Nintendogs – Old and New

Nintendogs is a pet simulation game that released for the Nintendo DS in 2005. There were three versions of the game, containing different dog breeds. Dachshund & Friends, Lab & Friends (Shiba & Friends in Japan), and Chihuahua & Friends then later another couple versions. I really liked it as a kid, though I’m not sure what version I had.

Virtual Pet

The virtual pet type of game originally came from things like Tamagotchi, desktop pets and digital aquariums. Before Nintendogs there was the Petz series from Ubisoft. Which depending on the game you owned you could have pet cats or dogs. In this game you could feed them, dress them, make them do certain games and even breed. Breeding is something not in the Nintendogs series, perhaps because it would take away the personal nature of caring for a particular dog or three.

Puppy in my Pocket

The core gameplay of both the DS and 3DS versions are the same.  First you open the game and are given the option to choose between some different dog breeds. Some of which you can’t get until later in the game. After that your new dog is taken home, and after a while you can name it. Using the microphone you will teach the dog it’s name after a few tries.

This is also how tricks are taught. In the DS era this was an amazing feature, although the downside is remembering how you pronounced something. As the tone of your voice would count as well, going back to a game after a while I becomes difficult to get your dog to perform tricks. These tricks start with sit down and shake, but become more complicated such as to play dead and sneeze.

They also both run on real time, so progress could be made daily. You can talk your dog out for a walk, where they can come across other dogs, shops, parks and places to practice for contests. At first your dog will only be able to walk a little while, but after daily walks the distance they can travel grows.

Caring for your dog also requires feeding, petting, attention and grooming. With money you buy various foods, treats, brushes and shampoos. As well as cute clothes, toys, interiors, music records and additional dogs. Only three dogs can be in your house at a time, but a few more can be kept at the dog hotel. Properly caring for your pets will unlock more items and breeds as you earn trainer/owner points.

A Working Dog

Money is earned by winning in contests. Both games have three contest types your dog can enter; Flying Disc, Obedience and Agility/Lure Coursing. The flying disc contest can be trained for by buying a frisbee toy, and taking your dog to the park. As with any of these skills they won’t be very good at first. Also, if you don’t play for a time and come back the dog’s ability seems to lesser a bit, or at least in contests. The obedience trial is based on being able to do certain tricks.

Finally the agility course is only in the original games, where you direct your dog through an obstacle course they can practice at by walking to it. Whereas the lure course is in the 3DS game and you must direct your dog towards you by the lure and make sure they don’t catch it or time will be lost. Originally I missed the agility course, but in my play of Nintendogs+cats my corgi Clara excelled at the lure coursing.

An Old Dog

It was a couple years ago, when I had worn through Nintendogs+cats that I decided to re-buy the DS one. I decided on the Labrador version because it had the Shiba Inu breed. I don’t feel that all the changes in the 3DS game were necessarily improvements.

The biggest difference is walking. In Nintendogs you would plan out a route on the map. Initially how far the dog could walk would start small and get very large after constant care and daily walks. In this game you would walk the dog holding the leash as the walked across the screen. Planning out the routes you would see spots that might either be presents, rubbish or another dog. Going where you want to in this game is much easier.

Generally the 3DS game has more content but it doesn’t have the white record. With that you could record a ten second message with your microphone. Bark mode is the games local wireless mode, in which people’s dogs could play together and you could hear their white record. It was actually a feature I never used.

Dogs now with Cats!

Nintendogs + Cats released for the Nintendo 3DS. I got mine only a couple of years ago, being the Toy Poodle edition because I wanted the Corgi. Along with graphical updates, items and breeds, many new features were added.

Before that I’ll explain walking in this game. In this version walking is done vertically as the dog walks up a set path towards your house. Coming across presents, rubbish or other dogs requires you to pull your dog towards or away from them. Meaning I often didn’t pick up presents or encounters. In the 3DS game dogs also need training to behave on walks. I had to pull them away from rubbish, or stop them from just sitting down on the ground. There were different paths you could go leading to different parks and shops, but these could also be missed. Getting to the lure coursing practice is far more of a hassle than the agility area in Nintendogs. There is also a cafe in the game you can walk to, where you can buy your dog a treat and let it play with the cat there.

One of the main new features in this game is the addition of cats. I was excited to have a pet cat since I can’t have one due to severe allergies. The cats are actually really boring, they can’t be trained, compete or go for walks. All you can do is care for them and play with them, like real cats. My cat also seemed to constantly agitate my dogs and they would mostly just bark at her, also like real cats. I eventually shoved her into the pet hotel to be done with it.

New Tricks

A lot of the features come with a lot of 3DS games. Such as a Streetpass function, showing your mii and dog on connected people’s walks. Also Spotpass and an in-game camera, which is very nice to have. Opening Pedometer mode acts the same as earning play coins by sleep mode but instead you are walking your dog and the more you walk before opening it the better present you’ll receive. Streetpass was never really a thing where I live and I didn’t want to risk losing my 3DS. I just mentioned miis which were nowhere in the previous game. I actually prefer the style of the DS one, the contest hosts looked better as pictures than miis in my opinion. Along with the new items, is the ability to add furniture to your house.

When on walks in this game, the presents are various pieces of junk such as leather and plastic. These items can be exchanged for particular things at the Recycle shop. So collecting lots is important if you want unique items. The more owner points  you earn the more things you can recycle for. Eventually you can even get a Robo Dog, which is cute but is exactly the same as a normal dog and not really worth the effort.

No Dogs on the Switch?

While I prefer the DS version, I think both are great, it’s just the walking that bothered me the most. Nintendogs, and the early Dogz games are cherished games of mine. I went back to this because I’ve been wanting a puppy lately. I’ve played too much of the game however, so now it’s more of a cute distraction as I have nothing to work towards.

There has yet to be another entry in the Nintendogs franchise announced for Nintendo’s latest handheld console. Forget Animal Crossing, this game hasn’t had a new entry for longer! It’s probably not a high priority for them but they should definitely do it. Perhaps they need to come up with a bundled microphone peripheral.

Japanese company Imagineer is releasing a similar game in Japan on December 6th. Titled, Little Friends: Dogs and Cats. Hopefully it makes its way outside of Japan, since this will be the Switch’s first pet sim. Who else misses their Nintendogs? Is anyone looking forward to this game possibly coming over our way?

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