Dogs are widely considered to be a great friend of man – in fact, some would go so far as to call the species man's best friend. Known for their obedience and constant attention, they make a perfect model for a virtual pet. It's no coincidence then that Petz Dogz Family is the best of the DSiWare series.
Like its feline and rodent predecessors, this is a casual and simple title intended for a very young audience. There's not much to do with your pet besides feed it, play with it and watch it walk around, poop by a bush and generally look adorable.
The minigames are a vast improvement for the series. There are still only two of them, but both are actually fun and make sense for a dog to play. Flying Disc sees you throw a Frisbee across a yard using the stylus, trying to aim for strategically placed multiplier icons. Your pup will even engage in some canine parkour if necessary, climbing onto the rooftop to catch the disc. Then there's Agility, an obstacle course through which your dog leaps, climbs and serpentines, performed by tapping a button on the bottom screen whenever prompted.
Unfortunately, these amusements have their share of imperfections. It's difficult to launch your Frisbee with much precision, and there's almost no telling how well your dog will perform. The relative lack of control in Agility also gets tiresome after a while. Your canine's skill is determined by a talent potential rating when it's born, unfairly limiting the number of stars awarded after the first round. Once this number is set, you can only fill in the available slots. You can never gain more stars in either game, making one of your only goals – unlocking the talent stadium – an overly difficult and tedious task that reveals itself as more of the same, only allowing you to play the existing amusements in a different setting.
The confusing, borderline nonsensical feeding process from past Petz DSiWare titles returns here, forcing you to mix two types of food together that ostensibly affect your luck at mini-games. Other familiar faults resurface as well: you can pet your pup, but it never reacts differently regardless of where on its body you do so, and while you can breed two adult animals together you're still disturbingly allowed to mate parents and children.
Presentation-wise, the game is bright and amusing; the animals are cute while the environments are interesting and even complex, at least for a Petz title. The music is cheerful as well, though the clicking sound that your dog makes when he walks around can grate. The menus are simple and easy to navigate, but the goods that you can buy at the store are far too similar to one another to make much of a difference. The graphics in Flying Disc are disappointingly unpolished as well, both the Frisbee and your pet defying the laws of physics and performing jerky animations all too frequently.
The game's downfall, however, as with all other DSiWare Petz games, is its lack of variety. Your puppy becomes an adult but with almost no discernible changes, and there are only three breeds to choose from, all of which act identically. Animations are limited in volume and you'll grow tired of seeing the same ones time and time again. While the environments that your dog inhabits and in which it plays are interesting enough, there are too few, and it won't be long before you're bored of running the same obstacle course repeatedly.
While its components are far more fun and appealing than previous iterations in the DSiWare Petz series, there are just too few of them and too many issues along the way in the game's often imprecise controls and confusing design mechanics. We can recommend this for a very young audience, but ultimately there's too little on offer here to make for more than a below average experience.