Hands on with ngmoco's TouchPets Dogs on iPhone

ngmoco does the iPhone doggy style

Hands on with ngmoco's TouchPets Dogs on iPhone

Watching the App Store can be a bit like watching a game of fetch with a dog: one innovative game is thrown out there and everyone races to pick up on its success.

While there are parallels to be drawn to others in the genre, TouchPets Dogs runs off in a different direction. Fetching an inventive new approach to pet simulation than slobbering over the same old gameplay conventions, the game promises to bring something fresh.

Like you would with a real pet, you begin your relationship by picking out a pup. Adoption is the only means of procuring a puppy, and there are five breeds available for you to choose from: Labrador, Jack Russell, West Highland Terrier, Dachshund, and German Shepard.

Of course, you're free to change the colour of fur, as well as tweak other physical attributes like spots to ensure your dog is distinct. As cute as the black lab and brown spotted Jack Russell puppies in the adoption centre were, we decided on a beautiful white West Highland Terrier.

Once you get your puppy home, the training begins. TouchPet Dogs balances playtime with serious canine activities, presenting a wide range of tasks to build your pet's character.

You could sit around petting your dog all day long, but acquiring toys, clothes, and other special items requires work. These include basic daily tasks and more advanced social goals and objective-oriented missions.

Daily tasks involve simple activities like teaching your dog tricks, feeding it consistently, and ensuring its general wellbeing.

Puppy bucks accrue for completing these tasks, allowing you to head to the pet store to purchase goods. You can buy up everything from bright red bouncy balls and squeaky toys to pink tutus and crystalline crowns.

Customisation plays an important role, although it hardly puts TouchPets Dogs ahead of the pack. That's where progressive missions and connectivity come into play. Creator Andrew Stern insists, "This game is our opportunity to push the genre forward, move from Nintendogs."

Joining the daily routine of caring for your puppy, you can encourage him/her to pursue a career. While you can't raise a dog to become a banker or a real estate magnate, there is the possibility of a life in crime fighting, for instance.

Setting your pup on this career track sends him on missions to help the local police department nab bank robbers and deal with hostage situations.

Each mission comes with requirements such as the purchasing of a uniform or proficiency in a specific behaviour. Once those are met, you can warm-up your pet via a mini-game before sending it off to work.

The computer generates a result and you're given a hilarious snapshot of the day's work upon your puppy's return.

Photos of your dog in action can then be shared with your friends over the network. TouchPets Dogs promises a fully realised social network within the game, allowing you to create a list of friends with which you can share doggy data and even set play dates.

A Twitter-inspired doggy feed relays key happenings to the community, with filters enabling you to see just your friends' updates. Significant accomplishments like completing a mission or learning a trick are automatically posted.

More impressive is the ability to arrange playdates in which your dog can meet up with a friend's. Relationships can form among pets: friendship, love, and even a little conflict brews between dogs depending on their chemistry.

Should your puppy get caught up in a love triangle with a German Shepard and Dachshund, the social feed guarantees that dirty secret gets broadcast.

The inventive introduction of social connectivity guarantees TouchPets Dogs a unique place within an enduring genre. While the basics of play remain in line with other titles, clever career-oriented missions and the ability to engage others should make it worth a look when it releases on the App Store later this spring.

Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.