A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The game reinforces being a responsible pet owner, being aware of an animal's needs, giving positive reinforcement, budgeting one's earnings,and emphasizes the value of practice and the importance of cleanliness.
Positive Role Models
Dora is a perfect role model as a pet owner. She's caring, nurturing, responsible, and still remembers the value of fun and play.
Ease of Play
The game is absolutely perfect for preschoolers to handle. Dora literally leads the player through every action. Older kids might feel reined in without the level of freedom that other virtual pet games offer, but for preschoolers, this is the right way to go.
The dog must be let outside to "tinkle."
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Products & Purchases
This game is, of course, part of the ever-growing line of Dora the Explorer products. The instruction booklet has ads for other Nick Jr video games on the back cover.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that any child who longs for a virtual pet game, but is not old enough to handle a title like Nintendogs or one of the Petz series, can find exactly what they're looking for in this preschool-friendly animal sim. The game is utterly wholesome, requires no reading, and has a beloved character to guide kids through every step of the pet-care and competition process.
Is It Any Good?
Virtual pet games can be very appealing to young kids, but many of them require a ton of reading and the memorization of long lists of rules and commands. Not so Dora Puppy, which was designed very astutely with preschool-age players in mind (It's unclear why the ESRB did not give the game an EC, Early Childhood, rating). If your kid can trace shapes and make noises, they can play it. After some initial tutorials, there's a element of freedom -- kids can mostly choose whichever activity they want, whenever they want to -- but Dora is always along for the ride, reminding the player what to do each time. Her constant presence -- and constant reiteration of controls -- is the kind of thing that would drive older kids crazy, but the intended audience will find it helpful and reassuring. Preschooler should love to nuzzle up to Dora Puppy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.