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 the best virtual pet program we have ever seen. The puppy mannerisms are so realistic that it's easy to become attached to your virtual dog. Be forewarned that these puppies are so endearing that your kids are likely to put pressure on you to get a dog. Also, if you decide to let your child put the program in "Bark" mode, you will want to pay attention to who is meeting your child's Nintendog.
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What's it about?
NINTENDOGS comes in three versions: Lab & Friends, Chihuahua & Friends, and Dachshund & Friends. Players select a puppy from a group of frolicking dogs at the kennel. The puppies vary in breed, looks, personality, and gender. Once you select a puppy, it goes home with you; and then the real fun begins. You can train your puppy to respond to its name and other voice commands by repeating the commands into the microphone. You bond with your puppy by petting it with your DS stylus and playing games using balls or discs. Ideally, you should feed and water your puppy daily and take it on walks. And if you don't want it to get fleas, you will need to bathe your puppy periodically. All of this, of course, costs money, which you earn by entering your pup in dog competitions.
Is it any good?
In Nintendogs, the puppies you can adopt are nothing short of adorable; they're hard to resist because their mannerisms are so lifelike and their attention is focused on you. If you get hooked on Nintendogs, you can acquire up to eight dogs at a time, although only three can live with you at once (the other five must reside at the doggie hotel and can be "swapped").
Parents, be forewarned that these puppies are so endearing that your children are likely to put pressure on you to get a dog. Peggy Brummond, mother of kid-tester Shane, was impressed that "puppies seem so real and that the game teaches responsibility." For families where real dog ownership isn't desired or possible, Nintendogs is a fun way of experiencing some of the pleasures of owning a dog.
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