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Joystiq presents

A look back at Nintendogs

While they eagerly await the release of the DS Lite this Friday, the fine folks at Eurogamer have taken it upon themselves to review Nintendogs: Dalmation & Friends and, in doing so, reevaluate the praise they heaped upon the game when it was first released. Though they still find it to be an innovative and remarkable achievement, they also discover that the repetition inherent in raising a puppy can be somewhat ... dogged.

Nintendogs certainly makes for an excellent showcase of the DS' technical abilities, but it's considerably less effective as a game. The interaction between polygonal puppy and player is amusing, even fascinating at first, but keeping your best friend happy soon starts to feel like a chore. And chores are never fun.

We already struggle to cram a few games into our hermetically sealed schedules -- a game that depends on you and requires constant attention doesn't quite fit in there. As a result, we now find ourselves in a situation exactly like the one Eurogamer is faced with. "The fact is, we haven't touched our original copy of Nintendogs for months now. As painful as this is to admit, our puppies are probably now completely, irretrievably mental and riddled with fleas. We're too frightened to boot up the game and find out, haunted by visions of their emaciated corpses being stripped to the bone by gargantuan rats (even though we know that Nintendogs cannot actually die on account of how much it would upset the kiddies)."

Poor Gonzo. If only your little puppy eyes could see my cold and uncaring heart.

Nintendo losing their Touch (Generations)?

If Nintendo's desires are realized, it won't be too long before the image of Grandpa hunching furiously over his DS Lite and murderously screaming "Blue" joins that of the bespectacled nerd in the ranks of uninformed gamer stereotypes. In an effort to reach out to those who would normally shy away from electronic devices and their confusing beeps and boops, several forthcoming and readily available DS games have recently been shoved under the Touch Generations banner. The range highlights Nintendo's popular "non-games", titles that are meant to be approachable by any person, regardless of their previous gaming experience.

In North America, games like Nintendogs, Brain Age and Sudoku Gridmaster seem to gravitate towards the label quite naturally, but it seems that the selection differs significantly from that of other regions. Anthropomorphic neighbour sim, Animal Crossing: Wild World, slots right in with Electroplankton in Europe, but the choices of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Trauma Center: Under the Knife seem to fit in less comfortably. The latter two titles are far more traditional, with linear stories, clear conditions for success and failure and, in the case of Trauma Center especially, a more pronounced difficulty level that requires intricate stylus strokes--lest your patient's internal organs become reduced to a bloody mush (technical term). In other words, all the stuff that the mythical casual gamer doesn't want.

The Japanese selection is almost the exact opposite, filled with English trainers, dictionaries and travel guidebooks. If you looked up "game" in one of those dictionaries, you'd likely find a description far removed from most of these titles. It raises an interesting question, then: What constitutes a game that, according to Nintendo's mantra, anyone can pick up and play? Is it a game that almost exclusively relies on intuitive touch screen controls? Or is it something with simplistic gameplay mechanics? Perhaps it's not even a game at all. Nintendo's pretty clear about the kind of people they're chasing with the DS and the Wii, but things seem less vivid when it comes to matching specific games with specific audiences. With games being such unique and often personal experiences, it's doubtful that the line between hardcore and casual will ever become especially obvious. 

Nintendogs: Dalmatian and Friends in time for Lite launch

Nintendo of Europe has announced that Nintendogs: Dalmatian and Friends will ship to canine-loving Europeans on June 16th for £30/40 Euros, just days before the DS Lite launch. A nice companion for the new DS design, the game will feature 6 breeds to choose from at the beginning of the game, and a total of 14 unlockable pup. There is sure to be a great variety of canines to play with and/or train come release. The canines in the game are the most popular breeds from the other Nintendogs titles, along with the given dalmatian breed.

Nintendogs: Dalmation and Friends info

Over at DS-X2, they unleashed the boxart and included a list of possible pets in what is to be released as Nintendogs: Dalmation and Friends from Nintendo of Europe. The boxart, which you won't notice over to your right, shows every fireman's best friend staring off in the distance, wishing you would take him/her for a walk and show him/her some attention. What is wrong with you? Why don't you pet him/her? Are you some kind of monster?!

The roster of possible pups in the game reads:

  • Dalmation
  • Boxer
  • German Shephard
  • Golden Retriever
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Beagle

More Nintendogs bound for Europe?

NoE Watch points out that one of the UK's largest retailers, Game, is now listing a new version of Nintendogs on their website. Nintendogs: Dalmation & Friends is now up for pre-order and presumably has that elusive spotted puppy (favored by Mr. Miyamoto) unlocked right from the start. With Nintendogs being a massive success in Europe and selling over 2 million copies, it makes sense that Nintendo would aim to grab some more cash from the people that simply can't get enough of obscenely cute polygonal puppies.

