How To Raise a Virtual Pet on Your iPhone

In the 1990s we saw the widespread expansion of a new and unique form of entertainment: virtual pets. NanoPets, Tamagotchis and a plenty of other trend-following brands began marketing little electronic keychains that provided users with a virtual companion that literally depended on them to remain alive.

Since then a few advancements have been made in the virtual pet arena and we’ve seen just enough quirky console and handheld games to keep the trend partially alive. Now that smartphones have become fairly ubiquitous we are seeing a resurgence in games based on the idea of interacting with a virtual creature that requires daily attention.

Today we’ll look at a couple of apps that can help quench your inexplicable need to nurture binary-based beings.

TouchPets Dogs

TouchPets Dogs is a free application that prominently stands out as one of the best virtual pet applications in the appstore. TouchPets Dogs offers an immersive and interactive 3D experience that is lightyears beyond the old keychain toys.

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TouchPets Dogs

You begin with a trip to the pet shop to choose your new puppy. Several breeds and genders are available to choose from, each with its own unique set of characteristics such as “loyal and domineering.”

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Choosing Your Pet from the Pet Shop

After you select a puppy you give it a name and bring it home to your living room. The game then walks you through a lengthy series of tutorials outlining everything you can do with your dog. Just about everything you might do with a new puppy is possible in the game. You can pet, bathe, play with, dress up, teach, feed and yes, even clean up after your puppy in the backyard.

The goal of the game is to keep your eye on a series of stats that the app gives you regarding the dog’s happiness, cleanliness, energy, etc. Each one of these stats can be raised through a certain activity and will lower as time elapses without that activity. You are given an inventory of items such as toys, food and clothing to help you keep your dog’s stats high.

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Various Gameplay Screens

If you’re successful in keeping your pet happy, you earn achievements and unlock new items available in the pet store.

How Was It?

I was instantly surprised at the richness of the experience for a free game. There was actually a lot of thought and effort put into this game and it felt more professionally developed than most of its competitors.

If you’re thinking about becoming an artificial pet parent any time soon, this is where you should start. There are plenty of features, places, achievements, etc. to keep you busy for some time. If you’re at all fond previous virtual pet experiences you’ve had, this game is likely to become one of your favorites.

As far as a downside, if you don’t like the idea of picking up artificial dog feces and being forced to keep your pet happy in 15 different ways, this game (or any other virtual pet simulator) isn’t for you. The tutorials at the beginning are quite lengthy and persistent and I quickly grew tired of caring about what the little beast wanted. And of course there is the constantly plaguing morbid curiosity regarding what happens if I just let him suffer.

However, most of the annoyances above are with the genre instead of the specific app. Again, this is a great place to start for anyone who would like a mildly demanding but fun daily iPhone routine.

Other Pet Games

Now that we’ve established a decent baseline of comparison, let’s look at a few of the other virtual pet applications available in the appstore.

iPet Pets (Free)

iPet Pets is drastically different from the interactive 3D app above. In this game you merely interact with a still frame image of your pet. You can choose from tons of real and mythical creatures; everything from dragons to puppies.

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iPet Pets

After you choose your pet you can really only do two things to it: feed and pet. You have a limited daily supply of food to dole out to the picture of the animal and can stroke the picture to “pet” your pet. As long as you keep the hunger and happiness bars full through those two actions, your pet won’t die. You can also see and interact with the pets of other people on the network and send messages to their owners.

After playing TouchPets Dogs, this game seemed painfully limited and underdeveloped. There simply wasn’t much to keep you occupied for more than a few minutes at best. However, if you’re looking for a low maintenance alternative to the needy TouchPets Dogs, this might be the way to go.

Pocket Fish ($0.99)

Though it’ll cost you a buck, Pocket Fish will bring you back out of the realm of homegrown app and into something that really feels polished and professional. Like TouchPets Dogs, PocketFish features interactive 3D gameplay, rich graphics and plenty of things to do.

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Pocket Fish

You can choose from a variety of underwater creatures for your pet and then either play with your pet or swim around collecting pearls to trade for prizes in the pearl shop.

Kimimon ($0.99)

Kimimons are fun, imaginary creatures that start out as just a head and grow into adults with a body, legs and arms. You can completely customize the appearance of your Kimimon with a number of physical characteristics and fashion accessories.

As your Kimimon grows, you interact with it through feeding, bathing, hugging, kissing and disciplining it. You can also take pictures and play fun mini games to collect money which is then used to buy food, medicine and clothing for your Kimimon.

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Kimimon

If you’re looking for a personal and customizable virtual pet, Kimimon is the way to go. It’s a bit like having a Nintendo Wii Mii character on your iPhone.

Conclusion

The apps above represent a good glimpse into the available types and range of quality of the virtual pet apps available in the appstore. There are plenty more options, each with their own unique features and methods for taking care of a little friend.

Use the comment section below to tell us about your thoughts on virtual pets: love ’em or hate ’em? Also be sure to tell us which apps you’ve tried and how you think they fare against the apps above.