Thank you Ubisoft for sending us this game to review!
We recently reviewed Petz Beach which is very similar to Petz Countryside with minor changes like starting dog breeds, farming mini games, and unlockable animals. Unless a child is a hard core Petz fan, we only recommend getting one of the two games since they are practically identical in gameplay. Instead of catching saltwater fish and lobsters, you can catch crawfish and bass in the river.
In Petz Countryside you are welcomed by the mayor to a town that needs to be revitalized. To help the town develop and grow, you'll have to appease the villagers by doing business with them or running errands. Since everyone in this town (that you get to name) is required to own a pet, one of your first stops is the adoption center where you can pick a dog to call your own. At first the breed selection is limited, but there are 28 breeds available in this title. Later on in the game you can adopt cats and unlock lions, bears and pandas. Since the dogs are the only trainable creatures (in this game) we'll focus on them.
There is a trainer that can teach your dog tricks and skills. The skills are a good way to make money in this game. I preferred searching for fish, insects, mushrooms, fossils, shells, and random trash more than delivering packages to the residents. Sniffing out freshwater sea shells and mushrooms is pretty easy and you just have to follow your dog's cues to get to the right place to dig. Catching fish and insects requires precision to bark at the right moment and utilizes the 3DS motion sensor to catch them at the proper time. The digging mini-game reminded me of Minesweeper with the clues for finding the right square on the grid to dig next.
The tricks are optional and in my opinion, more trouble than they are worth. To learn a trick the dog has to recognize and obey hand signals and a voice command. Getting the voice prompts to register took several attempts for me.
Besides spending money on training, you'll have to buy food, water, and bathing supplies for your pets. There's a lot of variety including organic, canned and dry food. Unfortunately, tap water is not an option and you have to hydrate your animals with bottled water. If you have multiple animals, they can share water and compatible food. I thought it was funny that the cats in this game don't mind getting bathed. A mini-game for getting them to sit still through the process would have been fun.
Petz Countryside will appeal to girls who like playing dress-up with their dolls and toys. In this game you can dress up your creatures in numerous silly outfits all year round. I stopped at putting a collar on my dog. The farthest I would go is a bandana perhaps, but a bee outfit with antennae for the head crosses the line for me.
There's a lot of variety in the outfits and animals available. The animals are nicely detailed and their animations are cute. The outside world, while offering 3D effects, didn't impress me. I did like how you could see through the walls to see your pet when they're behind a building.
The background music is generic but pleasant to listen to. The villagers have generic voice sounds that remind me of the voices in the Charlie Brown cartoons. Throughout the day there are news flashes that tell of the town's growth and happenings. I was amused when I got lectured for not saving my game properly after I resumed from my cartridge accidentally ejecting. Fortunately, the game auto-saves frequently.
Petz Countryside is a kid friendly game that can teach kids fun facts about animals with the various tidbits shared during loading screens. This game can be a great tool to teach responsibility to that child asking for a new puppy or kitten. Who knows, it may even help buy some time before buying one.