A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a pet simulation game, not unlike Nintendogs. Rather than just training for fun, the dogs in this game are raised to be service dogs, ultimately being placed as a firehouse dog, police dog, or a lifeguard dog – and the training regimen fits these paths.
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What's it about?
DISCOVERY KIDS PUPPY PLAYTIME is the latest in pet simulators to hit the Nintendo DS, and this time rather than just play with a pet you take on the role of a trainer for a service animal. Choose one of three breeds and raise them from the age of two months through one year old, and watch as they learn simple commands and tougher actions like ignoring a cat.
Both a story mode and a free play mode are included. The story progresses through the aging of the dog while free play allows you to play any of the training games at any time. Most of the training exercises are fairly simple, a series of gestures on the touch screen or tapping a specific location to do a trick is all it takes. However, some of the later challenges rely on a very fast pace of taps on the screen, which can be quite demanding even for experienced gamers.
Is it any good?
Given the sheer amount of minigames and training exercises to do with your selected dog, Discovery Kids Puppy Playtime will provide many hours of entertainment. Since some of the challenges can be difficult, younger gamers will need some help playing, but the cute animals are sure to keep their interest when other things may have failed. Even when adult gamers tire of the monotony of these types of games, kids seem to want to keep coming back and checking on their pet – seeing them doing life saving tasks later in the game gives a great sense of ownership and pride as well. Puppy Playtime may not have the polish of titles like Nintendogs, but it stands proudly in that genre as a high quality title.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it is like to raise a real puppy. Is it as simple as the training here makes it seem, or do they think there is more to it than a few minutes to learn a new trick? And what makes some breeds of dog better suited to a task than others? Could a Beagle make a good firedog, or is a Dalmatian the best for the job?
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