Little Friends : Dogs & Cats
Developed By : Imagineer
Published By : Sold Out
Category : Simulation, Lifestyle
Release Date : May 28, 2019
A couple of months ago, I got to attend the PAX East event in Boston, MA. While I was there, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the expo floor, and I got to try out some really fun games. One in particular that I got to spend a little bit of time with was this one right here, Little Friends : Dogs & Cats which I also wrote a preview article for not long after. Unfortunately, what I got to play was limited to what was brought to the convention as a demo. Now, I’m fortunate enough to get to cover the full game as well for the site, so let’s see what the full experience has to offer.
Making New Friends
Since this is a simulation game, there’s really no story to be concerned about. That is, except for the one you create with your companion. Right off the bat, you’ll be greeted by a small group of three puppies. These three will be randomized off the options within the game, mixing up the breeds, gender, and coloring as well.
From this screen, you have one of three options. If you are not happy with the three puppies that are waiting for…well first off you’re just a monster. But, setting that aside, you can reset the group, and have three more playful friends waiting to say hi. Still not satisfied? Clearly, animal companionship just isn’t for you so game over. No, I’m joking. You can go into a menu that lets you manually select each one of those three options so you can freely choose breed, fur coloring, and if you want to bring home a boy or girl. Once you find your new friend, your final option is to adopt! Give your companion a name and bring them home!
Initially, your new friend will be weary of you so you’ll need to help him warm up. Developing a strong bond and friendship is the one thing you’ll always be doing in this game by participating in all the activities. The strength of your bond is represented by a level system that is almost always visible, comprised of a number and heart system. Little Friends also tracks in real-time, and there is a cap on how many hearts you can earn in a day, but as you play and level up, you’ll open up numerous different ways to level up.
While keeping inside the house, the majority of your activities will have to do with maintaining your pups four maintenance meters. One is the animal’s overall happiness, which is reflected on by the three other meters : hunger, thirst, and cleanliness. Hunger and thirst are pretty self-explanatory, a bowl will be placed on the floor to fill with either food of your choice, or water (sorry, no choices here). Once the bowl is empty the pup will be full and so will that respective meter. If your pup is dirty, you can select the petting option, and then within that activity is a choice to switch to brushing. Primp their fur and make them clean and happy.
There’s also some fun to be had indoors too, so don’t think it’s all business. You can throw toys with your friends, and later on play with cat wands, or get stylish and dress up your pet. Home is where you can do all your shopping from as well. There are stores specifically for food, toys, and the outfits that you can play dress up with, and all are unlocked when you reach a respective level.
Exploring the Great Outdoors
Eventually, you will have built up a strong enough bond with your pet that you’ll be able to take him or her outside, where you can go on walks, work on catching some frisbees, or enter competitions as well. There is one other option grouped with going out, but we’ll discuss that in a little bit.
Walks are pretty straightforward with your pet. You’ll have a leash on the screen which you can move around to direct your pet to walk left or right. Directing your animal will be pretty important, because you’ll notice a few tracked things in the bottom corner : distance, search and marking. The numbers attached to these things can change each time you go for a walk, but they will always mean the same things. Distance is, obviously, how far you walk for. Search refers to the groupings of balloons you’ll come across on your walk, guide your pet towards these and they’ll do a little bit of digging to find some treasure that is most often in-game currency. Markings is allowing your pet to relieve themselves on the walk. You’ll see some sign posts on your path as well, and as long as you can walk close enough your pet will sniff out a spot and…well, they’ll go.
Another adventure you can go on together is throwing frisbees. There is a small park that you’ll always be transported to when you choose this option, however there are many variations on how you can perform this task. One option is just throwing casually to help your animal learn to catch. Choose from a number of different discs that will fly varying distances and help your pup gain confidence in their catching ability. Why? Because there are competitions to participate in as well. In total there are five levels of competition : Beginner, Amateur, Semi-Pro, Pro, and Master. At first you’ll only have access to the Beginner, but once you place 1st in the competition, you’ll be able to enter the next level. Winning these competitions also comes with some prize money, naturally.
Watch Your Family Grow
Like I just mentioned, there is one last thing that is grouped with “Going Out” in this game, and it’s labelled as “Friends Plaza”. Now, before I talk to you about this area, I would like to point out that while playing the game, this is the area that I was trying to find, and that I was worried I had blatantly missed it. But nope, it’s here and it’s the one area you’ll want to unlock the most.
The Friend’s Plaza is where you’ll get your family of pets, and it’s where you’ll first meet the cats. If you hadn’t noticed, I’d only been talking about dogs this entire time, and the game is called Dogs & CATS. Once you get your relationship with your first puppy to level 15, you’ll unlock this feature and now you can go crazy. You’ll get to meet and adopt kittens, as well as more dogs if you so choose.
However, there is another piece in the Plaza too called the Friends Hotel. In your house, you can have up to three animals at one time. If you want more companions, you’ll need to keep them up in the Hotel. Here, they will be taken care of as you welcome new friends into your home. Maybe you want to raise a family of frisbee champions, or you just can’t stop yourself from adopting as many animals as possible. No matter what your reason, push the limits as much as you’d like.
Sit, Stay, Good Dog (…and cat)
Generally speaking, these types of games I’ve never been all that big of a fan of. I skipped right over the Nintendogs phase, and I never even had a Tomogatchi. However, with my son growing up and experiencing more things (he’s a few months shy of 3 as I write this), his love for animals is growing. And the way his face lights up when playing this speaks volumes for how great this game is.
Little Friends perfectly captures the essence of owning a cat and dog. Okay maybe they nicened up the cat a little bit because not once did I have anything get knocked off of a shelf. But getting to take care of them and watch them frolic freely in the in-game household feels pretty cool. They’ll yip and meow as they please, and snuggle right up once you start petting.
The house itself is pretty customizable too offering different variations on rug and wall colorings, as well as plenty of furniture you can earn and buy as you play. This title offers plenty to do with your furry friends, and as many as you’d like to take care of. So expect to fire this up casually and get lost for many hours. Pick up your physical or digital copy today!
Please be aware, their website is in Japanese