There are plenty of games out right now for the PS Vita that can suit anyone’s tastes. From visual novels to first person shooters, there’s a game for everyone. But there is one genre that’s missing: a pet simulator. The Nintendo 3DS has one in Nintendogs, so where is Sony’s answer? It’s right here with Playstation Pets. There’s a difference though, as these dogs can speak, don’t need a leash, and did I mention that these dogs can talk?? It’s a fresh take on a simulator game that offers exploration, training and a chatty dog.
Gameplay – 5/10 Playstation Vita Pets is a part simulator, part adventure game, and part system demo. You start off the game with your brand new adopted puppy and you can choose from a Collie, Dalmatian, Husky, and a
Labrador. During the initial tutorial, you are taught how
to play fetch, feed, buy clothes, toys and bathe your dog all using the PS
Vita’s touchscreen, gyroscope, microphone, front and rear camera. All of these
are used hand-in-hand to level up the skills of your pup in the form of mini
games. This in turn will provide your dog with the necessary skills to actually
progress through the game. This all sounds great in theory until it’s actually
time to start playing the game. The voice commands (You give your dog a name),
sometimes work. Protip: the dog will come to you even if you don’t call his/her
name which in my opinion, defeats the purpose. The touch controls are hit and
miss as well. Petting your dog for buddy points can get frustrating as the game
doesn’t register right body part when you think you are scratching the dog the
correct way. Buddy points are one form of currency that will let you buy
abilities/toys/clothes/accessories from the shop. A lot of them are essential
for progressing through the game. This leads to a grind fest that I wasn’t in
the mood for, especially in the beginning of the game. In order to move on, 500
BP is needed and you can only fetch and scratch your dog so many times before
it becomes a boring mess. Unfortunately, this is a major part of the game and
there’s no way to avoid it. Another negative for me is navigating the camera.
The game is played in the first person and the right and left stick are used
for camera motion. I can’t count how many times where I can’t look to where I
want and I have to force to look one way by pointing at a door or ball. It sometimes detracts from the experience and
for the most part, it affected my experience.
Story - 3/10 The story is based in the world of Castlewood, an area that’s completely beautiful and lush with greenery, castles and a wide open world where you and your pet can run around and cause trouble. The story is told through a pop up book in your house. Once you’ve leveled up your pet enough, more of the world will open up to you. But the further you advance the story; you end up back at the house to level up your pet. I think I’m pretty tired of the house. In the end here isn’t much of a story as I would like and being as this is aimed for younger children, I’m ok with it.
Replay- 7/10 Being that the game is a part simulator, part story driven game, there are plenty of reasons to come back for more. With lots of accessories and plenty of time to max out the skills of your pup, one can come back to the game and grind those buddy points for some good loot. Although, all dogs play the same, there’s really no need to try another dog unless you want to start over with Lassie or Rin Tin Tin.
Graphics/Sound – 8/10 Vita Pets is a beautiful game, dare I say it’s one of the best that’s available on Sony’s portable. The colors are lush and eye popping and beautiful. A lot of work was put into making this a visual pleasing game. You’ll come to appreciate the small details that were included in the game ranging from the cute outfits to bathing your dog. While the game is a looker, I wish I could say the same about the audio. While the music is generally enjoyable, the dog’s voices made me turn down the volume. Lines are repeated and a little too upbeat for my tastes. No matter what you do, your dog is too happy. I wish there was more variety in the dog’s lines and delivery. After playing for a bit, I’ve felt that I have heard every line in the game times two.