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Nintendogs review: Nintendogs

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The Good Imaginative and engaging. Utilises all the features of the DS. Lifelike graphics and characteristics. Appeals to a wide audience.

The Bad Can become repetitive. Embarrassing talking to your DS in public.

The Bottom Line This simulation is a satisfying virtual pet game with mass appeal that reaches beyond the average gamer.

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If the word "Tamagotchi" means anything to you, then you'll probably know all about the virtual pet craze of the early '90s. There was nothing cooler than carrying around a little plastic toy that you had to care for as if it were real -- now Nintendo is bringing the same concept back to life, bigger and better than ever!

Playing on the Nintendo name, Nintendogs is a simulation in which you buy and raise digital doggies -- feeding, grooming, and training them for contests just as you would real puppies. And puppies they forever will be -- the animals in Nintendogs live in a Peter Pan-esque world where they never grow up, remaining cute canines for as long as you look after them.

Your responsibilities begin at the Dog Kennel when you purchase your first puppy. There are three different versions of the game available in shops -- Labrador and Friends, Chihuahua and Friends, and Dachshund and Friends -- with the only difference being the breed of dogs available to you initially. You start off with a selection of six breeds to choose from, including the title breed (obviously) as well as Toy Poodles, Shetland Sheepdogs, Boxers and more. Each version of Nintendogs features 18 different dog breeds, which can all be eventually unlocked as you play through the game. A few already trained puppies are available for you to play with, which may influence the puppy you decide to take home. And the selection changes each time you enter the menu of a different breed -- giving you a diverse choice of colour, sex and personality.

Once you've chosen your pet, you have to name it. You do this by following the voice prompts and speaking into the DS microphone. After numerous repetitions, your puppy will recognise its name and you can then enter it into the game using the onscreen keyboard. Now that your puppy has learned its name, you can call it and start playing. Tapping the touch screen will get their attention, and you can speak into the microphone when the microphone icon appears on the screen. The puppies respond very enthusiastically to your attention with all the characteristics of a real pup, by barking, wagging their tail, panting and more.

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