Little Friends: Dogs & Cats Review

"No, Fluffin! Don't poop on the couch!"

Considering the Nintendo Switch is now over two years old, I'm surprised it took this long for a game like Little Friends: Dogs & Cats to hit the shelves. Live out your childhood fantasy of packing up, moving to a sleepy seaside town and adopting a dozen furry pals to play with. What more could go wrong?

Dog breeds include Shibas, Chihuahuas and Labrador Retrievers. There are fewer choices for cats, but the American Shorthair and Japanese Bobtail stood out to me. There's no real difference between the breeds, but each potential friend has a personality trait that determines how they behave. Some are friendly and outgoing, whereas others are more mean-spirited and playful. There is a great variety in how this plays, as it affects how you take care of your pet.
As in real life, there are different activities to do with your pets to keep them active and happy. Throw toys across the room to entertain them or bring them to the Friend Plaza to meet other animals. You can take dogs on walks where they'll find hidden treasure or play frisbee at the park. There are fewer options for cats, but there is a special mini-game where you waggle a wand in their face where they try to grab it. Repeating these increases your friendship metre with them, unlocking more actions and items for them to use.

You can also enter your dog into frisbee competitions. These work exactly like the minigame except you're now competing for points against other dogs, with difficulty ranging from beginner to master.  You must throw the disc, have the dog chase after it and try to catch it before it lands. It starts off slow, but become a bit more fun once you're put against tougher opponents, even if their presence has no real bearing on how it plays out.
If you're more of a fashionista, you can suit up your little friends in a plethora of different costumes. Ranging from shiny sunglasses to warm fur coats, there's a lot of customisation here to dress up your pets in whatever way you see fit. It's reminiscent of the crazy animal outfits you can get in The Sims 4, with just as many wild choices.

The cool thing about the control scheme is how it changes depending on your playstyle. Using the Switch in handheld utilises the touch screen for taking care of your pets, whereas docking it will allow you to use the motion controls in the Joy-Con to perform various activities like brushing them and throwing balls. Taking advantage of Switch-specific features allows the game to feel right at home on the console, but it comes with the unfortunate side effect of the controllers needing to be re-calibrated every so often.
While it is a solid package, Little Friends has a major lack of content. With only a handful of breeds to choose from and even fewer activities to take part in, there's a lot left to be desired. Notably, there seems to be more content available for dogs than there is for cats, which is a shame if you're Team Cat over Team Dog like me. I'd love to see if developer Imagineer will add updates to this, as it needs additional breeds, activities and customisation to feel like complete.

I think the best way to experience Little Friends is in small daily chunks, perhaps 15 minutes every morning and evening. It's more of a fun time-waster than something you'd sink your teeth into. If you're after a suitable Nintendogs successor, look no further.
Disclosure: Little Friends: Dogs & Cats was supplied by Sold Out Sales & Marketing.
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

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