Roll over, Nintendogs + Cats: there is a new 3D dog in town. Meet Wappy Dog, a robot dog that you interact with through a Nintendo DS game that was jointedly developed by Activision and Sega Toys. This game bundle is sure to be on many Christmas wish lists when it hits the stores this fall.
Wappy Dog pushes the virtual pet genre by creating a real toy that reacts to the virtual interactions that take place in the DS game, which can create a more visceral bond between toy and gamer than a traditional video game. The goal of this game is for the player to learn to raise a dog from puppy to adulthood, so it begins with naming the robot, to teaching it tricks, playing mini-games and conversing with it through the DS game (it can understand 18 questions and responds with over 350 different "barks"). The robot will in turn bark and move, mimicking the real thing.
But this game is not as straight-forward as its predecessors, where the player can game the system by brushing the dog's fur a certain number of times to accumulate in-game trainer points like in Nintendogs. According to the press release, "The player's interaction with their Wappy Dog determines the pet's constantly evolving personality, skills, and happiness." In other words, you will have no one to blame but your pet-rearing skills (or lack thereof) for your overly needy or unresponsive Wappy Dog. Thankfully, you can read your dog's mood by the color of its cheeks.
Need to go out but can't justify bringing a robot dog along? (People can be so cruel.) Simply switch your game to "Travel Mode" on the DS, which allows the player to continue caring for the digital version of the dog while on the go. When you get home, you can update the dog's progress from your DS back to the robot dog.
For someone who has always wanted a dog couldn't own one for whatever reason, the Wappy Dog makes for a non-hypoallergenic canine alternative that you can't accidentally hurt (according to DadDoes.com's preview of the game, "Wappy is immortal") or irresponsibly add to the SPCA population.
Still can't quite wrap your mind around playing with a robot dog through a video game? Have a look at this game trailer from Activision.
Will this game do for wannabe dog owners what Rock Band and Guitar Hero has done for the music game genre? We will find out this holiday season.