability and confusing your dog. In a public place, you're restricted more. In bed before falling asleep, no one else in the house will appreciate the noise. There's little reason why all of these tasks couldn't have been assigned via a menu.

That's the most obvious problem with the title, and yet it doesn't stop the addictive nature. This is the type of game that will sap hours of your life if you're caught in its grip. Training for the big competitions is a blast, and entering them even more fun, aside from the cheesy announcers. The secrets are numerous as well, and that's going to keep people busy for some time as they dissect it.

Nintendogs other weapon is the cuteness factor. With limited polygons spent on backgrounds, everything is left to create the lifelike animals. It's not just how they look, but how they move. As ridiculous as it sounds, it's not hard to believe that these are real dogs. They look that incredible on either of the two screens, and their movement as they roll around is undeniably adorable.

While it's not a complete success, the combination of cute puppies, technology, and (for what ever reason) fun factor is too much to stop playing this. That's assuming you can teach the dog anything with your voice. The inevitable sequel or follow up needs to correct that sole issue, and if it does, Nintendogs 2 could be one of the broadest reaching titles since The Sims.

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