Last month, Ben was riding on the last train home from a concert, when he spotted an odd little black object on the floor. It turned out to be a left-behind Nintendogs DS game cartridge. After getting back home, he got it to work and discovered two lost pups inside the game. His tale of rescuing these abandoned digital dogs then went viral on TikTok.
Known as Bennypvideo on TikTok, Ben’s saga of finding lost programmable pups on a train has racked up a combined 640k views on the video platform. In the three videos chronicling his story of discovering and rescuing these two doggies, you can see many viewers asking for more updates and details. So Kotaku reached out to get them. It’s a story that has connected with many and it all happened by accident.
Nintendogs is a pet simulation franchise from, you guessed it, Nintendo. In the games—released across DS and 3DS between 2006 and 2011—players raise, train, and nurture digital puppies using the handheld console’s touchscreen, mic, and stylus. Players have to feed and clean the puppies too, and if left alone they will start to miss their owner or get bored. It’s like a much cuter and more exciting spin on a Tamagotchi.
“It was a Saturday night and I was riding high with maybe a couple too many beers in my system, sat on my last train home, and mindlessly scrolling through my phone,” Ben told Kotaku via email, “I started to feel Not Very Good so put my phone away and just kind of stared around the carriage for a while. My eyes landed on a little black square under a row of seats near me and I thought, ‘Huh, kind of looks like a DS game.’”
Eventually, his curiosity got the better of him and he pulled out his phone to record himself finding it and picking it up, mainly as a joke to send to his friends. When he got closer he realized that it was indeed a DS cartridge. He “milked” the moment a bit longer by not flipping it over right away and then when he did, he was shocked to see he had found an old, beaten up and forgotten copy of Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS.
“I was so wrapped up in filming the thing I’d found I nearly missed my stop,” admitted Ben.
Once he got home, and after recovering from his night out, it took a few more days before he had enough free time to tinker with his newly discovered DS game. Thankfully his old Nintendo DS had a bit of charge left, so he grabbed it and popped Nintendogs into the console. But as seen in his second TikTok video documenting the discovery, the game didn’t work. Nothing happened when it was plugged in. The DS didn’t even recognize the cart at all. As a longtime video and content creator, this was when he realized this could be a fun story.
“I filmed the trial and error of trying to get the game working for maybe like 15 minutes before turning to the internet for advice,” explained Ben. A quick search pointed him in the right direction, and he used some cotton swabs and alcohol to clean the DS cartridge’s back slots, which appear incredibly dirty in the TikTok video. After some more work and experimenting with different cleaning methods, he decided to give the game another shot, put it back in his DS, booted up the console, and…it worked! “The surprise in my voice says it all,” said Ben. “So, so satisfying.”
Once it worked, he discovered two digital puppies sleeping inside: Tyson and Enzo. He also learned that their previous owner, Sean, didn’t spend much time with the two dogs–but it’s impossible to know if Sean meant to leave them or for how long they have been separated. Regardless, Ben fed and cleaned both pups and played with them using every toy available in the game. The next day, Ben tried to boot up the game again. But to his horror, the cart stopped working again. Luckily, some more cleaning and rebooting got it running once more, and he was able to take the pups for a walk.
Now, however, comes the question of what’s next. According to Ben, nobody has come forward to claim to be, or know the previous owner, Sean. Ben told Kotaku that some folks have offered to take the puppies off his hands, but for now, he’s holding onto them, while he works on his own “grassroots investigation” to find Sean, assuming the owner even wants these dogs back.
According to Ben, he never expected this random video to go viral on TikTok. After he sent the first videos to his friends and didn’t get much of a response, he decided to use his newly created TikTok account to share his saga online. The combo of Ben’s slick editing, cute pups, and Nintendogs/DS nostalgia seems to have been a winner on TikTok.
He also didn’t expect some folks to share their own stories of digging up old copies of Nintendogs to say hi to their past digital pets and give them some much-needed love all these years later.
“I think I’ve awoken a lot of guilt in some people, realizing their Nintendogs have been in the attic for a decade now,” says Ben. “And listen, I’m no saint. I had a copy of the game when I was about 12 too, and gun to my head I could not tell you where it is now. It’s not something I’m proud of but we all make mistakes. I’m hoping these videos will make people look back fondly at their time with their dogs, maybe even check back in. Take it from a guy who’s been playing a lot of Nintendogs lately, the game kind of holds up!
As for when the next (and final) part of this TikTok saga will be uploaded, stay tuned. Ben tells me the video is done recording and should be uploaded “soon.” And as much as he enjoys all the viral success and views, the whole ordeal has been surreal and given him a lot to ponder these last few weeks.
“I’ve spent the last 10 years making all kinds of videos (mainly for other people) and now my most viewed clip is of me drunkenly picking stuff off a train floor in the middle of the night,” admitted Ben.
“I think I’m gonna go sit in a dark room and have a long hard think.”