Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo DS games
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Own an adorable little puppy without real life responsibility!
Nintendogs Labrador Retriever & Friends (DS)
Member Name: Ainat
Nintendogs Labrador Retriever & Friends (DS)
Date: 04/04/11, updated on 25/07/13 (31 review reads)
Advantages: Pretty realistic in many respects, great for all ages.
Disadvantages: Can get boring after a while, voice recognition sometimes difficult.
=== Game and Gameplay ===
The Nintendogs series has been around for quite a while now, almost as long as the DS itself I would imagine, and still captivates it's players like no other game. There are 4 versions of this game: Labrador, Dalmatian, Miniature Daschund, and Chihuahua. Each game allows you to own a variety of breeds. The version reviewed here is the Labrador and friends game, but I believe that they each work on a similar principle. For those of you with a 3DS, original DS games do work so this game would play, just make sure you have the 3D off.
The basic idea of the game is that you buy a puppy from the kennel, and look after it, train it, play with it, take it for walks, etc. To start with you have an amount of coins from which you can buy your first puppy with. You are allowed to have a maximum of 3 puppies at any one time (you can keep more in the doggy hotel if you run out of space, but you can only interact with 3 at once). You will only initially have enough money to buy one puppy anyway - You have to make more (by entering competitions, more on this in a bit..)
Once you have bought your first little ball of fluff you then name your puppy and begin interacting with it. You can teach your puppy to respond to voice commands as well as commands that you give by using the stylus. In order to teach your puppy a command you use the stylus to get the puppy to do what you want it to, e.g. sit, then say the word out loud clearly. Once you have repeated this a few times your puppy will have learnt the command and you will be able to get your puppy to do that command using only your voice. There is the useful ability to get your puppy to 'forget' the command, so if for any reason it stops recognising your voice, or you pass the game on to someone else, it is possible to re-train again. This is a neat little feature in the game, and brilliant that it was thought about to be put in. As well as training you also need to take your dogs out for walks. To do this, once you have selected 'walk' you need to draw your route on the map of the town. When you first get your puppy it needs shorter walks, but as you work with it more you can go on longer walks. Keep an eye out for the things you can come across when you're out on the town. :-)
As mentioned previously, you start with a set amount of money. In order to buy supplies (food, water, etc) or to buy more puppies you will need to make some more pennies! To do this you need to train your puppy well enough to enter competitions. You can enter your dog in agility (jumping), obedience (you need the voice commands for this one) or disc competitions. As you work your way up the ranks (from beginner classes) the prize funds are higher. So the more you train, the better the rewards!
A few other things to note - to get supplies you can either go to the pet shop, or to the second hand pet supplies if you want to buy things cheaper. Little hint for you, if you go out on a walk and pick a route that goes past a shop... Those shops are even cheaper! Look out for little things like that throughout the game.
There are a few other little useful features such as a clock and the date on screen. I found that a little random at first, but it is a pretty useful little thing to have. Oh, and one more thing, remember to keep your little fluffball clean, you don't want them getting dirty and covered in fleas!
=== Graphics, Sound and Longevity ===
The graphics in this game are pretty realistic for a DS game of this age. I think this makes the puppies even more adorable! The game reacts pretty quickly to any button press or use of the stylus. I tend to play with the sound off on my DS, but sound wise you get pretty much what you would expect. Dog barking noises, sounds of sniffing, etc.
There is the option to interact with your friends dogs using the 'bark mode' option. It is a pretty simple game, but one that can keep you captivated, so suitable for adults and children alike.
The game can get a little boring if you play it all the time. I tend to play it for a while, then not pick it up for a while, then play it again. The puppies still remember their commands, but expect them to be hungry and dirty if you leave them a while. Give them some food and a bath and they'll be as good as new in no time. This aspect of the game is unrealistic, but means that you don't have the heartache of a poorly puppy which you would have in real life. It can also get a little frustrating with voice recognition, but as mentioned before, if you are really stuck it's easy enough to 'forget' the command and re-teach it.
Another great little feature is if you get stuck with anything and happen to have lost the instruction booklet (I'm good at that) then you can always access the help books on different topics in the 'supplies' menu.
There are loads of great little features in this game, some realistic, some not so much. The only real downsides have been thought about by the game makers and there are features in place to counteract them (such as the 'forgetting' feature and the fact that if you leave the game for a while your puppies are back to full health with little work). I would recommend this game to anyone. It is more of a girly game, but I know guys out there who play it, just they tend to steal it off their girlfriends occasionally!
=== Price and Availability ===
Currently on Amazon is is priced at £21.95 for the Labrador version, with the other versions of the games being at slightly different prices. I have seen a variety of prices recently though, so shop around.
With the launch of the 3DS there is of course newer, 3D versions of this game available. How could Nintendo not re-make what appears to be one of their most popular games? I actually do own a 3DS now, but have yet to buy the newer version, though will consider it when next looking to expand my game collection. If you do have a 3DS then again there are options in terms of breeds, etc, and also incorporate cats into the games. Price wise there isn't toooo much of a difference for the newest versions, so possibly something to consider if you have the 3DS.
Summary: Great little game that all ages can engage with.
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