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Leapster – Pet Pals Review


All little kids want a puppy.  Parents on the other hand, do not always want a puppy.  If you child is anxious to own a pet and is too young for the Nintendo DS’s Nintendogs, then Pet Pals would be a great alternative. 

When the game first starts, the player must select one of the three puppies.  Once a type of dog and name has been selected, the player is given a brief tutorial on how to feed your puppy and learn how the overall gameplay works.  Basically, the player uses the stylus to point this way through a home, tapping on things to interactive with the puppy.  For example, to feed your dog, tap the food bowl.  To take your dog for a walk, select the leash, etc. 

Pet Pals offers a nice variety of games to keep both your digital dog and child entertained.  No matter which activity you participate in, your dog points will increase.  This means that your puppy will become more happy and smart as you play and train him. This increase in numbers will not only teach your child the importance of growing with your pet, but also how to count.  

This game actually focuses on many different learning topics including counting, letter and word recognition, writing, and how to follow directions.  This is unique as most Leapster games focus strictly on counting or vocabulary. 

While the game offers several modes of play, I think the most entertaining was actually training your pooch to do tricks.  This mode is stylus based as the player guides the puppy’s action through rubbing the screen.  You want to make your dog sit, then move the stylus from top to bottom.  Want him to roll over?  Then perform a swirl technique.  And to keep your child’s memory working, the on screen guides disappear when it is time to perform in the dog show.  

Training your dog is entertaining, but using your K-9 to help learn how to draw letters is a great way to educate younger gamers.  Following the on screen guides and movements of your puppy, the player will learn to draw out each letter of the alphabet, enhancing letter recognition skills as well as penmanship.

Unlike most other Leapster titles, Pet Pals also teaches the user how to earn and manage money.  By playing the mini games, coins are collected, then can be spent in the shop.  Here, the player can choose to spend this hard earned cash on everything from accessories to more dog food.  It is also a good idea to teach young players that it is more important to buy food for your dog than it is to purchase that expensive, but stylish, new leash.  

Pet Pals is a great title in the Leapster’s library not only because it educates, but it also entertains.  Training this digital dog is more involved than raising a Tamagotchi keychain digital pet but not as detailed at playing Nintendo’s Nintendogs.  Pet Pals is that great in-between game that and help young gamers prepare for the real world as well as grow up to detailed games.  If your son or daughter has the will to own a pet, you might want to purchase this title to see how your young one reacts.  It could prove informative if you should purchase that puppy in real life.   

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