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Ninetendogs + Cats on the 3DS is recommended for ages 3 years and above and not having played Nintendogs, the previous game I can not comment on how similar this is.
When the game starts you are at the Kennels, you have the option of choosing from only nine different breeds of puppies, at this point you can not choose a kitten, in this version you can choose from, Welsh Corgi, miniature Schnauzer, Labrador Retriever, Jack Russell, Toy Poodle, Bull Terrier, Boxer, Shih Tzu or Pomeranian, my daughter choose the Toy Poodle and yes, it's extremely cute.
To choose your puppy, you must use your stylus on the silhouette on the lower touch screen to stroke the puppy, a hand will appear on the top screen and the puppy will react accordingly. Once you have done this for a while you can choose from the puppies available.
You have to pay for your puppy but you are given 2000 at the start of the game, which you will quickly spend, getting your puppy and things for it.
You can then take your puppy home, the home is chosen for you but you can choose from other homes and pay for them with money you have accrued via competitions that you can enter your pet into and by gaining money from steps, in other words, you take your puppy for a walk, in real life this means you walk around with your 3DS and the more you walk, the more steps you get, when you then open your DS your puppy gives you a present, this present contains differing items which can be sold to Mr Recycles Shop and you can use the money to buy things for your pets and your home, or even a new home.
But Let's go back to your puppy, you take him home and settle him in, you need to first give your puppy a name, this isn't as easy as it sounds. As screaming tantrums in my house will prove. Why? Let me tell you, you can not use the control / keypad to enter your puppies name, you must first speak it into the DS microphone, if you get a question mark, the programme did not understand you, this happens quite a lot, especially if you don't speak slowly and very clearly. Adults be warned, children will not be pleased !
Once the name has been recognised, watch out because you have to do it again and if you don't do it exactly the same way as before the puppy wont understand you, this can go on for quite some time !! If you are lucky enough to pass this speech test, your puppies name can then be entered via the keypad, why this wasn't done in the first place, I have no idea, and would like to physically berate the designer at Nintendo for this annoying stupidity.
You then need to teach your puppy to sit, this is slightly easier, by sliding the stylus over the silhouette of your dog on the touch screen downwards and saying sit into the microphone, this seemed to go better.
Once this is done you can then start to play with your puppy and buy things for it.
Taking care of your pet, you must feed, water, clean and play with it, You must take it for walks where you will meet other puppies and as this programme uses StreetPass, you will be able to interact with other game users, you can send them information about your pet and gifts and they will send it back to you.
You can go into your diary and touch Meet up at the Park to play with other Mii and their pets and as you meet new players you will find that at the kennels other breeds of dogs will become available to buy.
Once you have your first puppy, you can then buy a kitten, but kittens are much less fun in this game as they are limited to what they can do, you can't take them out and you can't enter them into competitions, but you can still care for them and it's funny to watch the puppies and kittens interact at home.
You can also use the camera function to take pictures of your pets which you can find in your diary.
All in all, it's not a game that is full of action, it's slow and would appeal to a child with patience or a love of animals.
My daughter has had this game for a few weeks and is not normally the type of game she enjoys, but it seems to mellow her out when she plays, although not when she was trying to name him !
It is not a game I would recommend because it all depends on the child, I wouldn't have dreamed in a million years my daughter, she of the Mario and Sonic games, she who loves anything Pikmin and who is a devout Pokemon fan, would have the patience to sit there stroking an imaginary dog, but she does and she loves it. Trouble is now she wants a real puppy !