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    The Dog Island

    Game » consists of 8 releases. Released May 06, 2008

    "The Dog Island is a game from Yuke's which puts you on an Island with Dogs." -EB Games

    jackijinx's The Dog Island: Hitotsuno no Hana no Monogatari (PlayStation 2) review

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    Why Dogs Can’t Dog Talk

    Imagine an Island full of charming, huge noggined dogs, adorably donning clothing ranging from top hats and ties, to plaid bags and pilot goggles, to pink camouflage 10 gallon hats and monocles, scattered around in places ranging from snowy villages to dry valleys, and then one opens its trap to say, “Have you ever touched a fish? I do love fish!” and the illusion of innocence is shattered. This is the nature of Ubisoft’s Dog Island, a game based upon THE DOG Artist Collection, a company that creates products like playing cards and stationary, and then plasters images of dogs with grotesquely large heads on them, but without actually searching for THE DOG on Google or looking at the entry for this game, there’s scarce a reason you would’ve known that the two entities were related. That’s just one of many things you wouldn’t know by looking at the box alone, like that this is actually a semi-open world RPG adventure, some dogs are willing to put ash in their eyes, or even sniffing for glue will reward you with woofs (the game’s currency) instead of drug addiction. The details are all rather hard to take in and accept, but it’s survivable.

    Kids, don't give your pups steroids
    Kids, don't give your pups steroids
    This wonderful ditty starts off in , your customized pup’s home town. Customization is limited to selecting among 48 breeds, gender selection for both you and your sibling, and picking from about two-hundred accessories, which feels various enough. Soon after the town’s festival, your younger sibling collapses and you volunteer to save the day by going to THE DOG Island and finding a cure for his/her unnamed illness through many needlessly extended scratch and sniff quests. Seriously, I must’ve gone through ten other unrelated quests just to get three flowers for the same absent-minded doctor, including a curing two unrelated, unexplained illnesses and curing a nurse’s fear of blood so that she had the courage to tell me where one of the flowers is located. Best of all, the few hours it took to do—partially due to the loading times not being amiable—was a completely wasted effort. It’s as if the only dogs that care about saving your shemale sib is your family, because while your family is sending you guilt-tripping letters that essentially read, “Hey! Still sick here. But I hope you are having a good time,” a doctor is taking his sweet time working on an illness that he’s worked on before, giving you the ingredients for the vital potion one ingredient at a time, and to make matters even more stressful, pretty much every dog throughout the island is throwing quests at you like they’re going out of style. My own dog couldn’t care less either since he happily accepts quests from anyone when asked, even once going out on four dates in a row for a lack of anything better to do (just for the record, if I could’ve avoided that, I would’ve). The motivation was far worse on my part, probably for the same reasons: dumb dialogue. The lack of creativity in names such as Treely Woods, a dog named Ohlala, and, particularly, the laziness in naming houses like “A House,” while randomly naming other houses “Jeremy’s house.” 
    No Caption Provided

    All this may sound like the has no redeeming qualities, but despite the paper thin storyline, the gameplay almost makes up for all of that. As I stated earlier, this is part RPG, and that means smell-based leveling, aforementioned quests, a health bar, and battles, and before you try to wrap your head around that last bit, yes, there is a final boss. Oddly enough, even with a hearts and enemies, there’s absolutely no violence anywhere in the game. Instead, you sneak up behind creatures like snakes, polar bears, and buffalo when either they’re not looking or asleep, and then scare them with your high pitched barking. Evidently, puppies are just that creepily cute. Scaring is hardly needed for use, but when it is, the AI’s inconsistencies will become evident. While some enemies wouldn’t notice you even if you spat on their face, others will charge at you from half a map away, wondering what you said about their mother, I imagine, which can be rather frustrating when sniffing around. Still, it’s rather fun to see a little puppy knock a gorilla out cold. What’s even more fun is finding new smells, hunting for new items, and collecting items. Sniffing works as a simple metal detector system for the nose, utilizing a detection meter that fluctuates from full to near empty depending on how close an item is, and once an item is found, just dig at it and voila! An apple, blue rose, ash, a switch, ringmaster’s outfit, or even in one case, dirt. Can’t say some of the items really make sense to sniff for, but it’s a game about talking dogs, and, in this case, it doesn’t really matter because it’s fun. Fetch quests normally aren’t, but treasure hunting is, especially since it’s rewarding. 

    Mr. Boar, the feeling is mutual
    Mr. Boar, the feeling is mutual
    Which brings me back to the story. No one cares about the dying sister or brother. We care about having stupid, simple fun. I would’ve been content with the pure Animal Crossing aspects of the game in conjunction with seek and find feature. The writing is not remotely close to being the game’s strong point and should never have been used as the main aspect of this game, because while I really wanted to like this game, I couldn’t because of the utter lack of effort in the story. Unless you are looking for a game with unique systems, don’t mind sickenly cute animals, and can stomach such torture as “Shiver me timbers! Somebody call a doctor,” or are an illiterate child who has a good amount of patience, then don’t touch this game.

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