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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The game is all about caring for your puppy and making new friends. Kids may be confused by the stranger messaging -- each new person you meet asks your name before telling you about their own dogs.
Positive Role Models
The people in town are polite and friendly, and emphasize how important it is to take good care of your pet.
Ease of Play
The game starts with a brief tutorial and the basics of the game are relatively simple. There are also a number of icons on the screen that are never explained and that aren't at all obvious. You'll need to click through these and read the descriptions. One of the menus has a set of tutorials, but those aren't obvious, either. The game doesn't auto save, which will be an issue for kids who are used to exiting with the 3DS Home button and closing from the Home screen.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Puppies 3D is a cute, feel-good puppy simulation game. The 3D graphics doesn't add much to the game and most kids won't notice or care if it's turned off. While this title has appeal for younger kids, it relies heavily on your ability to read. Even the icons aren't necessarily what you'd expect they would be. This isn't your preschooler's puppy game. In addition to the reading requirement, you'll take your cues from the puppy. It's obvious when he wants to be fed, but he'll let you know he needs to go for a walk by scratching on the floor. And once outside, your puppy will relieve himself, just like a real puppy would do. Puppies 3D utilizes all aspects of the 3DS, including Street Pass, augmented reality, and the camera (you can take pictures and use them to create rooms in-game). Nintendo does not recommend 3D viewing for kids ages 6 and under. The 3D effects can be disabled in the device's Parental Controls.
Is It Any Good?
Despite some navigation challenges, Puppies 3D is a fun game with nice graphics and plenty of things to do. Kids will love walking around town with their puppy on a leash, meeting new friends and going shopping. The puppies are adorable, and it's just cute to watch them fetch a ball or flying disc. It's even cooler to play with your puppy virtually in your own living room using the AR (augmented reality) cards that came with your Nintendo 3DS. Teaching them tricks can be a bit tedious, especially if you're eager to get it done, but you'll want to pull out the dog treats when you finally see your little puppy rolling over or shaking paws for the first time. This is a gem of a game, only slightly hampered by an overcomplicated icon system.
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.