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Jun 9, 2008

Review: The Dog Island

The Dog Island
Available for Nintendo Wii and Playstation 2

Ubisoft has jumped into the Nintendog market with their latest kid friendly creation for the Nintendo Wii, The Dog Island. Played from the perspective of a puppy, players get to choose their character from a list of 48 different breeds of dogs and then modify its colour.

The plot of The Dog Island starts with your little puppy’s sibling sick and after sneaking out of the house to watch you win the actual festival’s treasure hunt, he/she collapses into a worse state than before. The town doctor is unable to do anything further to help your sibling, but he knows of a doctor on The Dog Island that could cure this strange illness. Of course, you volunteer to bring the Doctor back and your exciting adventure to the Island begins.

While Nintendogs had you interacting with your puppy, Dog Island has you controlling your puppy in a world inhabited by dogs and other animals. You must navigate your way through the world completing tasks given to you, to ultimately bring the Doctor and his cure for your sibling back to your hometown. Most of the tasks will involve you sniffing around a lot and collecting items to bring back to other dogs on the island, but there are other games you can play along the way like soccer, fishing or racing.

Most of these tasks will have you running back and forth a lot and even after you open up some warp points in the game, you’ll still find the game requires you to do a lot of running around. As you complete these fun tasks, you receive dog bones from your doggy friends which can be use to purchase items in the town’s stores. You can use them to dress your puppy up in hats, glasses or other fun accessories.

Parents buying this game for their kids will probably like the fact that there is no violence whatsoever in this game. Any enemies in the game really only scare your puppy with their nasty noises and your only attack is to bark back. The trick to succeed in this situation with enemies is to read their thought bubble to determine if they notice you and then try to sneak past without a confrontation.

Using the Wii remote, movements are performed with a point and click system, while actions are performed with the A & B buttons. Accuracy in your puppy’s movements is difficult especially while trying to sneak past enemies in the game, and I found if I didn’t run past really quick or clicked an inch at a time to sneak past, I would accidentally end up somehow on top my sleeping enemies.

Graphically, Dog Island looked a little too much like the Nintendogs games and for a Nintendo Wii game, I was hopefully for a little bit more. The different dog breeds in the game do look a lot like their real life counterparts and I was impressed that the developers took the time to put so many different choices in the game, but they could have put a little bit more of an effort into making the graphics just a little bit more updated for the console it was running on.

The song at the beginning of the game is so cute and with all the puppies running around your TV screen, you almost want to run out and adopt every dog at your local Humane Society. The music is very public television, sugary-sweet, kid’s show type stuff and you almost expect Sesame Street characters to jump out during the game at some point.

I know this is a kid’s game, but part of me still likes to play with puppies. Nintendog and Animal Crossing fans might find The Dog Island right up their alley with the mix of puppies and community fetch missions, but hardcore games who love their FPSs might want to stay away from this game, unless they plan on buying it for their kids.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Buy it!

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