Here's a quick generalisation: There are huge differences between mobile games and Nintendo 3DS games. The best mobile games take advantage of the host platform with regards to touch controls, usage of the screen and gameplay. It's also fair to say that for every great mobile game, there's a shed load of dross, but at least they're usually either free or the price of a chocolate bar. Enter Jet Dog - available on Nintendo 3DS and bearing the genetics of a mobile game, a hefty-ish price tag and some questionable design choices.
The (only) objective is propelling your doggy as far through the air as possible. Begin by swiping across the touchscreen quickly and at the desired launch angle to take to the skies. The perfect combination of high speed and optimum trajectory will maximise the distance your hapless pooch flies. There's a scoreboard which records the top ten distances achieved but unfortunately it's not online enabled, and there aren't any StreetPass features either.
Aside from watching your mutt rushing headlong into the clouds, there's an additional element of luck to the eventual landing. If you're really unfortunate you might find yourself crashing straight into a wall and coming to an abrupt halt. Luckily on most occasions there's a bit of a run-out, maybe a bounce or two off an equipped assist item (more on those in a moment) or a crash through a signpost or two. Landing requires no interaction and is simply a spectator sport - cross your fingers and hope for the best. It's not even possible to plan ahead or skilfully avoid any of the ground obstacles; during flight the floor isn't visible and even if it was, it wouldn't matter as you have no control over the action.
Upon coming to a final stop you can enter your initials onto the scoreboard (if applicable) and then select to either try again or quit. There are no additional stages, objectives or challenges.
From the beginning, you have access to one dog - Bernard. Sadly, Bernard doesn't even have a Jet-Pack, he's just your standard canine. After each turn, coins are gained depending on how far you've travelled. On average, ten or so coins are gained for a decent flight, but to start with expect to be banking five or less. Coins can be used to purchase items, which are handily categorised into six types, granting various effects such as a better take-off, slower falling or even being able to activate a second jump.
Purchased items can also be powered-up five-fold at the expense of more coins. Don't expect to be going on any major shopping sprees though; even the cheapest items can set you back 200 coins and that's before you begin any mods. Fancy changing to a different dog? Prepare to fork out 20,000 coins for Lucy the 'sexy poodle' (really) or 50,000 to gain the ultimate dog: Lupin.
It's also possible to unlock items through levelling up if you'd rather be a scrooge and save the coins. Achieved by filling up an on-screen bar a tiny bit at a time after each turn, progression can take an hour or so for each level. Some items unlock as high as level 50, which makes for a hefty bit of grinding.
And there's the rub – if this was a mobile game, there would be in-app purchases allowing those with spare cash to upgrade quicker. This being a Nintendo 3DS game in a locked environment means there's no quicker route. Considering the game requires only a modicum of skill, the only way to hit those higher scores is by being decked out with the best gear, and the only way to get the gear is to play the game over and over. You'll probably want to switch off the volume pretty rapidly too - the twee tune that plays throughout is ok for a few minutes but soon grates on the eardrums.
As far as the presentation goes, Jet Dog feels like it's on the wrong platform; the style is reminiscent of many, many bog-standard mobile games. Take a look at the screenshots around this review and you'll have practically seen all there is on offer (which is very little).
So to summarise: Jet Dog has hardly any gameplay, relies on a good chunk of luck in combination with an awful lot of grinding. To achieve the best scores you simply need to equip the best items with the best dog, which quickly becomes an endurance test consisting of fending off boredom long enough to get to the next upgrade. Ironically, the better your dog is, the longer it stays in the air, meaning you have to spend even more time grinding. Do yourself a favour and don't take these dogs out for walkies.