A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Petz: Dolphinz Encounter is about finding, learning about, and coming to the rescue of a wide variety of sea animals. Players take pictures, analyze, and treat the wounds of these creatures; they can in no way harm them. The game also has a strong environmental/conservation theme, with part of the narrative focusing on the damage caused by oil spills. Unlike some other Petz games, which can be geared for kids who have just learned to read, this game features sophisticated text and more complex games, making it more suitable for slightly older children.
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What's it about?
The Petz games just keep coming. However, unlike other recent entries in the franchise, PETZ: DOLPHINZ ENCOUNTER has a relatively original look and feel. A story-driven game, players take on the role of either a male or female crew member on an advanced ship called the Delphis. Their objective is to travel the globe’s oceans and seas looking for, learning about, and, when necessary, aiding a variety of aquatic animals, from dolphins to whales to turtles. As you scan each animal, the game’s encyclopedia fills with trivial bits of data about them, like how spinning dolphins communicate with one another when they leap from the water. Players will also spend time hunting for the remains of animals on the seabed to augment their knowledge of sea creatures, removing tracking devices, treating injuries, and taking pictures.
Is it any good?
One of the best entries yet in Ubisoft’s Petz series, Dolphinz Encounter engages players with an interesting story that puts kids right in the wild. They can even use a picture of themselves in place of the game’s avatar, should they happen be using a camera-equipped DSi. Exploring the game’s three-dimensional ocean is a piece of cake -- just tap in the direction you want to swim. Plus, the minigames are diverse. Players will need to select and then employ the proper tools to carefully uncover animal skeletons on the seabed, tap or spin tracking devices to remove them from fish, and disinfect wounds and inject medicine to cure wounded animals by rubbing and sliding the stylus on the screen.
The only disappointment is in the animals themselves. They look nice enough, but they tend to simply swim in circles, and you can’t really interact with them in any meaningful way. That said, we understand that it must be difficult to visually capture the emotions of a whale compared to, say, a puppy or kitten. This one beef aside, Dolphinz Encounter is a great game for animal-loving kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about effects that pollution has on wildlife. Specifically, how do oil spills harm the animals that live in the places in which they occur? How can people mitigate the damage and work to save creatures that are affected?
Families can also discuss the authenticity of the animals depicted in this game. Do they look real? Do they act as you’d expect them to? What would you change about their behavior.
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