PlayStation Vita Pets

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
PlayStation Vita Pets Game Poster Image
Excellent pet simulator combines animal care and adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

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. 

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

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.

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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?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love animals

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