Nintendogs? Old and busted. Wappy Dog? New hotness. Maybe.
When it comes to virtual pets, Nintendo is the undisputed king with Nintendogs and more recently, Nintendogs + Cats.
That said, Activision hopes to take the crown with Wappy Dog, a revolutionary DS game that lets players care for their own digital canine, but there's a twist. Not only do they interact with a digital Wappy, but also a real one.
Well, sort of.
Turns out, the bundle comes with a tiny and adorable toy puppy that can learn tricks, play games and even speak to its master. The idea is to teach kids (and perhaps some adults) how to care for a real dog from puppy to adulthood, being mindful of its safety, personality and performing different tasks, such as feeding and bathing the animal.
How players interact with Wappy determines its constantly evolving personality. Commands issued through the DS transfer to the robotic puppy, causing it to wag its tail, bark, perform tricks or mope; do not pull its tail.
Wappy will answer 18 conversational prompts with over 350 responses, which may or may not include singing and performing the moonwalk.
In addition, being kind to the puppy is key to unlocking its many tricks. The goal is to build a strong friendship between pet and owner while achieving rewards along the way.
In fact, the developers convey emotion through five colors in Wappy's cheeks. Keep Wappy entertained and content, and the dog will obey on command. Do something mean (again with the tail) and it'll be uncooperative and stubborn.
On top of that, players can also enjoy various mini games alone with Wappy or with friends. The more games they play, the stronger the bond with the dog becomes.
And, like Nintendogs, gamers can give their new pet a nickname it will instantly recognize.
Finally, gamers have two modes to choose from, Home and Travel. The latter lets players care for Wappy inside their DS systems while on the go. Then, when they come home, the progress gets uploaded to the toy.
From what we've seen, Wappy Dog looks incredible. At the same time, it also seems a bit late for DS, a system that's clearly on its way out. We just hope families take notice amidst the launch of Sony's Next Generation Portable and the growing demand for Nintendo's own 3DS. Based on the trailer, though, this appears to be one of the year's hottest holiday gifts. Look for it this fall/winter.