Friday, June 6, 2008
Product Review: Go Pets Vacation Island for Nintendo DS
I am a pet lover. I've always loved animals, and I brought my kids up to love them, too. So I was thrilled to take part when Nintendo sent out Go Pets Vacation Island for the Nintendo DS to be reviewed by blogger Moms like me. Why choose a Mom? Because this game was created by a Mom who wanted something fun and creative for her kids to play.
First of all, the idea is really cute: players can create and name virtual pets, travel around vacation island, and interact with other virtual pets through a special worldwide social network for kids (you'll need to connect your DS to a wireless network for this feature).
The "currency" on Vacation Island is shells. Kids earn shells by taking care of their pets, cooperating with others , and performing kind acts, like sharing food with another hungry pet. They can then use their shells to buy more food or customize their pets further. They can even dress (!) their animals in cute angel wings and ninja outfits.
But the primary objective behind Go Pets Vacation Island is social interaction and friendship. As their pets travel through the virtual world, players can add up to 250 friends. They can then send pen-pal messages to their friends about their pets. One neat factor is that safety is built right in. The pen-pal messages kids send to others in the game are made up entirely of friendly symbols like hearts and smiley faces. So players' virtual pets can communicate simple concepts like, "Want to be friends?" or "My pet needs food, can I borrow some?" while keeping all real-world information private and protected. Using the Nintendo Wi-Fi option, kids can also download additional special food and clothes. There's also five mini games built in to help kids pass the time when they aren't connected to a network.
The Rhino and I both took turns playing the game, often squabbling over whose turn it was, because Go Pets Vacation Island is a lot of fun. I had a little trouble with the pen-pal function, because I was never really sure if my messages had been sent, but the Rhino breezed right through. His only criticism was that he wishes there were more pet choices than simply cats, dogs or ponies.
Still, the game is lively and fun for younger players, and the customization offered for each pet allows for lots of game play. Every pet is unique. For example, a kitten may only like certain foods, and turn his face up at others (just like a real kitten!).
Go Pets Vacation Island for the Nintendo DS is also very affordable, retailing for only $29.99 at stores like Wal-mart, Gamespot and Toys R Us.
Now let's see how many of you really pay attention to our (very insightful and thoughtfully detailed) reviews. Those wonderful readers who read this far have the chance to WIN OUR DEMO COPY of Go Pets Vacation Island. Just leave a comment below. We're awarding the prize on Wednesday! Good luck, and don't tell anyone. It will be our little secret. ; )
P.S. Changed the award date to Wednesday for my Twitter followers since it's been down a LOT lately. Get on the ball, Twitter!
at 1:51 PM