No one wants to feel as though they're doing a terrible job of taking care of their pets. Sadly, there are times when you may drop an animal and it gets hurt, or your beloved pet may get old and need veterinary medical attention; that's the real world. In the virtual world, though, Pet Hospital has you covered.

Unlike My Pets, Pet Hospital is all serious business. This isn't the fluffy, feel-good game with the occasional hiccup in pet care, in which love and some ointments can take care of your pet's every day needs. Pets Hospital incorporates those things into caring for your pet too, but there's also a more dreary reality to this game. Your role in this wellness treatment and vet simulator is as an assistant to the Vet at a local hospital, with all of the responsibilities that brings.

What we have, then, is a repetitive cycle of following medical procedures that begin with weighing animals, diagnosing by temperature taking and listening for heartbeats. A vague conversation about a diagnosis follows, then it's off to "fix" the problem by going through a series of mini-games for treatment in injecting animals, rubbing ointments, and a few other things. The game opens up through mission objectives which are a series of checklists on things you must do to proceed to the next achievement; they include tasks such as treating two types of animals in-house or letting them stay overnight for extra treatment. Extra treatment means more medical mini-games, feeding, petting and cleaning of the animal houses. There are larger goals to be met, such as buying medical equipment which will create new mini-games, or buying buildings to house and treat larger animals, which begins with rodents and later moves on to pets such as birds and rabbits.

Gameplay doesn't change a great deal depending on the animal; it's still a series of simple processes completed in sequence. Mini-games change a little depending on equipment you buy, which is how new variations are introduced. For instance buying the stethoscope, which is a required objective, will open up a mini-game in which players draw circles around same-coloured bacteria or specimen samples to combine them into one big terrifying glob-like disease. However, all the games - as with My Pets - are just as you would expect. They involve a series of sliding, drawing, and tapping the stylus to complete activities. There's nothing particularly difficult about them, except that some can have small annoyances. As an example, there are timing activities which require your movements to be just right when playing a small game of acupuncture bullseye. The needle will hover over a designated area which players will have to pinpoint as the needle moves erratically. It's not always the most accurate of mechanics.

There's one relatively notable thing about Pets Hospital, and that is the timer to complete each action during the examination portion of the game. Time is money after all. The timers are all relatively generous as the mini-games don't require any real skill to complete. Do they add even the tiniest bit of pressure? Maybe they would for much younger players. What's scary, however, is that if the timer runs out your character will state that you will try better next time. What happens to the pets you 'failed' to treat? Is there a next time for them? It's hard to tell when all the animals that come through generally have the same problems, and client names don't really matter much after treating all the lifelike animals in rapid succession.

My Pets had the same overworld aesthetic, using realistic looking surroundings and animals in the game. Pets Hospital does the same but there are more areas to explore, and it doesn't feel as lifeless. However, the style of your human characters are less cartoonish and have a more realistic style. The dialogue itself is also strange; content-wise the conversations work, but they certainly don't flow well. They do fulfil the job of punctuating the very light story of the game in which the clinic expands; who knew your character could treat rabbits until your assistant friend had a rabbit emergency? No one did, but thank goodness because that's an excuse to buy a rabbit house and treat those animals too.

Conclusion

Pet Hospital is a series of routine tasks that involve dragging, sliding and tapping the stylus. What is different about this game compared to My Pets, other than its setting, is a series of timed mini-games which has the potential to add the tiniest little bit of anxiety for younger players. It also is more mission-based approach, with checklists that give the game a slightly more focused feel. That said, it is rote and there is nothing very compelling about it to encourage the player; the gameplay is just too repetitive to hold attention for long periods of time. Games like these may be designed exactly for short bursts of play, but when mission objectives consist of the same requirements, with a dull story that lacks quality sprinkled in between, there's barely any fun to be had.