This does make me wonder--how many of you are still tending to their virtual puppies? I left mine to rot in his cartridge kennel a long time ago.

[Thanks Max!]

Sega doing the adorable puppy thing

We're not sure how many more adorable, yet invariably manipulative virtual puppies we can handle. It's bad enough that Nintendo tricked us into caring for a cleverly programmed lump of polygons with Nintendogs, and now it seems that Sega wants in on the pooch petting action. Famitsu's website reveals a new game from the house that Sonic built that features an array of obscenely colorful (and vaguely edible) puppies, along with plenty of equally cute mini-games. And yet...we can't possibly resist doggies playing Air Hockey. We just can't.

Of course, the rational, non-awwwww reaction to this would be to cry "copy", "clone" and "cash-in", but judging by the screenshots, it appears that this game focuses more on the aforementioned mini-games than actually caring for your pet. The screenshots are really all we have to go on, what with Google Translator devouring the page and spitting out the unhelpful "It probably will come in contact with the room DS tea dog of the tea dog!"

An in-depth investigation (we Googled it) reveals that Tea Dogs (Ocha-Ken) is actually an anime series that has already spawned a GBA game or two in the past. Given the massive success Nintendogs has enjoyed across the world, this might actually have a shot at coming to US shores.

[Via DS-x2]


Nintendogs sales take flight in Europe

A central weakpoint in the people of Europe has now been exposed: They simply can't resist the charm of Nintendo's obscenely adorable polygonal puppies. Nintendogs has now sold 2 million copies over there, with no signs of slowing down. Nintendo attributes this massive success (which eclipses both Japan and North America) to the game's wide appeal that incorporates female gamers. Yes, they have those in Europe too.

With the news out of the way, I should express my personal dislike for posting about Nintendogs. I got tired of the game quite a while ago, feeling that I didn't have enough time to properly take care of my puppy. Reminded of this by the news story, I quickly dismissed the urge to go play the game again. "Bah, I don't care about neglecting my dog. He's probably run away by now. I'm over that game." No sooner had I reached the end of the paragraph than I experienced the guilt, eating away at me like a termite infestation in a log cabin. "How could I be so cruel? I have to turn on my DS and check to see if little Gonzo is okay."

Damn you, Nintendogs, for making me worry so about a cleverly disguised chunk of programming code!

Nintendogs wins 2 AIAS trophies

Aww.Held at a glamorous Las Vegas location during this year's DICE summit, the 9th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards have seen fit to bestow two sparkling trophies upon Nintendo's hugely popular digital doggie distraction, trophies which have since been buried in the garden somewhere. The game tied with the PS2's Guitar Hero in the Outstanding Achievement in Gameplay Engineering category and got the nod for Handheld Game of the Year.

The rest of the awards list was dominated by God of War (PS2), a title which, interestingly enough, fits the traditional game mold far better than Nintendogs. It's very reassuring to see one of Nintendo's "non-games" have its day and get some meaningful recognition.

Nintendogs nominated for game of the year

NintendogsThe nominees for the 2006 Annual Interactive Achievement Awards have been announced. Leading the pack in the highly coveted "Game of the Year" catagory is America's sweetheart, Nintendogs.

Nintendogs released this official statement regarding the nomination: "Woof. Arroooof. Bow-wow, bow-wow." Roughly translated, the nominee states that, "It is just and honor to be nominated with this group. I mean God of War was a kick-ass game." (Thanks Babel Fish.)

Winners will be announced at the annual D.I.C.E. conference in February.

Nintendogs laps up awards

AwwwNo human being can resist the obscenely cute charms of Nintendogs, undoubtedly the game most worthy of the "DS killer app" label. This fact can easily be proven by simply taking your DS for a walk down the street and showing the game to any random person you might encounter. The universal reaction?

"Awww! Puppies are the bestest!"

A word of warning: Should you encounter a person that does not react in the abovementioned way (perhaps they shrug or stare at you blankly), know that you are dealing with either a homicidal maniac bent on seperating you from your vital organs or a robot that, due to a freak time-travel accident, is wandering your neighborhood in search of its toaster father. Running would be a very good option at this point, as would reiterating that the New York Times, USA Today, Parade and Time Magazine (of particular interest to the robot) have all heaped praise on Nintendogs and its lifelike puppies. Other notable appearances in the media include:

  • PC World: 2006 Innovation Award
  • Associated Press: Best Game of 2005
  • BusinessWeek: featured on Best Products
  • Entertainment Weekly: featured on The Must List
  • Chicago Sun Times: featured on the Game Of The Year list
  • FamilyFun.com: #1 on the Annual Video Game Toy Test
That's a lot of awards to list off...which is probably why you'd be better off with running.

