Petz Preview: There’s Some Strategy HereS

Sometimes at a press event, it's a good idea to try the one game everybody doesn't want to play – because it's usually right next to the one everybody would kill to see.

That's right: Petz was my devious strategy to get a good look at Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines. Was it worth it? Actually, yes – if I hadn't done it, I never would have discovered that there is in fact a lavender-colored PSP out there with a glittery finish.

Seriously, it's no wonder nobody would go near that part of the venue. It's like they could sense the glitter.

What Is It?
Petz is a pet simulation game where you adopt any one of a number of cute animals, depending on the pack (hamsterz, horsez, babiez, whatever).

What We Saw
The pack I spent time with was a puppy pack and the screens Sony provided for this preview look like they're for horses — on a home console, not the PSP.

How Far Along Is It?
The game ships in November.

What Needs Improvement?
We're Not To Tamagotchi Yet: I'm not advocating the slaying of pets in any way, shape or form. However, I'm disappointed that there are almost no consequences for neglecting your pet. If you fail to feed them or refuse to pet them, the worst thing that happens is that they run away back to the adoption center where I think you can just re-adopt them. That's… kind of upsetting. I'd like it better if PETA showed up at your virtual door, rescued the pet and then punched you in the face.

Leave It On The DS: The PSP version of Petz tries to mimic stylus controls with the analog stick – such as petting your puppy on the head or flinging a Frisbee. It doesn't work well at all.

What Should Stay The Same?
It's Cute: That is the sole purpose of this game – to be cute – and at that, it excels. So much so that I caught myself making the noise I make in real life when petting a cute puppy. And I almost forgot my brilliant plan about sidling up to Bloodlines when nobody was looking.

Final Thoughts
Pets sims have their place in the world and it's not for me to say that place isn't on the PSP. I just wish they'd changed the control scheme to something more appropriate for the analog stick and maybe added something PSP-specific. Like a dog park editor – I could totally get in on that.