The decision of adopting a pet can’t be taken lightly. Raising a puppy or kitten is something that demands love, attention and care. There’s a lot of responsibility involved – far more than you’d expect from children on their own, of course. Maybe that’s why pet simulation games can be so popular. From Tamagotchi to Nintendogs, this game genre has given the next-best-thing to owning a real-life pet. Aimed at a younger demographic, Little Friends: Dogs & Cats is the newest entry into this genre, and is a simple, non-taxing experience much like Nintendogs was.
The beginning of Little Friends: Dogs & Cats offers the most in terms of difficult decisions, prompting you to choose your new pet The game offers a good variety of breeds, with the pets coming in many different colours and sizes. For the dogs, there are poodles, chihuahuas, bulldogs, you name it, and you can pick from a range of cats too. Regardless of which you pick, all pets have different tastes and personalities, factoring in the types of food they prefer and the activities they enjoy best. You’ll have to treat your pet accordingly in order to fill up its friendship meter.
Raising your virtual pets in Little Friends works very systemically. You can think of it as a simplified version of a game such as The Sims. Here, your pets’ needs are represented by four different bars – happiness, hunger, thirst, and cleanliness. In order to keep these bars at their optimum, you need to spend time with your puppy or kitty, doing different types of activities, depending on their needs at any given time.
Some of these activities are as simple as pressing a menu button. For instance, to feed, give water, or clear the toilet space, you simply need to select the specific option. Feeding will spend a purchasable ration, but beyond selecting the food, there’s no meaningful interaction from the player. Thankfully, other activities actually give the player something to do, for example presenting a short mini-game or interaction involving your pet. Petting, walking, and throwing discs have their own unique gameplay styles, each offering different control options for handheld and large-screen play – for these, Little Friends makes use of Switch’s touch screen and motion controls respectively.
Unfortunately, none of these mini-games offer much variety or challenge. Everything you do with your pet will reward you with money and friendship. On the in-game store you can buy all kinds of toys, clothes, and decorations for your playroom. Then, as the friendship level goes up, your pet will learn new tricks, with some of the activities tied to certain situations. The problem is that the tasks are too repetitive and the progress too slow. That’s why Little Friends works better as an short burst style game, as coming back from time to time to take care of your pet is a far better experience than spending a prolonged section doing the same activities repeatedly over and over.
With all of its fluffy and furry stars, Little Friends is indeed a charming title. It simulates the process of raising a pet, and does it with a commendable presentation. But the game lacks depth, with it clearly aimed at smaller kids. If you’re after a modernised Tamagotchi-like experience, though – or, better, want it for you kid – then it’s the best option available on Switch.
Little Friends: Dogs & Cats
Little Friends: Dogs & Cats allows the player to live a simulated experience of raising a pet. It is a shallow one, clearly aimed at kids, but it can work as an idle game if you’re after this kind of experience.