IGN Review of Nintendogs + Cats: Toy Poodle & New Friends
Nintendogs is one of the most successful video games of all time, and was a major selling point for the Nintendo DS launch. So it makes sense that Nintendo brought the franchise back for the 3DS. If the thought of pulling out your old copy of Nintendogs to play sounds boring, then I've got some bad news. Nintendogs + Cats is everything that made the first game cute and charming, but little more.
There's not a lot to be said about Nintendogs + Cats (aside from "D'aaaw, look at the puppies!"). It's nearly the exact same game as its predecessors, and is a very standard, though adorable, pet sim. You can adopt up to three pets, teach them tricks, dress them up, take them for walks, and enter them into competitions. The touch screen acts as your means to pet your puppy or kitten, issue it commands, and play with toys.
It's all very cute, downright precious, even. The animals look great with a noticeable improvement in fur texturing and animations. Nintendo captures the attitudes and movements of the different breeds too, ensuring the dogs don't feel like palette swaps with the same AI. Even after being jaded from 5+ years of crappy knockoff clones on the DS, seeing the puppies is still cute enough to make me smile.
Nintendogs + Cats keeps it simple. Raising the dog isn't difficult, and the game sets easily achievable goals. It's a very casual experience, designed more to just have fun with the cute puppies than to actually be something you have to "win", which is good for a pet sim. Unfortunately there isn't a lot to do in terms of varying gameplay with Nintendogs + Cats. One day of the game shows off nearly every feature. The amount of effort it takes to be rewarded with money, items, or cavity inducing animal cuteness is very small. Which is really what I expected from the start, seeing as how this is obviously geared towards children. Nintendogs did so well because it was a good looking, easy to play, super cute video game starring puppies. This is that same experience, with a few cats thrown in.
Newcomers will find a lengthy, adorable pet sim, but returning players don't get a lot of benefit from new features, despite the added capabilities of the 3DS. There are some extra elements for the 3DS, like the ability to take a photo of your puppy using the system's AR cards, but that's hardly a selling point.
Aside from the graphical upgrade, and a larger assortment of items to buy, the voice recognition is the only noticeably improvement to Nintendogs + Cats. Whereas in the previous title I had to relegate the commands to a single monosyllabic word, this time around I can mix it up more and still see results. My Shiba Inu, Star Fox, knows to play dead when I say "I'm hit" and rolls over flawlessly when I tell him to do a "barrel roll".
THE 3D EFFECT
The 3D in Nintendogs + Cats is subtle. The dogs jump off the screen when they come up to lick you, but that tends to make them look like they're floating. The real use for it is adding depth to the environments. When you go out into a park the 3D helps convey distance. Your dog will run off to catch a Frisbee and looks like he's far away. I found myself turning the 3D off rather often when I was in the main home area because it wasn't doing much.
You can also use the camera to take photos of your dog with the AR cards, and those can be viewed in 3D.