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Nintendogs + Cats

For: 3DS
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Man's best friend?

Product: Nintendogs + Cats | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: 3DS | Genre: Virtual Pet/ Toy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Nintendogs + Cats 3DS, thumbnail 1
The DS versions of Nintendo's canine simulator Nintendogs were among the most popular games on the system. The callow young Pocket Gamer even admitted at the time, "we've fallen in love with the game".

For the launch of the 3DS, Nintendo has updated the premise to showcase some of the new hardware features of the console, making everything prettier. It's also added felines to the mix.

Is Nintendogs + Cats a prize-winning thoroughbred, or has Nintendo left us a present on the carpet?

You start the game with a choice of nine dogs (with 27 unlockable in total). It's not actually until later on that you unlock the cats, so if you're a cat obsessive you're going to have to grind through a few hours of dog training and competitions before you can afford one of the three breeds of cat from the kennels.

Despite their equal billing in the title, the cats are more like a bonus than a central feature of the game. Nintendogs + Cats is still very much a canine event.

It's also a doddle. Rather than letting you get to know your pet and take sole responsibility for its welfare, the game constantly provides a helping hand in the form of text popups telling you when it's hungry, thirsty, or tired.

It's nice to know that Nintendo is keen to avoid virtual animal mistreatment, but a more demanding simulation might make for a more rewarding experience.

Time for walkies

Among the features taking advantage of the new 3DS hardware is StreetPass integration. Mii characters collected using the StreetPass system can be seen with their pets when you go out for a walk in the game.

There are also several modes that use the AR cards, allowing you to, for example, take stereoscopic 3D photos with your pets superimposed on them and use the character cards bundled with the console to give them classic Nintendo character outfits.

You can now train pets to follow voice commands, instructing them to sit, beg, or perform other tricks. Thanks to some fussy voice detection you'll have to speak very clearly to get the game to recognise certain words.

The 3DS is a graphical powerhouse compared to the elderly DS, and it really shows in Nintendogs + Cats. The house you live in is beautifully rendered, the animals are all convincingly animated, and the 3D effect is well-suited to the relatively slow-moving backgrounds.

Prize pooches

The game contains three simple mini-games in the form of competitions.

Disc has you throwing a frisbee for your pet to catch, awarding you points depending how far you throw it. Lure Coursing is a race, where you pace your pet by pulling in a reel. Obedience Trial tests how well your pet will follow your instructions, and uses the AR cards.

If you do well in the competitions, you get cash prizes which you can use to buy supplies for your pets and unlock new breeds. Each competition has five leagues with ascending cash prizes.

As you might expect, your pet will be inept at the competitions at first - you'll need to practise at the park before having a chance of winning.

Portable puppy paradise

If you like the sound of prodding and poking a virtual dog for a while every day, then there's plenty in Nintendogs + Cats to keep you entertained, and all sorts of accessories and breeds to unlock.

Nintendo has made great use of the new 3DS hardware, even if this is largely an improved rehash of an already popular game.

It's a solid choice from the launch line-up for casual gamers and animal lovers, but players looking for something a bit more demanding should probably venture elsewhere, and those expecting a revolution will be disappointed.
Nintendogs + Cats
Reviewer photo
Lewie Procter | 25 March 2011
The cat selection is disappointingly limited, and it will be very familiar to players of the earlier entries, but this is shinier, more feature packed, and - of course - three-dimensional than any of the previous Nintendogs games
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