Nintendogs[a] is a real-time pet simulation video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS handheld video game console. It was released in Japan, and was later released in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and other regions. It was originally released in three different versions: Dachshund & Friends, Lab & Friends (Shiba & Friends in Japan), and Chihuahua & Friends. It has been re-released twice, first as a bundled release with a special edition Nintendo DS with a new version called Nintendogs: Best Friends, and later as Nintendogs: Dalmatian & Friends.
Nintendogs uses the DS's touchscreen and built-in microphone. The touch screen allows the player to pet a dog, as well as to use various items that can be found or purchased. These range from balls and frisbees, to toys, to grooming supplies to keep the dogs happy. The microphone is used to call to the player's dog by speaking the name given to the dog in the beginning of the game as well as to teach the dog tricks such as "sit" or "roll over". Players can bring their dogs on walks and to the park if they so choose. They may interact with other players in multi-player by using the DS's wireless linkup. It also uses the DS's internal clock and calendar to allow the dog to grow hungrier or dirtier based on the elapsed time.
Nintendogs received critical acclaim, and won many awards, including the 2006 Innovation Award from PC World and Best Handheld Game from the Associated Press. All versions of Nintendogs have sold a combined 23.96 million copies worldwide, making it the second highest-selling game on the Nintendo DS, behind New Super Mario Bros. Because of Nintendogs' success, Nintendo has made several related products, including Nintendogs toys and a series of Nintendogs trading cards. A sequel, titled Nintendogs + Cats, was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2011.
Using the touchscreen, the owner can play with, train, pet, walk, brush, and wash a virtual dog. With the microphone that is built into the DS, the player can create voice commands which the puppy will understand and, if properly trained, follow. Dogs can be walked to the park where they can practice their disc catching skills, and to the gymnasium to practice dog agility. The game features two brands of currency: money and "trainer points". Money is used to purchase items, whilst trainer points grow or shrink depending on the actions of the player. As points accumulate, more dogs become available for the player to adopt, as well as various cosmetic items that can be purchased to decorate the player's in-game house. By walking their dog, players earn trainer points; the number of points varies depending on the length of the walk, and activities participated in on the way, such as contest training. While walking, question mark icons on the map point out areas that may contain neighborhood dogs or presents, though presents can be found unmarked as well. The player's dog will usually bark once when encountering a "?" mark icon that is a present, and usually bark twice if it is a neighborhood dog. When encountering another dog and one's trainer, the player's dog may fight or play with the other.
Only three dogs may be kept at the player's in-game dwelling at one time, and five dogs may be stored at the "Dog Hotel". The dogs may also be swapped, dropped off, and picked up at any time. The player may not have any more than eight dogs at a time, but dogs may be donated to make space for more pets. The dog can be cared for by being fed with different types of food and groomed with varying items.
As time passes without the dog being cared for, its condition will slowly deteriorate as it becomes more hungry and dirty. The condition of the player's dogs can be found by clicking its name. Hunger is listed as Full, Normal, Hungry, and Famished. Thirst is listed as Quenched, Normal, Thirsty, and Parched. The condition of the dog's coat is listed as Beautiful, Clean, Normal, Dirty, and Filthy. If its condition is neglected for long enough, then the dog may run away. It will eventually return, sometimes with a present.
Nintendogs features a variety of contests, which are the player's main method of earning money and trainer points. There are three contests: Disc Competition, Agility Trial, and Obedience Trial. In each of them, there are 5 classes: Beginner, Open, Expert, Master, and Championship. Each contest is commented on by two men, named Ted Rumsworth and Archie Hubbs. (It was said that Archie sometimes eats dog treats.) If the player's dog places 3rd or higher in its class, the dog will proceed to the next class, where the contest increases in difficulty level. Prize money earned differs depending on which contest has been entered, what place is finished, and the class the dog is in. If the player does not place at least 3rd, they will be dropped to the previous difficulty level, unless they were in the Beginner class, at which point they will remain there. Dogs that are especially dirty or hungry are not able to participate in contests.
Nintendogs supports a link-up method through the Nintendo DS's built-in wireless networking capabilities. A player can link one's system with that of another person who owns a copy of Nintendogs to let the players' puppies play together. This is called Bark Mode. If connected with a player who has a dog not in the current player's kennel, that dog will become available. Also, players can use an item called the "White Record" to record a message. This can be used to say something to the other player. Dogs may also carry a present to give to the other player.
Dogs do not die, have puppies, or age (meaning they remain as puppies).
First publicly mentioned in 1997, Shigesato Itoi (designer of EarthBound), Tsunekazu Ishihara (designer of Pokémon), and Shigeru Miyamoto codeveloped a Nintendo 64 prototype of a pet creature breeding game called Cabbage. Its four-year development was fundamentally enabled by the realtime clock and mass writability introduced in the requisite 64DD peripheral "such that even if the power is cut, [the game] can still raise the creature" and with optionally purchasable enhancement data. A subset of creature maintenance functionality is made portable on the Game Boy and can be synchronized back to the 64DD disk, via the Transfer Pak. It was expected for release in 1998 and then in 2000, but all further development was distracted. In 2006, Miyamoto concluded: "It disappeared, didn't it ... However, the conversations and design techniques that popped up when we were making Cabbage are, of course, connected to Nintendogs and other things that we're doing now."
The project which ultimately became Nintendogs began as a technical demo on the Nintendo GameCube long before it was considered for the DS. It was migrated to the DS when the handheld was still in development. Shigeru Miyamoto originally came up with the idea for the game when he and his family bought a dog, which inspired him to create the project. The game's producer, Hideki Konno, looking for a game to take full advantage of all of the Nintendo DS's features, decided on a dog simulation game. Nintendogs, first called Puppy Times, was originally designed to have fifteen different versions, one for each breed of dog. Satoru Iwata suggested this to convey the feel that the player was choosing a dog from a kennel. However, the debugging process for each version was deemed too time-consuming to be feasible. After going back and forth between several versions, they eventually settled on three, with six dogs each and the rest available after completing in-game goals.
