Purr Pals gives you the chance to adopt a kitten and see to its every need. If you or a loved one has cat allergies, here is your chance to work out those kitty cravings without that unsightly runny nose, sneezing or hives. (Not to mention the oh-so-lovely litter box.)
You begin the game with enough cash to buy your first kitten and still have a bit of money left. You'll find you have 40 different breeds to choose from. There were breeds here that I had never even heard of. They were, of course, all adorable. Once you select your breed, you get to customize the markings (this is limited to realistic variations of the basic breed), change the eye color and customize the whiskers. The whiskers choice is where it gets a little wild - you can have a kitty with hot pink whiskers if you want. I'm thinking if you tried to give a kitty colored whiskers, you'd end up with plain whiskers and a trip to the emergency room for yourself. At this point, you decide whether you want a boy kitty or a girl kitty. The boys are a bit larger and start with a different color collar. Finally, you get to name the little fur ball. You can have a name of up to 10 characters long, so go wild (but not too wild).
Once you get your kitten home, you'll find it has needs. There are not a lot of needs, but they sure do need constant maintenance. Each cat has a preferred level of Food, Cleanliness, Affection and Play. The higher the preference level of a given trait, the more often you're going to need to tend that trait to keep your kitty happy.
You'll buy food at the store to give your kitty a happy tummy. There's basic food, and for just slightly more money, you can buy foods that help reduce other needs, as well - you can get Shiny Kitten for Cleanliness, Cuddly Kitten for Affection and Playful Kitten for Play. Since my kitten, Misty, has a high demand for play, I buy the Playful Kitten food for her. When it's time to feed your kitten, you need to use the stylus to vigorously shake the food pouch over the bowl until food stops coming out. You get a short break at this point while you watch your kitten eat until the bowl is empty. If you put the game down to write (or something), you'll know the kitten is done when you hear the crunching noises stop.
You help your kitten's Cleanliness in two ways - you need to groom her regularly, and you need to keep her litter box clean. The litter is all "Buried Treasure" brand. As you buy more expensive litter, you get more days of use, but it also appears that it contributes to the other needs of the kitten. There's a little brush by Silver level, a heart by Gold level and a ball by Gems level. It seems you only get the description of the litter the first time you select it. If you don't remember the stats on the different litters the next time you go shopping, oh well. The manual isn't going to help. Also, along with buying new litter as needed, you will need to scoop the litter regularly to remove clumps.
Your kitten will need lots of love. You need to spend time petting your kitten to keep her happy. You can basically pet for as long as you want, but you'll know when the kitten is done. Little hearts come off of the kitty, and she purrs and purrs when you're petting and meeting that love need. When the kitten is done with being petted, she will sit up, and no more hearts appear, and the purring stops.
Unfortunately, I found Play the most tedious need to meet, and that's the highest need on my kitten. Initially, I started with a fishing pole with a toy fish attached. I use the stylus to shake the pole around while the kitty stalks and pounces the little fish. I was really happy when I was able to buy the windup mouse for my kitten to chase. I did have to wind it regularly, but it wasn't the constant motion of that dang fishing pole.
You will get a daily allowance to help cover your kitty's expenses. Your allowance is adjusted by how well or poorly you meet your new pet's needs. Given the cost of litter, food and extras, your cat would starve if the allowance was your only source of income. Luckily for you, there a few more money-making options.
There are a series of Purina Cat Show options. There is an entry fee for each show, and the fee goes up as you progress. You unlock the next show in the series by placing well in the current show. The first show is the one-day show. You have a full, real day to prepare for the show. Your kitten is judged on how completely you have met all of her needs. Once you've optimized the needs, head to the show. Depending on how you place, you can earn a nice cash prize. Misty took 2nd place in her first show and brought home a $20 prize. Not bad for a $5 entry fee.
Thankfully, there are also four mini-games. There's no entry fee to the mini-games, you can play them as often as you want, and success earns small cash prizes. Frankly, you'll earn cash much faster (at least initially) by playing a bunch of mini-games than by spending a day or more getting ready for a cat show.
The music game is my absolute favorite. There are four kittens sitting pretty around a microphone. There is a selection of easy, medium and hard songs. Basically, you tap the notes with the stylus at the right time in the right order. The more accurate you are, the more money you earn. The greater the difficulty of the song, the more money you earn. My only real complaint in this area is that I wish there were more songs from which to choose. You have two easy songs, three medium songs and four hard songs. I love hearing the kittens meow the songs, though I cringe a little every time I miss a note.
Copy cat game is a memory game. There's a kitty tunnel with four spots where the kitty can pop up. You have to tap the spots to match the sequence. The sequence builds on itself, and there's one more step in the sequence each time. My best so far is getting 10 steps right. At 10 steps, I still only got a $1 payoff. That was kind of disappointing.
The cupid game has two kitties sitting on a fence. Little hearts are coming off the kitties as they sing to each other. You have a little bow and arrow that you use the stylus to aim and shoot. You're trying to pop the hearts. I did not have a ton of success with this game, and again, the payoff was pretty low.
Finally, there is Alley Oop. You use the stylus to toss a ball through a basketball hoop. Apparently, if you aim just right, the kitten gives you an assist. I was never able to get it right, so once again I didn't have much success with this game.
Now that you have all this money burning a hole in your piggy bank, and you've bought all the litter and food your kitten needs, it's time to look at other purchases. The biggest purchase, of course, is adopting another kitten. You can have up to five kittens at once. The disappointment factor is that you can only have one kitten out at a time. You can't have your kittens play with each other.
There are options to let you upgrade the dйcor in your virtual home (consisting of a kitchen, bathroom, garden and living room), or you can buy accessories for your kitten. There are a few different toys you can buy to play with your kitten, and you can buy different things to dress up your kitten. You have options for hats, collar tags, eye war, nose wear and collars. You can also get different designs in food or water bowls or kitten beds.The good
You have a lot of different kittens from which to choose. If you can't find a kitten you like in this bunch, get another game and go play a dog. The music mini-game is loads of fun. The kitten meows and purrs and runs around and is fun to watch. I like that you have a handy squirt bottle to spray the kitten and teach her some manners when she's jumping on the counters and making bad choices. I think it's kind of funny that if you leave the game running and ignore your kitten, she claws at the screen and leaves little visible, virtual claw marks. I also like that Purr Pals takes care of regular game saves without the player having to stay on top of that. For younger children, I think that's a great idea.The bad
I can't seem to find a way to pause the game. I have a life, and I don't like that the kitten's needs keep deteriorating even when I'm not playing. Yes, if I hit the Start button, it does bring up the "Paws Menu," but it doesn't actually pause when I'm on that screen. The kitten continues and runs around, and the needs continue to increase into the red zone.The ugly
Purr Pals has some bugs. There are a few graphics glitches that you can work around. The main issue is that I get regular system lock-ups. Either it goes to a white screen and freezes when I select a new option, or the game just freezes on the screen I'm on. Either way, the only way around it is to turn off the DS and start over.The bottom line
For my cat-loving daughter with severe cat allergies, Purr Pals is a nice option to let her play with a cat without endangering her health. The game is simple to use and has some fun mini-games. The kittens look good - they move like kittens and sound like kittens. There aren't any features to unlock, and the main challenge will be keeping up with the kitten's needs, but for a younger child, I'm not sure I'd want anything all that complex. For what it does, Purr Pals is a fun little cat game.