Hana Deka. Chances are you have no idea what that means but I guarantee that you have seen it before. Japanese photographer Yoneo Morita uses a wide angle fish lens to photograph animals to make them look like their noses are popping right out of the picture. These images are everywhere, from books to calendars to greeting cards, it is hard to go anywhere and not see these abstracted pictures. Since these pictures have become somewhat of a phenomenon, it was only a matter a time before a game was based around it.
Herein lays the game’s first problem. The goal is to befriend animals and gain their trust and comfort so they can have their picture taken. However, the player will never hold a virtual camera. Instead of getting the next version of Pokemon Snap, we are given another lackluster virtual pet sim.
Like a weaker version of Nintendogs, the player starts the game by making pals with a canine. All the typical virtual pet tasks are here: washing it, petting it, feeding it. But the game never gives the player any kind of meter or status update when performing these tasks until the event is over. For example, when you are giving the dog a bath, you just rub the screen and hope that you are doing it correctly. You don’t even know if the game is registering the screen taps and scribbles. To make matters worse, these events go on for what seems like an eternity. The player has the option to quit early, but then you run the risk of performing at a sub par level which means you will have to do everything again.
The game has a total of 18 critters to make friends with. Hamsters, rabbits, cats, ducks, and even baby chicks are in the game. No matter which creature you are budding up with, all the mini games are basically the same style of mini game – rub this, touch that, etc.
If you manage to make a new best friend with an animal, those crazy Hana Deka pictures of that animal will be unlocked. But again, the player will never hold a camera. After plodding through several unorganized mini games, the reward of seeing a picture of an animal with a big nose seems very minuscule. After these pictures become unlocked, the game just kind of…ends.
This is game is definitely created with the younger female audience in mind. With the “E” for Everyone rating, parents will not have to worry when purchasing this title. Each animal is either fluffy or what can be defined as “cute.” However, I think it would have been hilarious if one killer animal was in this game, maybe as an unlockable. Maybe after you take pictures of all 18 cute and cuddly animals, a rabid puma or wolverine will pop out and violent devour all the cute, and tasty, critters. Animal Paradise 2 has already been announced. One can only hope.
In all honesty, this game is kind of misleading and has a great loss of potential. Actually taking the Hana Deka photos could have been an interesting and new gameplay mechanic, but instead players are given an uninteresting virtual pet sim. Without any source of direction or indicator, the player blindly hopes that they are performing each task properly. And without any replay value, this is one game that you might want to keep away from your DS.