[Via Joystiq]

Europeans obsessed with DS

Nintendo DSIt's true. People in Europe simply can't restrain themselves from buying Nintendo's portable wonder. More than 3.5 million units have been sold, almost all of them to people with exceedingly cool accents. The top-selling game since October has been the infinitely lovable Nintendogs, followed closely by the shell-spinning Mario Kart DS which saw release in November. The games have sold 1.6 million and 800,000 copies respectively and respectfully.

Of course, it's also noted that Animal Crossing: Wild World has yet to release over there, so one should expect another rise in sales and a fall in productivity to occur very soon indeed.

DS to blame for Nintendo market increase

DFC Intelligence has found a 15% increase in Nintendo's market value from February through December of 2005. Though no specific product or products were credited for the success, we can't help but acknowledge the Nintendo DS as the driving factor for the company's success. The article also mentions Sony's questionable PSP promotion of UMD's over games.

In related news, the firm found a 7% increase in total industry size. We've seen how Nintendogs has increased portable female gamers, but can the DS and Nintendo continue the trend? Here's hoping for DS Fanboys around the world that they can.

[via Revolution Europe]

Nintendo attracts the ladies

Trace MemoryAnd no, that headline is not meant to suggest that playing Nintendo games somehow makes you more attractive to the prettier sex. No, it actually refers to the fact that if you're playing Nintendo games, there's a reasonably good chance that you're female. The journey of self-discovery begins now!

The Siliconera crew reports that, according to Club Nintendo membership information, the Touch Generation series in Japan has managed to grab a significantly large female audience. The games that were considered were Adult Brain Training (women are smart!), Nintendogs (women are responsible!), another puzzle-based title, Yawaraka Atamu Juku (women solve problems!) and Woman, Make Me a Damn Sandwich (women can laugh at stupid jokes!). Approximately half of the gamers that bought Nintendogs were girls, with the same holding true for Yawarka Atamu Juku. About a third of those who bought Adult Brain Training were women.

It looks like Nintendo is becoming quite adept at tapping into that mysterious and ethereal female market, an achievement that had previously been reserved for games like The Sims. What's the secret? Adorable puppies? Intuitive interfaces? Really good games?

[via Siliconera]

Metacritic's best games of 2005

Metacritic Screen Grab
Everyone's a critic, right? Well, we know you are, since you just voted Mario Kart DS as the best DS game on the planet, and the beings of Polymutania IX would be hard pressed to disagree as their planet only got Burnout Legends as an alternative. It really does suck to be them.

It is Metacritic's goal to gather the reviews from all the critics in the universe and provide a single point for you to view them and decide whether or not a game is worth your time. Using the information they've managed to gather this year, Metacritic has unleashed their list of the best video games of 2005. Here are the completely unsurprising DS winners:

Game of the Year: Mario Kart DS
Dud of the Year: Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
Best Action Adventure: Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Best Fighting: Jump Superstars (According to those who imported it, anyway)
Best Platformer: Kirby Canvas Curse
Best Adventure: Animal Crossing: Wild World
Best Racing / Driving: Mario Kart DS
Best Puzzle / Rhythm: Meteos
Best RPG: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
Best Sports (Traditional): Fifa Soccer '06
Best Sports (Alternative / Extreme): Tony Hawk's American Sk8land
Best Strategy: Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Best Simulation: Nintendogs

Agree? Disagree? Apathetic? Frightened?

[via Joystiq]

Gamespot's Best and Worst of 2005 Nominees

Charlize TheronGamespot has kicked off their Best and Worst of 2005 awards extravaganza by announcing a list of all the nominees and the awards they are eligible for. Of course, the DS wormed its way into several of the categories, only getting truly snubbed in the "Best Use of Sweat" section. Come on developers, get your act together! We want sweat!

DS Nominations:

Funniest Game -
Animal Crossing: Wild World (What? No Mario & Luigi?)
Best Multiplayer Game - Mario Kart DS (duh)
Most Innovative Game - Trauma Center: Under the Knife, Trace Memory
Flat-Out Worst Game - Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, Peter Jackson's King Kong (note how both of these games lack realistic sweat)
Best Action Adventure Game - Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Best Platformer - Kirby Canvas Curse, Sonic Rush
Best Adventure Game - Trace Memory, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Best Driving Game - Mario Kart DS
Best Puzzle/Rhythm Game - Meteos
Best Strategy Game - Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Best Nintendo DS Game - Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Animal Crossing: Wild World, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Mario Kart DS, Nintendogs

There you have it. What are your predictions? Is there a DS game you feel got left out or didn't deserve a nomination?

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