Review: Me & My Pets 3D (3DS eShop)

Pet-thetic

First thing’s first: the pets in Me & My Pets 3D are not yours. You are running a pet hotel, so they belong to others. Second, things are not in 3D as much as a flat, albeit layered, pseudo-3D. Third, the pets do not resemble real pets as much as colourful rocks that have been given GIF animations.

For a game that seems to scream from its surface how wonderful and adorable and rewarding it is to take care of animals, the actual experience in Me & My Pets 3D is rather vacant and dead. It wastes no time plopping the player in an empty yard in front of an empty house connected to an empty plaza for the very first scenario. There is some intro text that says you are going to learn the basics and take care of some rabbits, but there is no tutorial; no presence to nudge a player in the right direction. What are younger players supposed to do here?

After wandering around a bit and digging through the menus, you eventually realize you’ve been left to consult the digital manual or fiddle around with things until you learn to do them yourself. The first goal, of course, is to buy a place to keep animals, because the game’s days will just pass by in a lonely, inactive haze until you do. Don’t worry if you’ve already spent the money — with which you start each scenario — on other random items hoping to make something happen, as you can cash Play Coins in for $100 a pop. DO worry about saving the game, though, as there is no auto-save; not even after completing a scenario.

Once things actually get going and some animals arrive, it’s at least not too difficult to pick up on the achingly simple and repetitive chores you have to complete. Each creature will have meters representing needs such as health, appetite, and luxury that must be kept elevated until its owner returns. Do you want to feed an animal? Drag a disc representing food to it, where it will perform its canned feeding animation (or nothing, if a fish). Do you want to give it some exercise? Rub your stylus on the screen and it will do one of its canned exercise animations (or nothing, if a fish). Do you want to groom it? Drag a brush over and rub the animal with it, where it will… likely do nothing (and still nothing, if a fish — don't even wonder what the heck you’re doing rubbing at its tank with a grooming brush). Watching the meters rise and fall is more exciting than watching the animals themselves, and that’s just wrong.

Later levels will task you with juggling more and different types of animals, including birds, guinea pigs, and dogs, but earlier scenarios will most likely involve taking care of the animals’ levels and then waiting until the clock hits noon, when the game allows you to end the day. There’s just nothing else to do. If this were real life, gently grooming some animals and going to bed at noon sounds like a dream job, but it’s just not fun here.

Unfortunately, going to bed won’t save you from the continuously looping music, which could be described as “bubblegum scat with notes of Smash Mouth”, or just “insanity-inducing.” The voice acting is provided by a woman who does not sound like she wanted to be in the recording studio, especially when you hear a wistful “Fine…” as you’re rubbing an animal. The stilted voices do match up to the plastic-looking characters and graphics, however.

Outside of the main game, there’s a riding mini-game that is good for about 2 minutes of moving a horse around a screen. You can also take a photo of yourself and stick your head and neck onto the shoulders of the main character’s dialogue portrait. Please never do this.

Conclusion

The best part of Me & My Pets 3D is the Animal Lexicon found in the menus, which provides surprisingly interesting, real-life info on caring for the different species within the game. It has no bearing on the actual gameplay, but is a great resource for showing how any money spent on this hollow, lifeless shell of an experience could have gone toward a real pet that would provide infinitely more interactivity. Kids, if your parents got you this game, show them this part of it. It might just save your joy.