A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zhu Zhu Puppies is a pet sim that asks kids to do a series of pet-related "chores" (some of these are non-chores, like "pet the dog") in order to earn an allowance. The allowance can then be spent on new items for the puppy. Be aware that the game encourages kids to play it every single day in order to earn more allowance and unlock new chores/games. Also note that the male and female puppies are described in incredibly stereotypical ways that assign almost all positive attributes to the male dogs.
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What's it about?
In ZHU ZHU PUPPIES, you will be charged with completing a list of pet-related chores every day in order to earn an allowance that you can then spend on puppy supplies and accouterments. The chores must be performed in three minutes in order to earn the full allowance. This is easy to do, though. Chores involve things like petting the puppy, feeding the puppy, and taking the puppy outside to go potty. Most chores are completed with a few simple scribbles or taps of the stylus. Once chores are done, you can replay the same few games (like fetch) as often as you want. There will be nothing new to do until the next actual day.
Is it any good?
From the moment you're asked to choose a puppy to adopt in Zhu Zhu Puppies, you're left with a bad taste in your mouth. How can you feel good about impressionable kids hearing that boy dogs are brave and intelligent, while girl dogs are prissy and dramatic? But once you move past that unappealing notion and get to the game itself, you'll find that it's pretty boring. There's not much entertainment in filling a dog bowl by tapping it. And after three minutes, you literally have nothing new to do. You have to put your DS away until the next day when you'll be given a list of chores again -- and maybe you will have earned a new one by then. Eventually, you'll have more variety, but running this game on a real-time clock seems like a poor idea when there's so little to do in the first several days. There are much better pet sims out there.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gender stereotypes. Only boy dogs are described as smart or having leadership qualities. Does this mean that girls can't be intelligent or commanding? Only girl dogs are described as enjoying cuddling. Does this mean boys don't need affection? How can descriptions like these hurt both boys and girls?
Did playing this simulation game make you want to own a pet?
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