Whether you already have a pet or are fancying getting one, it is hard not to appreciate the novelty of their virtual counterparts. Aside from providing a short distraction, nicely made pet sim games are hard to resist due to, well, sheer charm. However, the question in this case is, does Cute Puppy Daycare make the mark or is it just all bark?
Release Date: 01/11/2014
Cute Puppy Daycare is developed by Girl Gamz.
The premise for this game is simple: choose one of the three pups available for adoption from the dog shelter and ensure its happiness and well-being. Hopefully you are not looking for a unique looking virtual pet because in terms of design, the choices are quite limited. You get to pick from three short haired dogs, varying only in terms of spot colors. To be specific, you get to choose between a female pup with ribbons and light brown spots, a dark brown spotted boy or a Dalmatian-like dog with black spots. Indeed, it is a simple start, but is the rest of the game enough for it to deserve a treat?
Getting Your Paws Wet
After clicking on the pup you want, you get to name your new pal and take it home. Interacting with him is done through mouse clicks, which makes Cute Puppy Daycare easy to grasp even for young players.
Right after choosing your furry friend, you then take charge of his health and well-being. This is measured by status bars located at the top right of your screen. There are ten status meters all in all and your goal is to keep all of these in the green. A general status bar reflects the dog's overall health, which should give you a good idea of how your game is progressing.
First off, you have your basic Hungry and Thirsty stat; these are kept up by feeding your pet some dog food and letting it drink some milk respectively. Seems harmless, but, hopefully your kids do not get ideas about giving your lactose-intolerant dog some milk to raise its Thirsty meter (a common misconception, but still something we would advise real life pet owners to be wary of).
Aside from filling your new pal's belly, you will also have to watch his Tired stat and point him towards the doghouse when he needs to rest. Remember that his bars continuously drop while the game is on-going. But you may want to keep his Dirty stat out of the red zone by clicking on the swan tub. After that, the shower head glows for you to activate and then a towel appears so you can dry your pup. Due to the lack of instructions and this being the only three-part activity, young first timers may need some time to figure things out. Thankfully, there is a pause button to avoid a game over.
The Healthy stat is maintained with the use of needles. Don't worry about the blood and gore, this just means he gets an injection for that added resistance.
Raising intimacy basically entails rubbing your pup's head. The thing is, figuring out which icon does what is quite tricky at the start due to the lack of labels. Also, we're not sure we would use the word "intimacy" to describe raising the dog's happiness to kids. Perhaps referring to it as friendship, or even affection, would help younger players grasp the concept.
In order to keep the remaining stats in the green, you will have to click on the Go button. This will then take you to the next screen, containing clickable objects such as the ball to raise the Fun stat, a flying disc to increase Training, an outhouse for a toilet and even a blackboard with some math questions for the Intelligence status. Again, matching objects with the appropriate status may take some getting used to due to the lack of instructions, but at least the toilet is labeled and the other items are easily figured out.
All of these interactive activities must be performed within 5 minutes or, as the game displays, 300 seconds. Every time a meter falls to a critical level, the game reminds you with a word balloon message. Fail to heed that warning and it is game over, you will have to pick a new pup to start the game all over again. Manage to prevent the stats from falling to zero and you will be rewarded with some praise. Yes, you get nothing else but a commendation. Though the game is short, it would have been good to include even a short story to wrap things up. Better yet, a few nicely drawn static screens or a simple animation cut scene might have sufficed to keep the kids happy.
Once you have completed the game, there is really nothing in place to entice you to replay the game. If there were some way to alter the difficulty or a few unlockable features, the game would have tripled its play time, but unfortunately that is a no go.
The Visual Treat
As we mentioned above, charm plays a big role in pet sim games. With regards to Cute Puppy Daycare, the graphics are attractive enough, though clumsily drawn. There are times wherein the pup's face looks squished and the perspective of the environment leaves something to be desired. The user interface also has a few unaligned labels here and there, but at least the colors are bright and a few animations are giggle worthy. Besides, how can you resist those googly eyed doggies?
The music is soothing enough, bringing to mind a relaxing afternoon with a furry pal. The sound effects are well made and they effectively complement the interactive activities. Though there is nothing over-the-top noteworthy, at least the audio clips make the game a pleasant 5-minute experience.
To summarize, Girls Go Games Cute Puppy Daycare is not the most amazing pet sim game out there. It does not excel in any category, but nor does it also have any major gameplay flaws. Once you figure out how things work and orient yourself with the interactive objects, it is all a matter of lining activities up for your virtual pup. One simple tidbit we liked about the game is that it does try to integrate the name you used into the word balloon warnings, adding a minute personal touch. The graphics are not spectacular but are charming indeed for dog parents and fans alike. Try it to get acquainted with how it works and then show it to your kid. Just be sure to warn him about giving your family pet too much milk and trying to poke it with a shot to keep it healthy.