Nintendogs was released for Nintendo’s fledgling DS back in 2005. Following a few months after the system’s launch, it entered an arena where touchscreen and microphone controls were still a revolution. It was one of my most anticipated titles, owing largely to our old friend nostalgia. The all-consuming success of the Tamagotchi in the 90′s (the damn things were everywhere) had fascinated my pet-free younger self. The combination of DS’s new control system and something that resembled one of those ancient virtual pets on a hefty dose of 21st Century steroids was irresistible.
I enjoyed this responsibility free, accident-on-the-carpet free ‘pet lite’. The controls prohibited buttons, everything from tossing a frisbee to bathing your dog was done via touch control. It was truly unique at the time to play in this way, particularly coupled with voice recognition allowing you to train your pet to perform tricks. It was a charming, captivating experience. It was also, friends mocked, not a game at all.
True enough, the fact that Nintendogs was released in a bundle with a psychodelic pink DS model probably tells you all you need to know about the target audience. Indeed, the Japanese giant recently repeated the trick with a new 3DS colour matched with a sequel to the game, Nintendogs And Cats. The message couldn’t have been clearer if they’d scrawled men need not apply across the front of the box. I took a fair amount of stick for liking both titles. In fact, I still do.
But I haven’t been fazed by this. Gaming offers such a diverse range of entertainment that it seems odd to dismiss something as ‘for kids’. I enjoy a manly man’s game for men, playing as Manfred McMan, as much as anyone. At the same time, though, are my ever-valuable man points at stake if I also enjoy interacting with a virtual Labrador? Absolutely not.
Article by Chris Littlechild