There's a certain nostalgic charm to Me & My Furry Patients 3D's early-1990s PC game aesthetic – the rudimentary isometric 2D graphics, crude character models, heavy reliance on walls of text and menus resembling Windows 95 pop-up boxes are a nice change of pace from the ubiquitous FarmVille-esque cartoony graphics we see in so many children's games today. While the title leads you to believe this will be a casual, childish affair like My Exotic Farm or My First Songs, Me & My Furry Patients 3D may actually be the closest the 3DS ever gets to a hardcore veterinary simulator. Here's a sample diagnosis from early in the adventure:
The budgerigar's plumage is blunt and dull. Feathers are partially faded, skin is dry. Suspected vitamin A deficiency was confirmed by a blood test.
A tonic is injected, containing vitamin A, followed, by in-patient admission with daily repeat of ambulatory therapy.
How many small children, whom this game is presumably marketed toward, would understand any of that? How many adults understand it? Do you even know what the word "ambulatory" means without looking it up? Hold onto your hats, animal lovers – Me & My Furry Patients 3D ain't your little cousin's vet game.
The studio behind Me & My Furry Patients, Independent Arts Software, is based in Germany and this becomes immediately apparent to any native English speaker playing the game for the first time. The translation is slightly awkward ("Make Photo" instead of "Take Photo," "Cancel Game" instead of "Quit Game"), and all the shopkeepers feature delightfully accented voice-over work. It's an endearing quirk to those able to overlook some of the clunky design choices, but this additional obstacle added to the already jargon-heavy dialogue could make the text frustrating for young players to get through.
In true early-'90s fashion, Me & My Furry Patients doesn't have any sort of tutorial. You pick your name (with the nifty option to use German letters like Ü and ß!), you're given a 22-item Task Overview, then you're plopped right into the isometric gameworld and left to your own devices. Your veterinary practice sits on a surprisingly large, empty plot of land that you can eventually fill up with buildings like kennels, stables, and therapy centres. In the beginning, though, your vet operation consists of a single main office.
Me & My Furries fully supports both touch controls and standard buttons, so you can roam around with the Circle Pad, D-pad or the stylus. If you walk in one direction for long enough, your character picks up her pace and zooms around the map at blistering speed. You can't directly interact with anything; instead, you press a button when you're in the general vicinity of an object that can be interacted with, like a customer or animal.
You can't help any animals, though, until you buy supplies. Leave your office and head into town, and there's a wide array of medical supplies to purchase: anti-inflammatory ointment, healing ointment, anti-parasitical ointment, anti-parasitical preparation, vaccine, painkiller, antibiotics, tonic, disinfectant, and massage balls. And of course, each type of animal has their own specific type of food to buy, too. The game doesn't advise you on what to stock up on, so overwhelmed players are left to blindly purchase everything they can.
Once you have the supplies you need, you can finally treat some sick animals. Customers will bring their furry friends to you with depressingly detailed descriptions, such as "My pet has been restless for days and is scratching itself a lot. There are already scabby and inflamed patches on various parts of its body." The game will give you in-depth text-only descriptions of the symptoms and diagnosis, and tell you exactly how to treat the animal--these detailed text dumps are not suited for young kids with basic reading ability, but they could be interesting for slightly older kids who have dreams of becoming vets in real life.
A basic 3D model of the animal is displayed on your operating table, reminiscent of popular pet games like Nintendogs, but there's no rubbing with the stylus or really interacting with the sick animals at all. You simply pick the medicine you need and touch the part of the animal that needs the medicine; there's no challenge since you're told explicitly what to do, but it can be difficult to keep track of all your different ointments and injections. If you don't have the necessary tool to heal an animal, you're not allowed to leave and buy more supplies; you simply lose the customer and lose out on money.
Management of your veterinary business is just as important as treating the animals in Me & My Furry Patients 3D, if not more so. You can expand your buildings, pay for advertising and construct kennels and stables to keep sick animals in; you can even get loans from the bank in town to help with your expenses, a fairly complex feature for a game aimed at kids. You start out only treating small animals like guinea pigs and birds, but you can go the academy in town and earn your license to treat larger animals; the bigger the animal, the more money you make for treating them. To get your license, you take a difficult multiple-answer quiz on each species. What animal is the modern house cat descended from? How are dog breeds categorised? It's an educational way to introduce a sense of progression to your burgeoning veterinary practice.
Me & My Furry Patients features forgettable elevator music and basic 2D graphics for the overworld, with muddy 3D models for the avatars of customers and shopkeepers. Surprisingly for such a low-budget title, though, Me & My Furry Patients utilises many of the 3DS' unique features: you can use StreetPass to receive in-game presents, take a photo of yourself for your character's avatar and exchange Play Coins for tidy sums of money at the bank. And that's not all: Me & My Furry Patients 3D features a bonus "Go Riding" mode, where you pick a horse and ride it around a field. There's nothing to do in this mode aside from gallop about and hop over garbage can barricades, but it's an extra few minutes' worth of fun that may entertain some small children feeling disenchanted by the complex main game.
Me & My Furry Patients 3D wears its early '90s influences on its sleeve; the official website of its creator Independent Arts Software even features this photograph on its "company profile" page. If you can find fun in meticulously-detailed veterinary reports and menu-based gameplay, Me & My Furry Patients 3D might be for you. However, $29.99 is a steep asking price for a low-budget kids' game, and the archaic interface is likely off-putting to the title's target demographic. For children dead-set on becoming vets when they grow up, Me & My Furry Patients 3D is worth a try, but for kids who just want cute animal fun, you're better off sticking with Nintendogs.