With Go Fetch!, ICM took the simple activity of playing fetch with a puppy and added a timer, health bar and obstacles to create a unique racing game-esque experience that was unfortunately let down by imprecise controls, lack of depth and repetitiveness. The developer doggedly returned to the drawing board to remedy these issues and release Go Fetch! 2, but are the improvements enough to save this canine from the pound?
The main mode has a boy throw baseballs to different locations that you're to retrieve within a set time limit. You'll avoid two types of obstacles – those that you'll run into, temporarily stunning you, and pigeons and cats that you'll involuntarily chase for a short period. You can jump to avoid them or bark to scare away the latter. The frantic felines seem a bit unfair as you'll chase them until you run into a barrier, which can shave quite a bit of time off the clock. You can also pick up food for health and one power-up that turns you invincible to all obstacles except water.
One big change from the game's predecessor is the Super Scribblenauts-esque replacement of stylus controls with D-pad or Circle Pad movement. You use this to steer, but once the puppy gets going there's no stopping it. While it's a large improvement and you shouldn't have trouble clearing tight spaces as in the past, your puppies turn quite widely, so you'll have to get used to giving them enough room.
There are six somewhat complex stages total, each containing three acts wherein your owner, Paul, will stand in a different spot and utilise a new portion of the playing field. There are a set number of balls to collect, and you lose if you run out of time or health. Unfortunately, the game repeats one big mistake of the original – the locations to which he'll throw the balls and their order are pre-set, so playing the same stage again will yield nothing new, severely diminishing this mode's replay value.
Another extremely unfortunate aspect is the camera – you're unable to move it around, and you view your pup from above and at an angle, therefore spending most of your time looking at the ground. The bottom-screen map is easy to read and helpfully rotates to keep up with you, and you'll spend a lot of time using this to figure out where to go as often it's impossible to otherwise tell where you're going. It also makes depth difficult to judge in some spots, and combining this with puppy's wide turns makes for some sticky situations.
Take for example one instance where we were to hop over rocks floating in the water – the poor angle made it difficult to judge when to leap from one stone to the next, causing us to fall into the water and lose some health. Re-spawning on the edge brought to light another issue: whenever we pressed the direction in which we wanted the puppy to travel, it immediately fell off of the rock as there was virtually no room in between cliff and canine. Circling in the other direction and back around presented more difficulties as the space was too narrow for the dog's turning abilities, making it fall off once more. Eventually we got the job done, but not before dying many, many times.
However, these moments are relatively rare, though when they appear they indeed affect the player's enjoyment severely. The main issue with Go Fetch! 2 is the tedium. It begins when, after throwing the ball, the camera shows you exactly where each is placed, something we got in the habit of pressing a button to skip as it completely ruins any sense of discovery in searching for the target. On top of that, with very few exceptions, ball placement is unimaginative and relatively easily accessible and obstacles are easy to avoid. The last stage has you leaping between platforms of different heights and finding baseballs tucked away in flowerbeds, but it's a long, boring road there. You also must unlock every stage as you go, making things feel even slower.
You'll gain access to two new puppies over time, one with the benefit of carrying two balls at once and great speed and the other able to carry three at once and move with moderate speed. Having a choice keeps things interesting, though you'll find little reason to return to the default dog once you've unlocked the others.
There are two other modes on offer, Challenge and VS. The former has you either collect balls within a certain time with the reward of more balls to collect, collect balls in the correct order or play the level without taking damage. All of these add some replay value, but most of the problems of the main game remain. You'll have to play through it to get here, too, as they start out locked away with no instruction as to how to access them, augmenting the already tedious feeling of this game. VS carries problems from single player over as well, but on the other hand, it's quite fun – here, you race a friend over Download Play to collect more balls than your opponent. This is the one saving grace in what is otherwise quite the bland experience.
The graphics and audio are both fairly impressive, though most of the music becomes repetitive before long, well-composed as some of it may be. Unfortunately, the poor camera causes little of the well-designed environments to actually appear on screen, and you'll spend most of the time staring at the ground.
While it improves on its predecessors' flaws, Go Fetch! 2 has its fair share of detriments, including an often terrible camera, dullness and largely unimaginative ball and obstacle placement. Less straighforward paths to targets, randomised throwing and perhaps multiple difficulty settings could turn this into something special, but as it stands it's quite bland. It still contains the potential for fun and its simplicity might make it appeal to younger or less experienced gamers, though they'll get turned off by the repetitiveness as well. If you have a friend with whom you can enjoy Download Play, the VS mode is worth checking out, but otherwise you can give this below average title a miss and let sleeping dogs lie.