VIDEO GAME REVIEWS
by Glenn Given
Nintendogs: Daschound & Friends (Nintendo DS)
Nintendo. Rated E.
Nintendo has never
failed to do right with its hand-held offerings (the seizure-inducing
Virtual Boy aside). From Tetris on the original Game Boy to Advance Wars
on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo has consistently developed intriguing
titles even when third-party developers have abandoned them.
When the DS launched
in America, critics labeled it a flop both financially and creatively.
The dual screens and touch sensitivity were a bit off-putting to
consumers and, frankly, were not used to their full potential by
developers. But then there came Nintendogs.
A game for girls,
pet lovers, simulation lovers or role-playing-game lovers ó Nintendogs
is everything that should never make a game sell. Itís quirky, awkward
and bizarre. You need to talk to it, a lot, often in public and
frequently in high-pitched cutesy ways.
But, sweet Moses
Malone, it is a damn fine game ó so fine that youíre likely to have a
two-month wait to get a copy (way to go EB Games!).
The concept, a
virtual pet that you care for, play with and train, has been around the
block a few times (from that cat that would chase your mouse cursor
around to SEGA Dreamcastís legendary talking-fish thing Seaman) with
various degrees of success. But on the DS it really feels right.
puppy frolics and scampers and tussles with other puppies (either your
own or through a wireless connection with another Nintendogs owner). It
learns to recognize your voice and obey commands. You can teach it to
fetch, to roll over, to run agility courses or compete in flying-disc
competitions. You play touch-screen tug of war and blow soap bubbles for
your dog to chase (by actually blowing onto the Nintendo!). You feed
them and bathe them and brush them and, most of all, you pet them and
they respond in a 90 percent cute, 10 percent creepily accurate manner.
the cuteness of babies, the addictiveness of heroin and the wonder of
high-tech wizardry in one portable package. Many may scoff at the sheer
saccharine nature of Nintendogs but, dammit, I got a beagle. His name is
Badger. My wife has a Siberian Husky named Peanut and I donít think that
there is anything wrong with this.