NintenDogs was a massive hit for Nintendo, garnering both critical praise and huge sales as it reinvigorated the pet genre, long the domain of simplistic Tamagotchi games. With the launch of Nintendo’s new handheld, NintenDogs seemed like a natural fit to acclimate players on the new bells and whistles of the 3DS. Did Nintendo add enough to make NintenDogs + Cats a worthy upgrade over the original?
NintenDogs + Cats is a great casual introduction to the 3DS. The first thing that you’ll notice if you’ve played NintenDogs in the past is the improved visuals. Not only do the dogs and cats look great, the animations are fantastic, and the environments are very nicely detailed. Taking your dog out for a walk is a pleasant experience thanks to the Wii-like visuals rendering Mii characters and a beautiful neighborhood.
The big draw for the 3DS is of course the 3D, and NintenDogs + Cats pulls off a great sense of depth. The main room where most of the interactions take place looks convincingly three dimensional, and as the dog (or cat) moves around, you get a real sense of how big the room is. There isn’t too much of a “pop-out” effect, which is generally more difficult to pull off, but overall the 3D in N NintenDogs + Cats is effective.
Not much has changed in the format of NintendDogs, you still select a pet, feed it, buy stuff for it, enter contests, etc. What they HAVE done (besides add cats) is to add a lot more stuff. More things to buy, more contests, more prizes, etc. The improved visuals do help to draw you into your pet, which now seems more intelligent when responding to your commands. Speaking of the cats, they really don’t add much to the gameplay, and though the cats bring along new behaviors they just don’t add much overall. I’m a cat person myself, but let’s face it, they aren’t the most exciting creatures to base a game on, and so it was smart of Nintendo to stick to the dogs as the main act. The dogs are the main draw and they are as cute and playful as ever, and the game will likely prove just as adept at hooking the casual gamers.
One of the main differences in this edition of the 3DS (and one that may be considered a drawback) is that your interaction with the pets just isn’t as direct. Yes, they look better and the 3D makes them feel closer than ever, but since only the bottom screen is touch capable, you have to use a shadow outline on the bottom screen to interact with your pet. It works, but it definitely creates a disconnect and you won’t get that same sense of directly interacting with your pet when playing toss or giving them a bath.
NintenDogs + Cats is an incremental improvement, and fans of the original will find plenty to love here. If you didn’t like the title on the DS, you won’t like it here either, but casual gamers should find plenty to love in the laid-back, easygoing title. As a system showpiece, NintenDogs + Cats does a good job of demonstrating the updated visuals and 3D that are the main draws of the Nintendo’s new handheld. More content would always be welcome, but Nintendo has done a good job of adding to a successful formula and putting in enough effort to justify purchasing this game if you enjoyed the original.