In play

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Back in my day (am I that old?), the hottest kid craze was the Giga Pet. The digital pet came on a little keychain and users were responsible for cleaning it, feeding it, playing with it, etc. It was simple and sold millions. The trend continued on for the next 10 or so years in a very simple and unpopular form until Nintendo released Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS. Thanks Nintendo.

Nowadays, everywhere you look in the digital market are virtual pet products of every size, shape and form. You can even buy little robot dogs to play with and maintain!

With Pet Sims flooding of the market, there's a lot of God-awful titles out there, but I'm going to talk about a new line from Discovery Kids Games that take the bad and at least make it decent.

Discovery Kids Games: (DS) Rated E for Everyone

Discovery Kids Games has released five titles in the Pet Sim genre: Puppy Playtime, Kitten Corner, Pony Paradise, Dolphin Discovery and Parrot Pals. I have only played the Kitten and the Pony game, but I'll give you the gist of all five titles.

You take on the role of a pet owner raising your new pet from "baby" stage to "adult" stage with whatever animal you choose. In most of the games, you get to custom design what your new pet looks like; name it and so on.

After you take your new pet home, it's your job to keep them healthy, happy and always learning. You can obtain these goals by buying food and toys at the market, playing with them and teaching them tricks using touch screen commands. After teaching your new pets tricks, you can enter them in contests to show off their stuff. Rinse and repeat.

The games include an array of minigames to keep you entertained after washing your pony for the hundredth time, and there also are different locations in your neighborhood to take your pet for playtime.

Now you have the facts. Here's my say: The games are put together fairly well, but they were released by the Discovery Channel. Where's the animal know-how and fact learning about said animals? Where are the interesting bits of trivia pertaining to the animals you're raising? I'm not saying the games are terrible; the graphics and controls are put together very well; but come on Discovery Channel, you had a chance at teaching the kids something, not just making them wash their pets! You've become another Ubisoft with just another variation of their terrible "Petz" line.

So, unless your kids are all gung ho about raising more digital pets, the Discovery Pets line really doesn't have anything special about it except maybe the dolphin and parrot games, as no one has done those two types of animals yet. Pick them up if you're kids love imaginary pets, because they're better than the "Petz" games and are priced under $20.

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