Nintendogs + Cats review: Nintendogs + Cats is a pet simulator in which your pups and moggies are placed in the virtual fishtank of the your 3DS's top screen.
Nearly every feature of the original Nintendogs on DS has found its way into the sequel; your dogs can be trained to respond to voice commands, made to compete, walked around the neighbourhood, washed, fed, played with, stroked - all through the touchscreen, microphone and camera.
The introduction of cats is less of a deal than we'd hoped for. They're expensive, and can't be chosen as your first pet. You can't enter them into competitions, they regularly ignore your calls, they can't be taught tricks and you can't take them for walks.
Instead they're more fun to simply observe as they interact with your other pets. They'll hiss at overly playful pups, only to paw at them as they try to nap. They kip on shelves, chase shiny things and are chased by the jealous, attention-demanding dogs.
It's unfortunate that petulant kittens are a sideshow when it comes to outdoor activities - a few cat-based competitions wouldn't have gone amiss, even if they ended up as simple kitty fashion shows.
Competitions see the return of the Flying Disc contest and Obedience Trials, the latter of which uses the 3DS's AR card to project your pup into the real world as he attempts to carry out your voice commands.
These judge-pleasing tricks are taught through adorable storybook-style tutorials, showing how to wave your hands at your dog to have him carry out a trick before you utter an associative command into the 3DS microphone.
Flying Disc challenges have remained much the same - you throw the frisbee using the bottom screen and win points for successful catches.
Lure Coursing is a new introduction, though. These are essentially races in which you control a bauble attached to a retractable string, reeling it in like a fish as your doggy runs towards it. The aim is to keep the lure close enough to your dog for it to keep up pace - not so close that your pooch catches it, and not so far that it gives up and defiantly jabs its nose into another dog's backside instead.
The training for all of these activities is achieved by walking your pet, and Nintendogs + Cats introduces several new areas in which to stroll. Even simply walking on a lead is something at which your dog can improve. Young pups will wee wherever they please, chew on binbags, terrorise other dogs and roll in mucky puddles.
On your walks you'll have the option to visit gyms, parks and beaches to train for the Lure Coursing and Flying Disc competitions. You'll also discover unique and occasionally rare Barc stores selling obscure dog and cat accessories as well as cafés selling snacks for hungry pups and offering a place to meet some of the weirder dog owners in the game.
These dog-lovers will pass you as you walk, too, chiming in with sometimes-helpful advice as your dogs either hit it off or become mortal enemies.
Fluff And Nonsense
You can also take your Nintendogs for literal walks using the 3DS pedometer, with rewards for the number of steps you've taken. Biscuits are the typical bounty for short trips to the loo, while longer treks will shower you in toys, piggy banks and other miscellanea.
You'll also come across these items on in-game walks, and, once you've exhausted the range of competitions and tricks the game has to offer, they become the only real reason to keep playing, bar an illogical emotional attachment to something as alive as a pair of googly eyes sellotaped to a rock.