My Dog
| My Dog

Dogs. Whether you think they're the cutest things in the world and want one desperately or are of the opinion that they're dirty, smelly things, there's no getting away from them.

Not even your mobile phone is safe now, thanks to My Dog – so next time you spot someone coo-cooing into their mobile, they might not be talking to their kids or loved ones.

A game that's not really something you play against as much as you play with, My Dog is akin to a virtual pet, like those fads from the past, Tamagotchi. But it's far more sophisticated than those old things, having more in common with Nintendogs on the DS.

Of course, My Dog doesn't rival Nintendo's offering in any way, thanks to the disparity in hardware, but you do have to admit that it's a good-looking pooch. Rather than go for the photo-realistic approach, the developer has built the four-legged friends from a series of circles, and concentrated on the movement instead.

Although this visual style initially seems a bit Fisher Price, it grows on you. The colourful pastels look good on a mobile screen and the way in which your adopted canine chum scampers around the four locations is pretty lifelike. The animation is smooth and fluid and endows what is essentially a collection of lines of software code with a great deal of personality.

Which is a good job, because if you don't care about and care for your digital doggy, it's game over.

You start by adopting a puppy, picking from a handful of potential candidates of varying sex and colour, and must keep it happy and healthy. This involves just about everything that looking after a real dog does, bar the expensive vets' bills.

You've got a home around which Mr Pickles can roam, where the first thing you're going to want to do is feed your pup. This, and all other tasks, is achieved by moving a cursor around the screen to access the appropriate menus. It's fiddly at first but it's probably the only way in which I-Play could provide enough options for everything you'll need to do.

Food, as dog-owners everywhere know, has to be bought (especially when there are no dinner scraps in My Dog) and treats like BBQ ribs are costly. In-game money is available, though, and you can win funds to fuel your dog's milkshake habit by entering dog shows.

All the while Spot will be telling you how he or she feels via a selection of thought bubbles and behaviours, so you can see when a nap, a walk or a plastic bag is required (yep, you have to scoop poop, too). In fact, there's an enormous amount of interaction on offer if you're up for it.

Aside from the dog shows, you can walk around town where you'll encounter new experiences such as hidden objects, you can play with all sorts of toys, and you can stroke, pat and tickle the little fella till both your hearts' content.

It's all incredibly involving and, if you're after something a little different for the bus ride in the morning, My Dog could conceivably be your bowl of water. However, much like the real thing, there's a certain level of commitment required. If you neglect Lassie you'll not only have him or her taken away from you (the virtual vet that is your in-game guide keeps an eye on things), you'll also miss out on what My Dog does best.

It really is about building a bond with that collection of pixels on screen; it's My Dog's ability to make you feel for your mobile mongrel that makes it Kennel Club material. Granted, there is a leap of imagination involved, but hey: if you're even thinking about getting the game, you're ready for that anyway.

My Dog

A pedigree chum