Nintendogs for the GBA? Not so fast.
If you want a puppy sim and just have a Gameboy Advance, this could be your game. Oh, and it might help if you are young. There has been a lot of hype recently about breaking out of the normal genre of what we know as the definition of a ‘video game’. Dogz from Ubisoft is certainly in that category.
To begin this game, you need to first choose some game settings. Choose if you are a boy or a girl, your name, what type of puppy you would like to raise (from energetic to relaxed), and also the gender and size of your puppy.
You find out that you are a third grader and your parents would like to go to the pet shop to purchase an addition to the family. You hop into your BMW-look-alike car, and visit some pet shops. This is where you will choose your virtual puppy through a series of plain yes/no menus. There are about five puppies in each shop; if you don’t find one to your liking; you can leave that pet shop to continue shopping elsewhere. Once you have decided on the puppy to adopt, you are prompted to play with it. If you decide that this is the one, you are then on your way to having a new best friend! The game then takes you home to name your puppy. Your goal: to become best friends.
Taking good care of a new puppy includes everything from giving it plenty of attention, to playing games with it, and also giving it the proper training. Your mom and dad also give you advice throughout the game on how to raise your puppy. The game’s ending will change according to how well you raise your new friend.
You begin the game on a Sunday and will have three weeks to become as best of friends as you can. Pop-up menus appear to help you interact with your puppy. Simple basic commands such as "carry", "sit", "lie down", and "bed" need to be learned by your puppy before you can progress onto the more advanced ones. All of these commands begin with simple, pop-up menus where you make a selection. Make sure that you take some time to teach your puppy all of them. Your puppy will let you know if he/she is learning the various commands with question marks or exclamation points above his/her head, depending on the situation. For instance, once your puppy learns to sit, then the shake command will appear. Make sure that you also give your puppy food & water, brush your puppy, give your puppy treats, clean the house, play with toys, walk the puppy, and clean your puppy’s bed and potty.
Walking from room to room time passes five minutes at a time, while other actions may take about 15 minutes of the day. Plan accordingly due to the fact that your bedtime is 9pm. As you reach the end of each day, a puppy status screen will appear informing you with hearts in categories such as training, fur coat, friends, and walking status. Moving onto the next screen will show you the status of each of the commands that you will learn throughout the game. Then you will be prompted to save your game and go to bed. The next day comes very early since you need to go to school Monday through Friday and play with and train your puppy anytime you are at home. You will also randomly receive new items to explore, such as books about raising your puppy, a TV, music CDs, and more. Try to find them in cabinets, toy chests, and other areas.
Fast-forwarding to the end of the week, you will go to the veterinarian on Saturdays for your puppy’s check-up. The vet will let you know if your puppy is stressed out, happy, etc. Listen to the vet’s advice to advance to the best ending to the game. If your puppy is stressed out, play with he/she more, etc. Then continue onto the next two weeks. Once you have completed the three weeks, your game will save to one of three “always together” save spots. This is another mode where you can visit your puppy anytime and just play with it and teach it the advanced tricks. You can even visit other friends’ homes with the Game Boy Advance link cable. The game also features three mini-games: puppy-style Othello, an obstacle course for your puppy, and a puppy knowledge quiz.
This is beautiful game for the younger audiences. Not too much interactivity for anyone older than a third grader. If you love Nintendogs, don’t take the large step backwards to this game. It is just simply not worth it if you are accustomed to the extra interactivity possible on the DS.