Catz
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2006-12-18 Nintendo DS Virtual Life E (Everyone) MTO / Ubisoft

Catz for the PC was the second game to be released in the Petz universe. Like its canine counterpart, there have been numerous versions for the PC, as well as the GBC and GBA. Following in the footsteps of Dogz, Catz has also made the jump to the Nintendo DS.

Not to be outdone by their canine brethren, Catz delivers an entirely different package, complete with new gameplay and graphics, sure to please the cat lover in all of us.

There is less of a story in Catz than in other Petz offerings, but the basic plot is still there. You play as yourself, having just adopted your first kitten. However, unlike past Petz installments, you play in more of a "God Mode," looking down on the action from above, never truly seeing yourself or the people whom you'll get to know.

From the beginning, you have a choice of five breeds like the Abyssinian and the classic Tabby. As I have three cats of my own, I chose a look-a-like to my favorite real life cat, a Tabby named Baby, which I named the same. Each cat breed and individual feline has a personality type all its own, and you are given an opportunity to interact with the cats before you adopt them to see if they are the right one for you. This is where the title really starts to show off its stuff.

The game comes with two viewing modes, the overhead mode I talked about earlier, and a "Cuddle View," which places you right in front of your kitty, able to use to the stylus to pet and play them, much like Nintendogs. The cats react surprisingly well to the stylus when you pet them, moving their head to allow you to pet under their chin, and even rolling over for a belly rub, purring all the while. And they look surprisingly life-like as well.

Each cat has his or her own specific markings. For instance, the Tabby cat that I adopted has an "M" shape of darker fur on its forehead, and while this might be a detail other games would look past, Catz displays everything in crisp detail, but only where the cats themselves are concerned.

When looking at the background house environment that your kitten will be growing up in, the graphics are pretty dull and lifeless, which is sad, but understandable when you see all the work that went into the kittens in the first place.

But what would be the fun of having such a cute kitten if you couldn't interact with it? Catz allows for interaction in more ways than one. Using your Kitty Coinz, you can buy not only food or house decorations, but also toys and clothing items to really make your kitten shine. Rainbow, leather, or studded collars and bows can adorn your kitty, and the camera feature lets you take pictures of them in all their decked-out glory.

If toys or clothes aren't your style, you can interact with your kitten simply by petting it with the stylus. Or if you're really for a hands-off approach, you can simply sit back and watch them pounce after objects in the room (there is something so cute about that butt wiggle before they pounce) or take quick catnaps in their bed.

But don't think you can just sit around all day having fun, as there is work to be done. Your neighbors, Brandon and Haley, will frequently invite you over to take pictures of their kittens in specific poses, moods, etc. This could range from simply taking a picture of a happy cat to making sure their favorite toy is in the picture as well. You are given five shots to find the perfect one, so there should be no failure there.

After completing these tasks, you are either given more Kitty Coinz or Kitty Cardz, which contain trivia facts about your feline companions. There are fifty cards in all, and finding them all could take a lot of time on your own. That's where the DS Multi-Card Play comes in. Apart from trading pictures with friends who also own Catz, you can trade the Kitty Cardz as well.

After talking about all of the fun details like shopping, card collecting, and picture taking, there are of course the basic responsibilities for kitten care and health. You have to clean the litter box, make sure your kitten is fed and has enough to drink, and brush their coat to keep it healthy.

These of course are the more tedious of tasks, but the most disappointing thing about Catz as a whole is the lack of a real soundtrack. Apart from the occasional purring, meowing or scratching noise made by your kitten, along with the beeping of the PDA to let you know when a new task has arrived, the game will be played basically in silence. I guess I can understand not wanting to cover up the sounds of the kittens with music, but it would have been nice to have the option there.

Overall, Catz can easily provide for hours upon hours of fun for the younger kitten lovers in your life, as well as the seasoned feline pros. After looking past its faults, which are few and far between, you are left with a cute and charming game that everyone can appreciate, whether they own a cat in the real world or not.


Special thanks to Katherine Lollar and Ubisoft for providing a copy of this title.