Wednesday, August 31, 2005

At least it doesn't get fleas

"You sound like an idiot."

These were Hillary's first words to me upon wandering into our computer room early Saturday morning. And really, I couldn't argue the point.

I was playing "Nintendogs" on my new Nintendo DS. You've probably seen the television or magazine ads, and thought to yourself "oh, wonderful, another virtual pet game".

Well, I suppose so, but this thing is so detailed and realistic, it's scary. Dogs in the game really do act like real dogs. They have unique personalities based on their breed, gender, training, and other random factors that change with each individual puppy. Many of the subtle quirks and behaviors my virtual Welsh Corgi, "Callie", displays are eerily similar to those of the real dog I owned when I was younger.

The coolest aspect of Nintendogs is the method of interaction between you and your pet. While you can use the PDA-like stylus on the DS touchscreen to pet, wash, and play with your dog, training happens in the form of voice commands. You actually talk to your DS, using its built-in microphone input. Your dog learns its name, and you can teach it to do tricks on command (which opens up some hilariously distasteful possibilities -- I know one of the SomethingAwful goons named his virtual doberman "Hitler" and taught it to wave when he yelled "Sieg Heil!"). I went the slightly more politically correct route; Callie knows a multitude of tricks from "shake a leg" to "breakdance" to "Jackie Chan" (where she rolls onto her back and then flips up onto her feet).

So yes, on that cold, cloudy Saturday morning, I did, indeed, sound like an idiot. Of course, I felt better about this a few hours later, when my lovely wife made another very quotable exclamation:

"Can I make a puppy too?"


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