Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"Nintendogs" the Next Best Thing To a Real Pup?

Personally, I don't think I would fall for an animated dog in a handheld game console. One may need to already have an emotional bond with the console to fully appreciate the cuteness of this development.

By Matt Slagle

From DigiMon to Tamagotchi, there are dozens of choices for the virtual pet lover.
The latest, "Nintendogs," ($30, rated E) debuts in the United States next week, exclusively for the Nintendo DS handheld game machine.

Available in Japan for months, "Nintendogs" is a lifelike digital rendering of perhaps the most universally admired of all domestic animals: puppies.

It's a superb example of just how interactive the DS can be with its microphone, built-in wireless and two screens -- one of them touch sensitive.

The dogs are shown in 3D and do an amazing job of mimicking the real thing: they'll sniff around, pant and bark when excited. (They even engage in some unpleasant but necessary business).

The DS touch screen and microphone are ingeniously used. You can "rub" your pet by stroking it on the bottom screen.

You teach your pet various tricks by speaking into the microphone, then rewarding your dog with a rub on the back or behind the ear.

"Nintendogs" is real time, so it's important to frequently check on your pup.

I neglected Huggy for two days and returned to find him thirsty, hungry and in no mood to play.

Guilt-ridden, I gave him a bowl of food and water, which he quickly gulped down. He then curled up and took a nap.

Checking on Huggy isn't the chore I thought it would be -- it's fun teaching him how to beg, shake, play catch and take walks around the virtual block.

After only a few weeks, I've already formed an emotional attachment with my pixelated pup.

"Nintendogs" the Next Best Thing To a Real Pup


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