(3DS)

Game Review

Nintendogs + Cats Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

New leash on life

The original Nintendogs blew many away upon its release way back in 2006 – here was a game designed to show off the DS in full, with voice recognition, plenty of touchscreen functions and even a communication feature called Bark Mode that let consoles exchange data automatically. Fast forward five years and we've got Nintendogs + Cats, hoping to impress even more than its pet predecessor all those years ago.

The premise remains the same: you pick a dog (cats have to be unlocked) and teach it tricks, take it on walks and enter competitions. The three different versions available — French Bulldog, Golden Retriever and Toy Poodle — only differ in the dog breeds to choose from at the start, and it's worth noting that all the animals can be unlocked in any version through regular play and StreetPass usage.

There's a greater variety within the breeds than before, with different colours, markings and temperaments helping your dog feel more unique. If it's still not personal enough for you, you can accessorise your pet with hats, sunglasses, bows and more, with stacks to unlock and more promised through SpotPass updates in future.

You're encouraged to teach your pet tricks, a simple matter of performing specific touchscreen inputs (outlined in-game) and recording a voice command to go with it. The voice recognition is generally good, as long as you master the ability to repeat your commands at the same speed and pitch every time, but there are instances when your pet won't respond no matter how often you call his or her name. While real-life dog owners will recognise this as part of any pooch's personality, it'll still frustrate some players who want their mutt to be absolutely obedient all the time.

Outside of the home, there are several competitions to enter and hopefully win, with flying disc contests and obedience trials returning with new tweaks. The new lure coursing is an odd one: your dog must race other pooches around a set course, with the touchscreen becoming a fishing reel-style controller used to pull a squeaky mouse away from your racer. The key to success is maintaining a good rotating rhythm on the touchscreen, but you'll likely glean more fun from the other trials.

The flying disc contest puts your dog's Frisbee-catching abilities to the test: you fling the disc, your dog hopefully grabs it, and you score points based on how far the toy travelled as well as bonuses for jumping catches. It sounds basic — it is — but there's a reason owners love throwing things and dogs love bringing them back: it's fun, and it is here too, particularly as your practice pays off and you move up the ranks.

Lastly is the obedience trial, a mode that uses the console's packaged AR cards to place your dog in the real world. After pointing the 3DS cameras at the card, your best friend emerges, ready to show off his or her tricks with specific objectives required to pass. In all honesty, there's no real reason for this to use AR rather than in-game backgrounds, but it's an impressive trick that's sure to impress, particularly when using the character cards.

If you don't want to pressure your pet into performing, you could always just chill out and play with one of the many toys, and this can be just as much fun as any other part of the game. Throwing a boomerang in 3D is one of the coolest things we've done with the 3DS yet, and other toys make good use of the 3D, microphone and touchscreen. There's a real sense of satisfaction that comes with seeing your faithful hound chewing on a rubber bone.

Taking your pet out and about plays slightly differently to the previous title. Rather than planning a route on a top-down map, you leave your front door to walk down a straight street towards... your front door (how this works we'll never know.) You can still control your pet's pace with the lead, luring them towards presents and other pet owners and away from piles of rubbish. Along the way you might come across a gym or park, for practising lure coursing and flying disc respectively, or a café in which to sit down and enjoy a treat with your dog.

If you really want to stretch your legs, you can close your console and take it out in the pedometer mode. Passing certain milestones rewards you with toys and accessories, and with the wireless switch on you can still interact with other 3DS owners in StreetPass mode to exchange presents and messages. It's not much of a leap over the Bark Mode included in the original, but there's more chance of successful connections now that the need to have the game in the console has been removed. Nintendo is also pledging SpotPass updates to send out new items and potentially breeds, so it's worth keeping your wireless switch on.

But of course, it's not all pooch-walking in Nintendogs + Cats, with felines added to the roster due to popular demand. You'll have to win plenty of competitions with a dog first before being able to afford a cat, and even then there are only three specific breeds available to choose from, with some coat distinctions to mix things up a bit.

