A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about responsible puppy ownership in this beautiful and intuitive pet simulation game. Players spend much of their time doing the sorts of things required when caring for real pets, from soaping and scrubbing them in a shower and providing them with food and drink to playing with them and teaching them tricks. They'll even pick up their poop, put it in a bag, and drop it into a waste bin. The player's incentive and reward is a happy, healthy pooch who adores them and is obedient to their commands. PlayStation Vita Pets' primary aim is to entertain, but its simulation activities will leave kids with a pretty good picture of the responsibilities and rewards that come with live pet ownership.
The game teaches kids to respect, enjoy, and look after puppies. They'll come to know the basics about what pets need to be healthy and happy and discover that dogs can make great, loyal friends.
Positive Role Models
Kids become their own role models in this game. As an unseen master, they'll carry out a series of positive, productive tasks to help a loving puppy grow, thrive, and become their friend.
Ease of Play
Simple in-game instructions lead kids through every part of the experience, from taking care of their puppies to going on adventures with them. The only problem players might run into is the occasional glitch (we encountered one in which the puppy got stuck walking near its master) that may force a quit and restart.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that PlayStation Vita Pets is a downloadable pet simulation game with an adventure twist. Kids get to adopt, care for, and play with a puppy of their choice, learning about responsible pet ownership in the process. They'll take their puppy out for walks in a vast park behind their house, following an adventure on a map that includes puzzles and challenges that incorporate the tricks and skills your pet learns. There's even a bit of (mildly crude) poop-and-scoop humor to help remind kids to clean up after their pups.
Is It Any Good?
PlayStation Vita Pets stands apart from other pet simulators in a lot of ways, all of them good. Precise voice recognition makes it feel like you're really communicating with the game's virtual animals. And the dogs talk as well, using words to express their excitement and crack some very funny jokes. This gives them memorable personalities -- something that's lacking in pets found in most other sims. Perhaps most important, though, is that kids get to go on adventures with their pets. This encourages them to apply the tricks and skills their puppies learn by having it dig for treasure, sit on rock slabs to solve a puzzle, or crawl under logs to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. It brings purpose to a genre in which purpose has always been sorely lacking.
That's not to say that the game is completely without issue. There's the occasional glitch, including one that forced us to quit out of the game and restart. Plus, an augmented reality activity that uses the Vita's camera to make it look like your puppy is walking around in the real world feels like a gimmick. These quibbles aside, this pet sim is a winner. It's filled with fun stuff to do, it's visually resplendent, and it costs only $19.99, making it one of the more affordable games in its category. PlayStation Vita Pets sets a high standard for what kids and parents ought to expect from pet simulation games.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.