A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
What's it about?
In PLAYSTATION VITA PETS -- a downloadable pet simulation game -- kids select and adopt a puppy to care for. As in most pet sims, players spend much of their time looking after and training their new four-legged friends. They can feed them, dress them up, wash them, and play with them using a variety of toys, including balls, Frisbees, and tuggers. The pups can learn more than a dozen tricks that they'll perform by either touch gestures or simple voice commands. Players can even give a pet a name, which the animal will learn and respond to when kids speak it. Eventually, the pets can be taken outside to embark on a semi-fantastical adventure to hunt down pieces of a map and look for a special puppy tunic from a virtual storybook. Filled with exploration, puzzles, and challenges, this quest lets kids put their pets' skills and tricks to the test, allowing them to return home to engage in more traditional pet sim activities whenever they like.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about pets. What sorts of responsibilities come with looking after a living creature? Do certain animals make better pets? What do you get in return for the work of taking care of a puppy?
Talk about the ways you can interact with PlayStation Vita Pets' animals. What parts of the game feel most authentic? Calling out your pet's name to get its attention? Using your voice to tell it to perform various tricks? Making gestures using the touchscreen to pet and direct your puppy?
- Platforms: PlayStation Vita
- Subjects: Science: animals
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: June 3, 2014
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- ESRB rating: E for Crude Humor, Mild Fantasy Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.