System Requirements:
1.5GHz CPU
64MB 3D graphics card
750MB HDD Space
DirectX 9 sound

There are millions of homeless animals in the world and you can make a virtual difference in Happy Tails Animal Shelter. You’ll help place cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses, and deer into loving homes. If it’s not a good match, they’ll be back at the shelter the following day. When an animal arrives at the shelter, you’ll have to give it a check-up. Your boss will take care of the medical issues but everything else is up to you.

Your daily duties include checking in the new arrivals, helping customers, feeding and giving water to all the animals, and last but not least, cleaning up poop. Just like real life, some animals are easier to care for than others. The hamsters and guinea pigs are the easiest. The rabbits, cats, dogs, horses and deer require brushing, playing outside, and attention. You can give them treats too!

When a customer arrives they will have a story and will seek your guidance on what type of pet is best for them. If you misguide them, they will walk out empty handed. I highly recommend saving before speaking to them! Their stories vary; sometimes they are specific in what they want and other times they are vague. Some of the adopters are not suitable to adopt; one of the more unique stories is a father wanting a horse for his daughter so he can look like a cool dad to her classmates.

Not only do you have to take care of the animals, you have to take care of yourself as well. There is fitness and a hunger meter that can be recharged by visiting the break area. A quick trip to the fridge will fill you up. One nice perk for working at Happy Tails is that you can sleep on the job and replenish your fitness meter. When all of the animals are cared for, you can leave for the day. Just make sure everything is put away, or your boss will nag you.

The graphics are decent. There are many different breeds of dogs, and the other animals vary in color also. Some animals have long hair and others have short hair; if you use the wrong brush on them, you get nowhere fast. Many of the human models are recycled and sometimes their animations are robotic looking. For this type of game, the graphics are sufficient.

The sound in this game is decent. The background music is pleasant and I think it got stuck in my husband’s head, which I found funny. The voice acting is okay, though some of the voices don’t seem to fit the characters. Some of the comments are misplaced too. If your boss is blocking you, you’ll sometimes hear your character say “sit!” If you have played Crazy Machines, you’ll recognize the voice used for your boss.
The controls can be a bit clunky at times. Sometimes it takes multiple tries to successfully brush an animal’s hair or to open the door to let them play outside. It can be a challenge to get the animals back in their cage but I think that’s more of an animal stubbornness issue than the game’s interface. Although the game hasn’t crashed on me, it did take a while to trigger some tasks from my boss. I had to play the game quite a bit before I was able to treat horses.

I have no complaints when it comes to appropriateness issues. This game does teach responsibility, so it can be a useful tool to have your kid play if they are asking for a pet. There’s also a library of books you can read and learn more about the different animals you care for.

Personally I didn’t find this game very fun. How much fun can you make a game that revolves around cleaning up after animals? It’s ironic that when you have to take the used litter/straw to the dumpster, the character says “cleaning up is so boring!” Although it’s rewarding to place animals into good homes, there’s just way too much work to do to get to that point.

Game Play 7/20
Graphics 7/10
Sound 7/10
Controls 3/5
Stability 4/5
Appropriateness 50/50
Final Score 78%

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Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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