Support Andy, click to buy via us...
As visiting reviewer Daran attests, there is more to a good game than graphics and play mechanics. Petz Dogz 2 on Wii may have been sniffed at by the hardcore gamers, but provides some unique daddy daughter time for family gamers. Over to Daran.
I was faced with a dilemma. We have just had a baby, my partner was clearly too occupied to spend time with me on the Wii, and I wasn't sure when I would ever see my friends again owing to the latest family incumbent. My daughter (just 4) doesn't yet have the co-ordination to play titles aimed at more serious gamers, so how could I get my moneys worth on a Wii game?
After careful consideration I decided that a long term strategy was needed. It seemed obvious; sacrifice my gaming pleasure and spend a couple of years playing children's games with my eldest. She would have great fun, quality time and laughs with her Dad, and I would end up with a fully co-ordinated and trained up gaming partner for the next 18 years or so. That was the theory anyway.
Family game reviews are thin on the ground and I am no gaming expert, so it was with a cautionary air that I splashed out on Petz Dogz 2 Wii after seeing the PEGI 3+ logo on the box. Upon loading the game, I was beginning to sweat. What if my daughter couldn't master the controls? What if it was too grown up for her?
I would end up with a fully co-ordinated and trained up gaming partner for the next 18 years or so. That was the theory anyway.
After an overly lengthy introduction to the game and its controls, the initial fears were soon dispelled. A tip I would give however would be to immediately increase the text scrolling speed. Unless your child can read you will spend a lot of time narrating the various conversations and dialog. I have to concede that this becomes tiresome and again overly lengthy.
The game has suitably sized environments for youngsters to remember their way around. Most of the action takes place on an island, with a few trips to slightly smaller nearby islands. After an hour of playing I was beginning to wonder if I would not only be needed for narration duties, but also to use the controller, as my daughter was struggling.
But just a couple of days later and it became apparent that the controls had been carefully thought out for this particular age group. Our dog (Apple) was successfully being handled by my daughter as she made him run, walk, sniff, talk, fish, call, bark and all manner of other things. My daughter especially liked to bark at animals minding their own business, and watch them jump in the air.
The mini games are too difficult for a 4 year old, but provide a welcome challenge for the accompanying adult. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed rescuing the animals and laughed away at the various tactical battles.
My daughter especially liked to bark at animals minding their own business, and watch them jump in the air.
I did start to wonder how long the novelty of this game would last, and if I would get my GBP 30 worth. Fears were once again dispelled as talk of the game began to dominate breakfast and dinner discussions. It was clear that my child was hooked, and I wasn't far behind. After a week or so I was being begged to play the game before I left for work. Over the next month I would estimate that we had played 50 hours of this game together, well worth the pennies.
Even though I found that the drawn out conversations grating, graphics and sound very ordinary I still enjoyed the whole experience because I could share it with my daughter. Although we have now completed the main game and rescued the animals, she still likes to wander across the virtual landscape ensuring everything is in order.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: