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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Nintendo is going to the dogs!

I'd never heard of this at all until I saw a commercial for it earlier tonight. Ever since I've spent a good part of the evening hunting down any bit of info I could find about it. The more and more I'm finding, the more captivated I'm becoming with the idea of this lil' gimmick.

Coming out next week for the Nintendo DS (which along with its own price drop might be another good reason to finally put this on the Christmas wish list) is Nintendogs. At first look I thought this was gonna be something like those darned annoying Tamagotchi "virtual pets" that were all the rage several years ago (how many kids wailed in mourning after finding their precious Tamagotchi perished from malnutrition during their fifth-period spelling test? No wonder they were singled out for banning by many schools). It has some characteristics similar to Pokemon (which was a concept I dug a lot more). But otherwise Nintendogs is in a class all its own: it's a 3D puppy simulator that puts ALL the things that come with dog ownership (including having to break out the pooper-scooper) into the palm of your hand. Coming in three varieties (Chihuahua, Dachshund, and Lab), each one gives you about five different breeds of dog to choose from. Then you choose sex, then coat of fur, and then naming the dog... which is where the Nintendo DS's built-in microphone comes in. Yup, turns out you can actually speak commands to your digital doggie and he'll roll over, fetch the ball or bark. You gotta feed and water Fido too else he looks sickly and malnourished after a few days of no playing (I've no idea how far Nintendo is taking THAT part of the concept). Bring the system to nearby DSes that also have Nintendogs loaded and your pooch will "sense" other dogs in the vicinity and supposedly play with them if they are friendly or grow at them if they are not. And a ton of other stuff that sounds pretty amazing.

Nintendogs are apparently THE hot thing in Japan right now and based on early word they're gonna be a hit on this side of the pond too. Why? Well, if they're this realistic a simulation of a dog as it purports to be, this may be a nice thing to "tide ya over" if you're in a situation (like me) that it's not feasible to have a dog for the time being... but you still can't help being a dog lover. So help me I'm tempted to run out first thing next week and buy a Nintendo DS and the Dachshund edition 'cuz I'm a bigtime lover of weiner-dogs! I mean, how can you resist a videogame box that looks like this...?!

Anyway, I thought Nintendogs was well worth a mention here. Do a Google News search for the latest on these virtual bow-wows and there's a nice writeup about them already at USA Today.

And if you REALLY wanna see how cool this is, watch this MPEG-format video from Nintendo that shows off Nintendogs potential.