December 5th, 2005

Virtual Best Friends for just $29.99

Interesting article about emotional connection to the virtual puppies available with the Nintendogs game for the Nintendo DS. Although I love my DS, I don’t have this game, as our real puppies don’t leave much time for playing with virtual ones. But I can see how people get addicted to a game where the virtual pups are so close to the real thing that they can provide a substitute for the emotional connection:

It’s rewarding when your digital dogs bring you a present, upsetting when they try to eat trash on walks, and they’re so cute that when you find a big green floppy hat you want to make them wear it until you see in their little faces that they know the big green floppy hat is really a form of humiliation and you half-reluctantly take it off.

Anyway, while Nintendogs isn’t my cup of tea, it’s nice to see that there’s at least some innovation in the games industry beyond First Person Shooter 3: Extreme! Nintendo seems to be one of the last players left offering any real innovation, and thankfully it seems to be working out for them. As a result, Nintendogs has sold more copies than any title on the much-hipper PSP. By the same token, while the Xbox 360 seems to have great technology but same-old, same-old games, the forthcoming Revolution with its wand-like controller that senses its position and orientation in space promises a whole new category of gaming. (You really have to see it in action to get what this means.)

But with the success of Nintendogs, there’s always the chance Nintendo will fall into the endless-sequel trap, too. On the other hand, as Slashdot poster Jacius points out, the logical successor mightn’t be so much fun. Consider the merits of Nintencats:

  • Your Nintencat won’t come when you call its name, thanks to the DS microphone!
  • Don’t teach your Nintencat tricks using the touch screen and stylus!
  • Don’t take your Nintencat for walks and explore the neighborhood!
  • Don’t compete in disc-fetching and agility trials!
  • Real time! Your DS will start wailing and making loud thumping and scratching noises when you’re trying to sleep, and you won’t be able to find where your Nintencat is napping during the day!
  • Set the game on “Hiss Mode” and close the DS, and Nintencats will use Wi-fi to detect other nearby Nintencats and get in fights with them!

Hmm. Maybe not.

One Response to “Virtual Best Friends for just $29.99”

  1. Jazmin Anders says:

    1) your nintencat probably wont come when you call it, but you could always train it to.
    2) you CAN train cats to do tricks, you just have to find the right insentive.
    3) Cats are usually entered in beauty competitions.
    4) You can give cats cats catnip and they act like thier drunk, and its funny.