On this week's edition of Love/Hate, Tom Dalis explains his mixed feelings towards Nintendogs...
[subhead]Love: Cute Puppies[/subhead]
Seriously, who doesn't love cute little puppies? If you don't love cute little puppies you must be some kind of robot. Not just any robot either - some evil terminator-like device sent back by our future feline overlords to assassinate the leader of the underground canine resistance. Assuming you aren't a killer cyborg, Nintendo has you covered when it comes to the "awww" factor. All the cutest breeds of dogs are there: Shiba Inu, Pug, Jack Russell, Husky, Lab, and my personal favorite, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
[subhead]Hate: That I Bought This Game[/subhead]
Look, I have never hung out with Tom Nook in Animal Crossing or virtually flirted with a virtual woman in a virtual hot tub in MySims. Not that they are bad games; I just enjoy playing games with defined goals and challenges. So why did I purchase Nintendogs? Look, it was for my girlfriend, alright? She got me a white DS all the way from Japan and when I went to pick up my first couple games I thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to pick Stephanie up a game that she could play? She loves dogs!" I had absolutely no interest in the game myself. No interest in those cute little virtual pups with their cute little... what?
Oh yeah, no interest what so ever.
[subhead]Love: Touch Screen Implementation[/subhead]
Nintendogs was one of the first DS games (along with Canvas Curse) to really get touch screen usage right. It wasn't just shoehorned into an existing concept; the game was built around the touch screen and wouldn't be nearly as immersive without it. Scrubbing your dog clean with the stylus, flicking your wrist to send a Frisbee flying, or simply scratching a puppy behind its ear is so much more rewarding and entertaining with the touch screen.
[subhead]Hate: Bark Mode[/subhead]
Nintendo wants us to play together, right? That's why they include exclusive features and items in their games that can only be unlocked by linking up with other gamers. This is cool with me in theory; anything that encourages social gaming, in a hobby that is perceived as antisocial by its very nature, is good. In practice however, things don't turn out quite that way. I am a grown man; if you saw me with my DS and a copy of Nintendogs out on the street looking to "swap presents" with you, would you: A) nod sagely and whip out your pink limited edition Japanese DS Lite; B) dismiss me as a harmless crazy and move on with perhaps a silent lament to our under-funded public mental health programs; or C) frantically reach for your cell phone to have the police come and throw me in the clink for being at best a public nuisance and at worst a child molesting serial murderer? I bet you chose C.
[subhead]Love: Flies Buzzing Around A Filthy Dog[/subhead]
This might seem like a strange thing to love, but it's the little touches like this that make Nintendogs charming. This level of polish and detail are present in almost every first party-developed Nintendo game and Nintendogs is no exception. Witness: the lifelike animation, the little Nintendo references and easter eggs, the slick and intuitive interface. Even if you hate Nintendo, you have to give them credit: they polish like no other developers.
[subhead]Hate: Dog AI[/subhead]
I praised the small things that Nintendo did well, so I have to take them to task for a large feature they dropped the ball on: AI behavior of the different dog breeds. All the dogs act too similarly. I want aggressive behavior out of big dogs, annoying yips out of small dogs, and more personality out of the dogs in general.
[subhead]Love: That My Girlfriend Is Playing My DS[/subhead]
It's cool that we can share a hobby.
[subhead]Hate: That My Girlfriend Is Playing My DS[/subhead]
Actually, it's not cool at all. Can I play Contra 4 now?