Review: Cats & Dogs: Pets at Play

Cats & Dogs: Pets at Play Review

Assuming that you either own a 3DS or have owned a DS in the past then it's more than likely that you will have experienced a game in the Nintendogs series at some point, which is basically a lovingly crafted pet simulation where you get to look after, play with or even enter your dog or more recently cat of choice into competitions to win ribbons. Overall it's regarded as being the first of its kind to replicate such an experience with such a degree of detail even earning a prestigious 40/40 in Famitsu so understandably not long after this game was released on the DS the imitators followed and this trend is now continuing on the 3DS as history repeats itself.

Now imagine that you are in the position of looking for this type of game to buy for a child perhaps a younger sibling so you see Nintendogs + Cats on the shelf looking nicely presented with its pastel coloured logo coupled with a heart-warming photo featuring some of the cutest puppies/kittens you've ever seen that's actually representative of the in-game visuals and then strategically placed next to it you have Cats & Dogs with its poorly textured furry logo accompanied by a very forced looking photo of a very stern-faced puppy protecting a very worried kitten... which would you choose? Surely it would be an easy choice knowing that Nintendogs is more polished but you'd be surprised at just how many people would go for the 'copycat' title when the difference in price is around ten whole pounds but if you want to know exactly what you get for your money then read on.

Cats & Dogs: Pets at Play Review

Fortunately the game isn't terrible as the box would seem to suggest, indeed it's actually perfectly competent as it mostly does what you'd expect it to much like a reasonably well-trained dog, but every so often the 'animal' will do things that are far from desirable which is the only real way to explain away the game's poor execution. It's basically as if all of the right elements are there for it to be a decent sim but when you take a step back and look at what has already been achieved elsewhere it falls desperately short. Take the number of available breeds for example, which totals eight, four of each animal, then look at Nintendo's original game which features no less than twenty-seven different breeds, it soon becomes apparent that while this third party effort may be cheaper you don't actually get real value for money so it quickly becomes false economy.

But lets not be too hard on the title because it does set out what it originally intends to do, which is to provide a perfectly playable simulation, so after picking your precious pet, naming it, hopefully nothing too offensive, followed by presumably feeding it you're ready to partake in one of the many (sixteen) mini-game that range from being genuinely entertaining to exercises in tedium, though to be fair you are going to get that when you have a collection of such activities as inevitably you'll have a firm favourite - mine happened to be Frisbee, whereas many simply won't get played again or at least very rarely.

When you've taught your furry friend a few tricks, which is mostly a process of trial and error, you can enter them into competitions with the allure of being able to win cash which you can then spend on a multitude of accessories for your pup or kitten. Of course there is a decent selection but again it's undeniable that there's nothing cooler than seeing your pet wear Mario's cap, which is clearly something you aren't going to see here but it's still a solid effort for what it's worth. You might also happen upon certain items when you're taking your pet on their, hopefully daily, walk that can be worth your time picking up, just don't let them go jumping into the dreaded piles of leaves or something terrible might befall them... or they'll just get a little dirty.

Naturally if the aforementioned does happen then you can of course clean your pet by bathing them you can even brush their fur so they look presentable once again. The level of interaction between you and the animal is reasonably good but somehow I didn't really feel that much of a connection, another thing that didn't make it across in the transition of sorts. Keeping in mind that this is merely a budget title many of the faults are forgiveable but only to a point so there's always going to be that niggling thought in the back of your mind thinking 'Why didn't I just buy Nintendogs?' but if you're someone who enjoys these kind of simulations then you might get a reasonable level of enjoyment from it.

Cats & Dogs: Pets at Play Review

Visually everything is of a reasonable amount of detail, though if I were to compare it to anything it honestly looks like something that could have been achievable on the original DS rather than something that showcases what the 3DS can do, obviously the 3D effect is there but with it turned off you're soon made aware of the graphical shortcomings. Audio is nothing too offensive, pretty much what you'd expect really but again there is nothing here that really stands out at all, meaning that these elements only manage to reinforce the average feeling of the game.

Overall there's enough here to keep younger gamers occupied, especially if they aren't aware of the differences between this and other titles, it may even keep them entertained for a little while but to recommend it to anyone else who knows or should know of better alternatives is asking the impossible. Clearly enough effort has gone into this clone to make it feel like Nintendogs but it's just not made to the same standard which clearly lets it down. You'll get something out of it but not perhaps what you might have been expecting.

N-Europe Final Verdict

If you're looking for the full package then buy Nintendogs but if you're strapped for cash then you could go for this cheaper, playable alternative but just don't be surprised if you end up feeling slightly short-changed.

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability3
  • Visuals3
  • Audio3
  • Lifespan2
Final Score


Fun for a short while
Decent variety of minigames


Belowpar visuals
Average audio
Lacking number of breeds
Overly unconvincing

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