Petz: Dolphinz Encounter Game Poster Image

Petz: Dolphinz Encounter

Ocean animal simulator is fun, educational, and eco-minded.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Players learn about and help sea animals. They are provided tools to tend to their wounds, given a camera to take pictures, and unlock bits of trivia by closely examining them. There is also a strong environmental theme, with a narrative element that focuses on the damage caused by oil spills.

Positive role models

Players become members of the crew of a boat that travels the world looking for animals so that they can categorize them and help them if they are hurt or trapped. All of the player’s actions are for the good of the animals.

Ease of play

All controls are based around the touch screen. Swimming about 3D environments is a snap—just tap in the direction you want to move. And most of the minigames are fairly easy to learn, requiring just a few taps, swipes, or circular motions with the stylus. Photography is perhaps the trickiest part, since the animals are always moving and you have to both tap the screen and press a shoulder button to snap a picture.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

This game is part of Ubisoft’s quickly expanding line of Petz games for Nintendo’s DS.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Players use a syringe to inject medicine into injured fish.

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.

Parents say

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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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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.

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
Price:$29.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:UbiSoft
Release date:October 23, 2009
Genre:Simulation
ESRB rating:E for (No Descriptors)

This review of Petz: Dolphinz Encounter was written by

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Kid, 9 years old January 8, 2010

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love it
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models