Review by mrpants_again

"Step aside Snoopy! Nintendogs is in town!"

One of the games Nintendo has been holding up on a pedestal since E3 2004, Nintendogs was released for the two screened wonder on August 28th. Nintendogs is a dog simulation game in which you raise, train, compete, and love your dog. There are a total of three versions of the game currently available: Labrador (which is the game I have and am reviewing), Dachshund, and Chihuahua. Every version starts out with six breeds, but you can eventually unlock all 36 dogs. Lab & Friends has labrador retriever, miniature schnauzer, toy poodle, pembroke welsh corgi, miniature pinscher, and shiba Inu unlocked from the get-go. To find out what breeds are available from other versions, read another review, or check the back of the game box. I'm going to start off saying, this game isn't for everyone. Those who perfer the more hard core action adventure games should think really hard about this one, while fans of Animal Crossing and Cubivore will eat it up. Now don't get me wrong, if you are a hard core action fan you may very well love this game. Read on to see the full review!

Graphics: At first glance you may think these graphics aren't all that great, but if you look into the intricate details, you may have to disagree. The dogs are very well draw out and very realistic looking. The background of you house, furniture, etc. look a little polygonal, but you can still tell what they are. Nintendo put a lot of work creating this game to make it look great. The only flaw I can remember is the spectators at the various events you compete in. Most of them look like paper cut outs from what you would see in a Macintosh golf game. (7.5/10)

Innovation: I'll put this right out there: This game has every one of the DS's features pinned down. Voice control, touch screen sensitivity, and wireless play; it's all here! Sure you have your Meteos and Warioware where you cut things and line up bricks, but this is the first game that actually incorporates the touch screen to it's fullest potential. By simply tapping a corner of the screen you can get your dog(s) to jump and sniff the corner you touched! Rubbing your dog's belly will get it all excited. It will even shift it's weight to the area it wants to be rubbed! This is also the first game where you can actually tell your dog what to do. Tapping it on the head from far away will get him to look at you, but for the dog to come to you you'll need to call it's name. You can also teach him/her tricks by saying the name of the command clearly into the mic. It takes some time, but when you see it in action you'll say "wow, video games can actually do that?". The final of the DS's major functions is it's multiplayer wireless "bark mode" where up to two people can chat, trade breeds, and check out each others dogs! When you enter bark mode, you can close you DS and take it with you wherever you go. When your dog senses another Nintendogs user it will bark letting you know it's found someone. You can then open your DS and see who you've met. If the dog you meet if a breed you don't have in your version, that breed will now be available to buy at the kennel. If you do not wish to communicate with the other Nintendogs user, you can record a voice message to play if you don't open your DS; sort of like an answering machine. In a sentence: The most Innovative DS game yet! (10/10)

Replay Value: This is one of those games that you don't win or lose. It's sheer open ended gameplay, much like Animal Crossing. A more casual gamer may grow tired of it after a couple of days, but those with patience will realize that this game can last forever. There is always something you can do with you dog whether it's entering competitions (more on that in a minute), going shopping, or taking a walk. However if you pup is pooped out and starting to fall asleep, that probably means it's had enough for today. There are a total of three competitions to enter: the disc throw, obedience, and agility trials. To learn more about the contests, consult your in-game manual. (9/10)

Control: Nintendogs controls mostly revolve around using the stylus and mic. The only button functions are zooming in and out on your dog with the A, B, X, and Y buttons, while using the control pad to move the camera around. The stylus should be a very affective tool in controlling the game unless your touch screen is scratched up (in that case you either need screen protectors to just buy a new DS). However to be honest, the mic can be a little unresponsive. When teaching your dog tricks or commands be sure to speak clearly and close to the mic or your command may be cut short or won't even be heard. If this happens just try again and keep you patience strong. Other than that I think you'll find everything to be very smooth. (8.5/10)

Overall: (9/10) I would probably give this game more of an 8.5, but Gamefaqs ratings only go for whole numbers so I rounded the score up. If you're the type of gamer who only plays maybe an hour or two a day or you are a gamer with a wide imagination and patience, this is the perfect game for you. If you are considering purchasing this game, I implore you to read other reviews for the other two versions (Dachshund and Chihuahua) to make sure it has the breeds you want. I hope you found my review helpful and I hope you consider picking up this shiny gem! :)

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/06/05

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