|Publisher: Legacy Interactive Genre: Simulation|
|Min OS X: Any Version CPU: G4 @ 400 MHz RAM: 128 MB|
For once, curiosity did not kill the cat; in fact, it cured him. And I was very curious to get my hands on Pet Pals: Animal doctor, taunted by Legacy Interactive as an introduction to “life as a veterinarian.” I was intrigued by this fresh computer game concept, one of many in a slew of recent edutainment titles. Unfortunately, as the life of a veterinarian is full of glee and misery, such is the fate of computer gaming. Pet Pals is just a tad too educational for its targeted demographic. Leave a kid in front of this game for 20 minutes and I guarantee he will ask for his summer back.
Med school in a box, err digital downloadAs mentioned, Pet Pals places you in the role of a newly hired veterinarian. After creating a doctor profile, choosing your favorite skin for the in-game menus (Robin Egg, Iguana Skin, Parrot Paradise, Furry Friend, Ecosystem and Aquarium) and choosing between easy, medium or hard mode, you are greeted by an alien-looking redhead who enthusiastically welcomes you to the team, and guides you through your first case. Using an arsenal of actual medical instruments, you must diagnose and, in most cases, treat the 35 distinct animals that enter your clinic. Your performance is evaluated based on procedure, and there are a variety of mini-games to keep any grammar-schooler occupied for a few minutes.
When you enter the patient room, you must first listen to the owner’s description of the problem. A member of the nursing staff will then make his or her remarks (which range from optimistic to annoyed) and the fate of the animal is placed in your hands. Following procedure, your first task is to question the owner more specifically about their pet. You are given a choice of five questions, and you must discern the three that are most relevant—a scoff-worthy task. The real meat of the game follows, as you utilize your medical tool belt to diagnose and treat the animal.
There are six groups of instruments used to examine, monitor, test, maintain, operate on and medicate the patient, and 44 tools in all. These include everything from a medical syringe and oxygen mask, to a scalpel and EKG monitor. The tools are impressive, and the process of diagnosis is just as remarkable. Depending on the difficulty level you set, you're either guided (easy mode, for younger players) or supervised (via hints, which deduct points from your total score). If you follow procedure correctly, conduct the right tests (and avoid the wrong ones) and diagnose the patient correctly, you are rewarded with a perfect score, and the process repeats. Fuzzy tarantulas, scaly iguanas, and clown fish are just of few of the 35 patients you need treat.
In addition to the regular gameplay, there are a few piddling mini-games. These include a jigsaw puzzle, a matching game, and a multiple choice test-like “game” that supplies the player with a plethora of interesting animal facts. The first two are clearly designed for a younger audience, but the third contains some really fascinating information—did you know that cats do not meow to communicate with each other?
The game also features a glossary of medical jargon, for those future med students among us, and a detailed encyclopedia of the animals featured in the game.