A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that these virtual cats won't die if neglected. The game encourages kids to take good care of their virtual cats over time so that they can win cat shows and more virtual dollars to spend on their pets or their home. To win a show, the player has to turn on the DS at least twice a day and care for the virtual pet. Depending on the kind of cat show, the game tracks the player's ability to care for a virtual pet over a period of one to five days.
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What's it about?
In PURR PALS, you select a kitten from the 40 different breeds, and then customize it by choosing its markings, eye color, and whiskers. You can also decide if your kitty is female or male, and name it. Your cat lives in your DS in a three-room abode with a garden where you care for it by petting, playing, feeding, and grooming it. You get a daily allowance to spend on food and other items for your cat, based on how attentive you are to your cat's needs.
You can add to your income by entering and winning cat shows, and by playing four Mini games. Our testers' favorite was the Music Game, which combines Dance Dance Revolution mechanics with Elite Beat Agents gameplay. You interact with your cat by selecting icons: Tap the hearts icon, for example, and you can pet your cat by simply rubbing your stylus over its body. Entering cat shows can also win you money, but there is nothing to them.
Is it any good?
While these kittens are cute, their antics were not enough to sustain the interest of our testers over time. The routine quickly changed from fun to obligation. Also, the game is buggy, with camera angles that stick your kitten's head into a wall and screens that freeze up, requiring you to reboot the game.
If you are thinking of getting a cat, this simulation may actually work to dissuade you. Cats are much more entertaining in real life. And the price of this game is a bit high, so you might want to rent instead of buy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether taking care of this virtual kitty is fun or an obligation. Do you like getting a new virtual kitty or do you feel attached to the first one you bought? Does playing this game make you want to own a cat? Did you notice the Purina advertising in the game?
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