If you fall on the kitten side of the great pet debate, you'll be pleased to know they're recreated relatively realistically here, as they enjoy lying around, climbing on furniture and generally acting aloof. You can't do as much with the cats as the dogs, but you can at least dress them up in embarrassing outfits, which should please crazy ladies everywhere.

Regardless of your preference, you can immortalise any moment in your companion's life with a constant camera feature: press the icon or tap the shoulder button and you snap a photo, saved automatically to SD, even in 3D if the depth slider is turned up. It's a seemingly small addition, but it's one that lets you share your pet's quirks with anyone, helping to turn them into more than just a virtual pet.

Those who played Nintendogs on Nintendo DS are likely wondering if this new entry in the series is that big an improvement over its predecessor, and it's tough to say. Graphically it's far stronger, with better animation, modelling and fur effects, and the addition of 3D helps to round the animals out to give them some physical presence. Cats may be the title-grabbing enhancement, but they don't make for the most interesting gameplay subjects, and locking them away from the start will irritate some.

Conclusion

Most people who fell in love with their virtual pooch on the DS will happily start a new relationship on 3DS, even with the knowledge it's not made any huge advances in the five years since the first release. Nintendogs + Cats is most successful lovingly recreating the personalities of its animal stars, and even though isn't the quantum leap forward some will want, it'll likely be the pet simulator to beat over the 3DS's lifespan.

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User Comments (49)

Collision_Cat

#1

Collision_Cat said:

Look at that cat glaring at that dog in the banner!
"Why do you get most of the attention in this game?!"

EliPro

#2

EliPro said:

You know, i don't think this game is for m-AWWWWWWWWWWWW WOOK AT DA PUPPYYYYY!!!!!! (Runs and goes to buy it)

Colors

#3

Colors said:

I'm gonna get this game, I never tried the original Nintendogs and the score is probably meant for people who played the original. For me, this will be a fresh and new experience!

TeeJay

#6

TeeJay said:

Question: I have the game but I'm currently training my dog to win competitions, so I don't have enough money for another pet yet. Can you take two dogs for a walk at once now, or do you have to walk them individually like the first game? It's probably the latter, but I just wanted to be sure. :)

grumblebuzzz

#9

grumblebuzzz said:

I bought it today — DON'T YOU JUDGE ME! I AM A MAN! — and I've enjoyed it a bit more than the previous one. I mean, it's very, very similar but kind of takes the little hiccups and mistakes in the first one and fixes them. I also really like the pedometer "walk" mode. I racked up a ton of presents with that today.

zezhyrule

#11

zezhyrule said:

/me pets his real dogs.

Sure they're both in 3D, but with real ones you can smell them!

... :'(

CorbsAdmin

#12

Corbs said:

I bought the French Bulldog one for my wife and I'll admit, I do think it's pretty cool and I plan on playing it as soon as I finish off Steel Diver. :)

And thanks Phil, now I have the sudden urge to watch The Muppet Movie again. :D

Morpheel

#14

Morpheel said:

Thanks for the great review james :)
I just ordered this with my 3DS bonus (with a 3DS dog puppet case to match!).
Great to see you all like the game. It makes me feel easier on my choice.

As a fan of the original game, I can't wait to play it myself!

Dodger

#17

Dodger said:

I don't know. Nintendogs for DS was fun for a little while but I got bored of it rather quickly. I still would recommend it to anyone looking for a pet sim but there wasn't a whole bunch of different things to do and I let my little sister have it. Probably not the first game I pick up at least.

My little sister might buy it so she can play it on my 3DS once I get it.

suburban_sensei

#19

suburban_sensei said:

When I bought the 3DS I got some reward zone coupons and a giftcard, so I should be able to pick this up for $20 after I use all of that stuff. I liked the original, and this seems just wonderful, as well.

Kid_A

#20

Kid_A said:

Curse your wonderful reviews, James. You're actually making me want to buy this one! :D

TrainerOrange

#21

TrainerOrange said:

But can you transfer your dogs from the original game to the new one? That is the burning question.

Portista

#22

Portista said:

Never tried a Nintendogs game. Maybe when I get my 3DS I will ask for it for Christmas. Great review!

Morpheel

#23

Morpheel said:

@22: With all the new choices and color options available, why would you want to send your old dog to the new game?

