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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
Cuteness triumphs in Nintendogs
By Neil McGreevy

Screenshot from Nintendogs
The dog models are 'brilliant'
What is it with Japan and man's best friend? Not content with a flea-infested mongrel to dole out love to, our Asian cousins have spent years perfecting the electronic equivalent.

First came the cyber-pet craze, although our once beloved Tamagotchi have now passed onto that great cyber-kennel in the sky. Or the bottom of the sock drawer.

Then came Aibo, Sony's expensive robo-dog that relegated K-9 to the trash-heap.

No stranger to the odder side of gaming, Nintendo has created the perfect companion to their DS system with Nintendogs.

These virtual puppies have taken Japan by storm and European gamers will be able to see what the fuss is about on 7 October, with a choice of Labrador retriever, Miniature Dachshund or Chihuahua.

Cuteness on display

Stuffing the finer elements of a puppy onto a DS cartridge, Nintendogs allows players to name their pooch, take care of its every need and enter it into dog shows.

Much more than the rudimentary care given to Tamagotchi, Nintendogs can be stroked via the touch screen and taught simple tricks through the microphone.

Screenshot from Nintendogs
Format: Nintendo DS
Graphics: 8
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7
Enduring appeal: 7
Overall: 7
The DS will even bark whenever another puppy is within wireless range.

And when it comes to walkies, you must bag whatever falls from Fido's backside, making this quite possibly the first game to have players packaging faeces.

Graphically there is not much going on here besides the brilliant dog models, which are animated in an incredibly lifelike manner.

With such cuteness on display, it is nigh-on impossible to resist giving your mutt a scratch under the chin.

It is easy to dismiss Nintendogs as nothing more than a passing fad, but there is no denying how much thought has gone into an experience that is quintessentially Nintendo.

It is unique, accessible and a joy to play for joystick junkies and non-gamers alike, while the polygonal pooches on offer here are better than the real thing in so many ways.

No vet bills, your leg remains unsullied, and you do not have to feel guilty when you bore of your bestial buddy.

Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS is out in the UK on 7 October

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