Review: Petz Catz Family (DSiWare)

It's a cat-astrophe!!

Petz has been around for a long time. Starting back in 1995, it saw a big reboot back in 2006 and has since seen multiple titles spanning all the way from mobile phones to the PS2, and are generally set around raising one particular type of virtual animal, such as a hamster or a kitten. The DS is no stranger to the series, having seen several retail releases as well as a couple of DSiWare releases including Petz Dogz Family and Petz Hamsterz, which weren't well received. This isn't the first cat-themed Petz game to hit the service however, which was Petz Kittens, a game we also thought poorly of and sadly, Petz Catz Family (Petz Cat Superstar in Europe) is a similar story.

The game starts off with you choosing the cat you wish to raise from the shop. At first, there are only a couple of breeds available but as you raise your cat, you will unlock more that can be purchased. The cats will then show you their emotions in a thought bubble, ranging from sleepy, hungry, whether they want to play or be stroked, as well as if they don't want.

This may not sound too bad on paper as long as you bear in mind that the game has been designed for kids, but its execution is rather flawed and doesn't seem to have advanced much from Petz Kittens. For example, in Kittens, there was an issue in that the cat can't seem to tell the difference across its body about where it's being stroked. It's exactly the same story here as before, which is disappointing. Another problem is that when the moggies wonder around, they often seem to be stuck in a set path to walk along and you have no ability to try and control the movements, removing any playfulness from them. There's also an odd restriction in that you can only give them a maximum of six letters in your cat's name, meaning many popular cat names are out the window.

To raise your cat, you must play the minigames in order to raise your “Skillz” bar. There's a small set of mini-games available, including an obstacle course where you do several little touchscreen games as you advance through it. As you go through these, you earn “Coinz”, which you can use to buy more cats, food and new minigames, and there's also a “Talent Stadium” to unlock when you have a pet with enough Skillz.

Unfortunately these games soon become dull: feeding, for example, requires you to mix ingredients together by going around in circles on the DS touchscreen with the stylus. While the controls are generally fine for the minigames, after a couple of playthroughs, they become repetitive after a while, with feeding just feeling unresponsive.

One of the very few new features to be added to the game is a breeding feature. It's very simple, as once you've reached the point on the Skillz bar for your cat to grow up, and at least two of them have reached this stage, they can then begin to breed. However, you can only do this three times for each cat and because you can only have four cats at a time, this will require you to either sell one of your older cats or get rid of the newborn to the shop.

Graphically, the game is at best very average. The cat designs for in-game are quite rough around the edges here and the number of animations available is also pretty limited. Audio isn't anything special here, just a small set of tunes to accompany the game that is rather generic. On top of that, there's just a small set of recycled sound clips for the game, such as the cat's meowing which is rather annoying.

Conclusion

While younger gamers may find some entertainment, for those of you looking for a decent pet simulator we'd strongly recommend looking elsewhere. At an 800 Point price tag, some very dull minigames and sub-par graphics, Petz Cat Superstars is very hard to recommend.