Petz: Dogz Talent Show

 
Basic-but-fun pet sim is best suited for young kids.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The primary theme in this pet simulator is responsible pet ownership. Players are encouraged to engage in activities with their animals and respond to their needs, allowing them to sleep and eat as required.

Positive role models

Players take on the role of a dog owner who looks after and trains up to eight animals in his or her home. You cannot be cruel or mistreat your virtual animals, and the only means to progress is to engage in activities that make your pets healthier and happier.

Ease of play

All controls are based around the touch screen and very simple to learn. Kids with a first or second grade reading level shouldn’t have any trouble figuring things out.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

This game is part of Ubisoft’s growing line of Petz products, and can interface with other Petz games and services, including Petz: Nursery and Petz.com. This could lead children to pine for more Petz-branded items.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Petz: Dogz Talent Show is a straightforward pet simulator aimed at young children. Players need only be able to read the occasional short, simple instructive sentence to figure out how the game works, and goals are basic and immediate enough that kids shouldn’t get confused as to what to do next. What’s more, the message here is responsible pet ownership through proper feeding, petting, and playing. Other than the occasional bit of humorous puppy flatulence, there is nothing untoward about the action on screen. One thing parents might want to note, though, is that the game is designed to interact with other Petz properties, including Petz.com and Petz: Nursery (another DS game). This could leave kids hounding moms and dads for more Petz products.

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What's it about?

Yet another entry in Ubisoft’s rapidly expanding line of games under the Petz brand, PETZ: DOGZ TALENT SHOW is a pretty basic pet simulator. Players purchase a pup from the pet store, then take it home where they can play with it, train it, pet it, feed it, and watch it sleep. The dog’s skills slowly grow as players get better at leading it through an obstacle course and playing Frisbee with it. Eventually players will be able to take it to the talent stadium where the dog can show off what it’s learned. All of the activities and objectives are simple enough that children with a first-grade reading level ought to be able to figure things out on their own with minimal assistance.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Petz: Dogz Talent Show’s animals are cute to look at and animate well -- both key elements to any successful pet simulator. What’s more, players can interact with them in fun ways, like throwing balls and Frisbees with the stylus and then watching short movies showing how the animal acrobatically bounds off walls and furniture to catch them. The only game that stands out as disappointing is the skateboarding activity, which requires the DS to be flipped upside down and has players steering by tapping the screen. It’s a bit awkward and not much fun.

Most of the minigames are unlocked in the first hour, which might make it seem as though the game is very short. However, it takes quite a while for the puppies to grow up and make become skilled enough to go to the talent stadium. Plus, players can train up to eight pets at a time, and eventually breed them, providing something to look forward to later in the game. It’s not the deepest or most original pet sim around, but it’s got the basics covered and delivers a good, clean message about responsible pet ownership. Young dog lovers will likely have a great time with it.

Online interaction: This game allows children to upload pictures of their animals to Petz.com, where they can be shared with friends. Kids will neither see nor interact with any other players during this process.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about proper pet care. Have you ever owned a dog? Do you think this game does a good job of emulating the responsibilities involved? What doesn’t the game cover?

  • Families can also discuss whether this game might help prepare a child for pet ownership. Do you think its activities are authentic enough to make kids think about the amount of time and energy that must be devoted to one’s pets?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
Price:$29.99
Available online?Available online
Developer:UbiSoft
Release date:November 17, 2009
Genre:Simulation
ESRB rating:E for Comic Mischief (Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi)

This review of Petz: Dogz Talent Show was written by

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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