It's not like you can't play the old game after you buy this one!

Lobster

#26

Lobster said:

My real cat is getting annoyed at all of my "Woook at da puppy-eeeeee" feelings toward this game, but right now I'm in love with it. It warms the cockles of my heart when Starburst the Golden Retriever hops up to lick me through the screen. <3 I don't even like dogs. But this game is tons of fun, and can be played for either a long-ish time or a short time. I love turning on the Pedometer and collecting presents. Just wish I had enough money in game to get a cat, and friends with 3DSes irl to... walk by, I guess!

6ch6ris6

#27

6ch6ris6 said:

i bought it because ridge racer was sold out and i never had the original nintendogs. this game is cool and the dogs and cats looks so cute in 3D

Victoria

#28

Victoria said:

Nice review. This is my first venture into nintendogs, and I'm enjoying it. I gave my pooch a silly name, and find myself talking baby-talk to him. My husband gives me raised eyebrow looks, but I don't care. It keeps me happy and that's what matters.

SunnySnivy

#29

SunnySnivy said:

I really like Nintendogs. It's a nice casual game to just pick up and play whenever I'm bored. :) It's the only game I got for my 3DS... I can't wait for different 3DS games to come out though.

Ayer99

#33

Ayer99 said:

I think i will just get the first. Save me like 280 $ (i dont have a 3DS)!

Stine

#34

Stine said:

This is my only 3DS game (so far, of course), and I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying it. It's not a game I can play straight for several hours, but I really doubt it's supposed to be. I love closing my 3DS and putting my Nintendog in my pocket when I'm going for a walk with my real dog, and then getting a reward when I come home. My main problem is that I want to buy pretty much everything, but I don't have enough money :D I guess I'll keep competing! Finally earned enough to buy the cheapest cat the other day, though.

James

#35

James said:

@3XDStar We're reviewing every 3DS launch game, so yes. It'll just take some time is all — only so many hours in the day!

xxx_Kirby_xxx

#36

xxx_Kirby_xxx said:

@29 It's OK. I've baby-talked my little Maltese 'Bobby' a lot, too. <3 It's so adorable. Currently saving up for a kitty. :D Love it. It's so realistic and I will not find myself tiring of it. The 3DS isn't even mine, but I say Bobby is!!!! :D

tpurple

#39

tpurple said:

I got this game and got a german sheperd just like the one i have in real life i like using the pedometer alot too!

pikazard

#41

pikazard said:

I WANT IT NOOOOWWWWWW XD
i had the original and im looking forward to this one! i just...dont have a 3ds yet. lol. i will get one when the price gos down on august 12th! just 7 days away! yahoo! (but i dont get why people are dissapointed in the cats. i have cats. nobody walks cats or teaches them tricks.They lay around,sit on your lap and act cute!)

Miranda20392

#43

Miranda20392 said:

Yeah your right pikazard they are cute and when i get the game first getting a dog then a cat and then another dog :D

AutumnShantel

#44

AutumnShantel said:

The first one was amazing, and it's hard to improve from the "amazing" rank, but it did! I'm usually not the one to play these types of games, but it's addicting and entirely too cute! Nice review, too, by the way.

SonicSpeed

#45

SonicSpeed said:

This is my third Nintendogs game and this one way improved than the last ones. I play it all the time so I have 1 dog and 3 cats. My favourite cat Sooty is grey and ADORABLE!!

ShinyGold

#47

ShinyGold said:

Yeah I Hate It To atariman When I Went On My 3Ds A Demo Appeard i Duno Who Downloaded It Im Sure It Was My Little Sister Probably Wanted To See Kittens And Puppys Come Out The Sreen

Spudster

#48

Spudster said:

Best game ive played by far, They have done huge improvments with the graphics aswill as the functionality.

CocoCraz123

#49

CocoCraz123 said:

@Caramel

You're right. You can only walk one dog at a time, but guess what?

You don't have to wait a half hour before walking your dog again!

You can walk your dog immediately after you just walked him/her. I found that out while walking my own Nintendogs. But, the downside is that they get dirtier and hungrier/more thirsty, so make sure to feed them after a walk or two.

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