Playing fetch is a great way to bond with a canine companion. There's nothing like going to the park on a nice summer day and tossing a ball for your favorite four legged friend. When you first hear of a DSiWare release based on this you might imagine that you'll be guiding a puppy along with the stylus, avoiding obstacles and retrieving balls. That's exactly what you'll be doing in Go Fetch!. However, you might not be able to imagine how to keep such an activity fresh throughout an entire game, so maybe throw in some power ups, or a timer in each level? Perhaps give the puppy a life bar? Would these features add up to a few hours of enjoyable puppy playtime?
Things get repetitive quickly, mainly because the balls are thrown at set locations in each level. Because you're racing a timer, it becomes a matter of how quickly you can memorise the pattern. In the early levels you might not even have to glance at the bottom screen where the game is played, you could likely finish a level just by referencing the map displayed on the top screen. The difficulty picks up in the latter part of the game, but mostly due to the mushy controls.
One of the best things about having a touchscreen and stylus is the level of precision it can offer, but this is not the case in Go Fetch. As you guide the puppy along you'll have to avoid obstacles like pigeons and flower pots to find the ball. If you find yourself in a tight spot between an obstacle and a wall, a horrible pattern of defeat happens almost every time because the controls aren't precise enough to allow you to escape. The end result is the poor puppy hitting the obstacles until its health bar runs out. This scenario occurs all too often, usually leading to an eventual loss and having to restart the level. It feels cheap because you should be able to nimbly navigate the puppy out of a bad position, and you can't. Another oddity of the controls is that you can tap the puppy to make it jump, which rarely comes in handy, except to hop over puddles and potholes. You can't interact with the environment in any way, so trying to jump over a low fence or take a shortcut by climbing the slide at the playground isn't possible. Most players will have an instinct to experiment with this, only to be disappointed that their puppy can't hop over anything except the occasional hole in the ground.
The challenge mode is unlocked by completing portions of the main game, and is slightly more fun. There are three activities available: collecting a number of balls in a certain sequence, fetching as many as you can in a set amount of time and completing a level without making a mistake. These break up the monotonous gameplay a bit, but are still just slight variations of the main activity. There are also two additional breeds of puppy to unlock as you progress through the game, but they are barely distinguishable from each other so it's not a great incentive to keep playing.
Surprisingly, the non-interactive environments are quite appealing and full of life. They are brilliantly coloured and form interesting mazes to navigate, and each stage offers a unique musical track to add a little more atmosphere.Your puppy itself isn't brilliantly animated, though, and you can hardly tell what sort of breed it is. In additional to its awkward appearance, the way it runs seems off, as if its legs are moving too fast to be going so slow, leading to the game feeling sloppy and out of sync.
While there are many things wrong with Go Fetch!, a small minority still might find an enjoyable experience here. There is a certain thrill to completing a level against the timer, and it’s pretty fun to guide the puppy through a narrow passage without knocking him into anything. The controls are flat-out bad, but at least the stages are animated nicely. Maybe taking your own real life dog outside and tossing the ball around with it is a better option if you’re up for a good round of fetch.