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There's just something about puppies that warms even the hardest of hearts, and whatever you love about them is captured perfectly in Nintendogs, a virtual-pet game for the Nintendo DS.
Hopefully it's not a dead bird. You know how dogs are.Ivan doesn't look like the sharing type, but looks can be deceiving.Tap the top of the screen to make Misty jump up in the air. Teach her the command and she'll jump at the sound of your voice. (In a good way.)
You'll be able to see a few different genders and colors of each breed at the kennel before you decide on a puppy of your own.Take your dog on a walk and you'll be forced into awkward conversation with other dog owners. Just like in real life!Got fleas? Wash your dog. They're surprisingly amenable to it in the game, not so much in real life.The accessories you can outfit your dog with range from the mundane to the incredibly bizarre.Want money? Enter your puppy in a flying disc contest, ably commentated on by very funny play-by-play men.
Although the concept of caring for a computerized companion has been around for a while -- remember Tamagotchi? -- digital pets have never been so disarmingly cute as these realistically rendered puppies.
Adorable doggy antics combined with a simple, intuitive interface and lots of things to do make Nintendogs a potential blockbuster.
Nintendogs' intuitive interface and relaxing, open-ended gameplay should attract a wide audience outside the usual gamer demographic. That's exactly what happened in Japan, where the game launched last April. DS sales skyrocketed after Nintendogs hit shelves, and nearly half the buyers of the game were women.
When you first turn the game on, you go to a virtual kennel and select your dog from a variety of breeds. Nintendogs is sold in three versions, each with an initial selection of six different breeds. The one I played, called Chihuahua and Friends, also features the German shepherd, boxer, cavalier King Charles spaniel, Yorkshire terrier and Shetland sheepdog. (The other breeds can be unlocked as you play the game).
I decided to take home a Yorkie, who I named Muffin. My first task was to teach Muffin her name, by repeating it into the Nintendo DS' built-in microphone. The voice recognition program works great. After only a few repeats, Muffin runs up to me every time.
To interact with your puppy, all you need is the stylus and microphone. The touch screen is used not only to play with and scratch your dog, but also to teach it tricks.
Slide the stylus down your dog's head to make it sit, then just tap a little light bulb icon and say the command "sit" into the microphone. Repeat a few times and your puppy will learn to sit on command.
You can take your puppy for a walk on the town, mapping out a route then strolling around. Question-mark icons on the map indicate a happening spot -- you might meet another dog owner while your dogs get to know each other (on a very personal basis).
There are other locations outside your virtual home that you and your puppy might want to visit: a park where you practice playing fetch, a second-hand store with deals on doggy toys, and a gymnasium where you train your dog to take part in agility contests.
You can earn money entering your pup in contests, which is used to buy food, toys and new puppies (you can have up to three at a time), so it's quite important. There are three different contests -- flying disc, obedience and agility (the part at dog shows where pooches run up ladders and seesaws).
Part of the appeal of Nintendogs is that you don't have to do any of these things. If you want, you can just sit around and scratch your pup behind the ears all day.
Nintendogs uses the DS' internal clock to keep track of the real-world time and how many days have passed. So you'll have to check in on your puppy every day, making sure it gets food, water and exercise.
If you forget to do this, you might turn the game on to find a dirty, flea-ridden, hungry, sullen dog waiting for you. Or not: Severely neglected pooches can run away. If you know you're going to be away for a while, the dog can be checked into a puppy hotel where it will be fed and cared for in your absence.
http://www.wired.com/news/games/0,2101, ... _tophead_2
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