In late 2005, Nintendo of America released the first series of Nintendogs "6-Card Fun Paks". Three different pack designs (each based on the US-released designs of the DS game) contains an assortment of "Collectible cards, stickers & more!". Each pack randomly contains two of 18 different Breed cards, one of nine different Dog in Training tip cards, one of six different Miscellaneous cards, one of 18 different Pop-Up Cards, one of six sundry sheets of stickers, one of four temporary tattoos, and one Sweepstakes card. Another series of these cards were released in early 2007 by Enterplay, LLC. These cards, officially licensed by Nintendo, were created by the same individuals who worked on the first series. As such, the cards greatly resemble the first series. Keeping the "6-Card Fun Pak" name, each package contains two of 20 different At the Kennel cards (which feature all eighteen breeds from the games, including the Dalmatian and Jack Russell Terrier), one of nine Dog in Training tip cards, one of four Miscellaneous cards, one of 20 Pop-Up Cards, one of six sheets of stickers, one of four temporary tattoos and one Sweepstakes card. The next series also features three sundry packages, this time with a Dalmatian, Beagle, and Pug on the front of the package.
A line of Nintendogs plush toys were released in Japan, featuring the most popular breeds in each game. They are also available at the Nintendo World Store. Various Nintendogs T-shirts were also made available at the Nintendo World Store. In Europe and Australia, a series of plush toys with an electronic sensor were released, and when the owner shook the bone, the dog would walk and bark. Nintendo has also released a set of plushes through Earthwood Toys.
The game has been well received by critics, with an average score of 85% at Game Rankings. In the May 2005 edition of the Famitsu, a popular Japanese gaming magazine, Nintendogs received a perfect 40/40 score. Only four other games had attained this score at the time. It also received an 8.5 out of 10 in Nintendo Power. Game Informer gave Nintendogs an 8 out of 10, reflecting on the game's lack of an ending. Game Oracle gave it 85% and a recommendation saying that unlike most sims, it has a lot of depth.
In the first week of its release in Japan (April 18, 2005 to April 24, 2005), the three versions, Shiba Inu & Friends, Miniature Dachshund & Friends, and Chihuahua & Friends, sold 75,000, 49,000, and 44,000 respectively, totalling 168,000 units. This title game also boosted the Nintendo DS system sales by over 4.2 times the previous week to 95,000 units, up from 22,000. It was the 91st best-selling game in Japan in 2008, selling 142,591 copies combined, with lifetime sales of 1,850,984 combined.
- E3 2005 Game Critics Awards: Best Handheld Game.
- TheG33ks Bronze Award for best Nintendo DS game.
- Associated Press: "Best Game of 2005"
- 2005 Japan Media Arts Festival: Excellence Prize
- PC World: "2006 Innovation Award"
- D&AD: Yellow Pencils Award 2006
- PETA: Best Animal-Friendly Video Game 2006
- IGN: Editors' Choice Award
- IGN: Best use of touch screen for Nintendo DS
- GameSpot: Editors' Choice award
Nintendogs also had very successful launches in North America and Europe, with first week sales of over 250,000 and 160,000 respectively. Lab & Friends received a "Double Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 600,000 copies in the United Kingdom. ELSPA also gave Dalmatian & Friends a "Platinum" award, for at least 300,000 sales in the United Kingdom. By August 2006, in the United States, Chihuahua & Friends had sold 570,000 copies and earned $17 million; Labrador & Friends had sold 620,000 copies and earned $19 million; and Dachshund & Friends had sold 730,000 copies and earned $22 million. During the period between January 2000 and August 2006, the games were respectively the 50th, 44th and 32nd highest-selling games launched for the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS or PlayStation Portable in the United States.
On March 23, 2006 at GDC 2006, Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata announced that international sales of Nintendogs sales had reached 6 million. By March 31, 2008, the game was the best-selling Nintendo DS game published by Nintendo. As of March 31, 2015, the combined sales of all versions has reached 23.96 million and it is now second on the Nintendo DS best-sellers list behind New Super Mario Bros..
In 2010, 1UP.com included Nintendogs in their list of five "Essential Newcomers" of the decade, describing it as one of "five revolutionary new games" of the past 10 years, for its impact on drawing "non-gamers to console and portable systems," and establishing the "new" Nintendo. Despite derision from many hardcore gamers, Nintendogs sold tens of millions, mostly among casual gamers, and paved the way for the Nintendo DS's worldwide success. This gave rise to a non-game trend, previously limited to PCs, on consoles and portables. Nintendo followed it up with more casual games such as Brain Age, Wii Sports and Wii Fit, establishing Nintendo as the most successful developer and publisher of the decade.
It was announced during Nintendo's 2010 E3 presentation that Shigeru Miyamoto was working on a new Nintendogs project, involving some new innovations. The game, titled Nintendogs + Cats was finished in 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS and was released as a launch title in all regions.
A microgame based on Nintendogs appears in the game WarioWare: Smooth Moves. A Nintendogs Labrador Retriever puppy also appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as an assist trophy; owing to the nonviolent nature of the Nintendogs game, rather than fighting actively, the dog "plays" in front of the screen, blocking view. Also, there are multiple Nintendogs downloadable content available in the game Animal Crossing: City Folk. A French bulldog appears in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, taking the role of the Labrador Retriever. There is also a Nintendogs + Cats stage on the 3DS version. Both the assist trophy and the stage from this game reappear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
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