With the invasion of pet shop management games into the casual games
market, it’s hard to get enthusiastic when another comes out. Of
course, here we treat all new games the same — reviewing based on the
game’s merits, not what the market produces (unless the game clones
another one). As soon as we start playing, however, we realize our gut
instincts were right: Pets Fun House doesn’t electrify.

The opening cutscene – which tells the story – shows comic-strip style
panels, only the panels sweep in and out like an adult discovering
PowerPoint’s transition features for the first time. Since these
stories typically appear only at the beginning, ending, and sometimes
in between, we let the "green paw" move slide for now.

In Pets Fun House, players raise up to eight breeds of dogs and
cats in a pet shop and buy supplies prior to starting a new level.
These supplies help feed, bathe, medicate, and entertain the pets as
they grow from puppy-dom and kitty-dom into potential family members.
Prospective owners come into the shop requesting a breed, whether or
not they’re available. The store also earns money by selling supplies
to current owners.

The game instructs us how to play, and there we find another problem:
the slipshod writing. We love it that the casual games industry has an
international reach, but English as a second language doesn’t excuse
shoddy writing with sentences like "a new toy is added to your shelve"
and "nice jobs!" when you play the memory game. The game developer can
still write the story, but for goodness sakes… hire an editor to
clean it up. It doesn’t cost as much to have someone edit the content
as it is to write the story from scratch.

To win a level, players must reach the profit goal and sometimes it
takes a few days to make it happen. Every level provides a certain
number of days to reach the goal. As the game turns more challenging,
players have more days to reach the goal.

When the player reaches the goal or the day ends, the game abruptly
interrupts with a screen that says "GOAL!" or shows the day’s report.
When starting a new day, the game picks up where it left off with the
same pets requesting the same supplies prior to the cut-off. Here, the
game should keep the same pets, but should start over with supply
requests. This whole level and day thing doesn’t smoothly transition
from one day or one level to the next.

As you earn profit, you also earn unlocked items like floors, pictures,
and lighting walls to dress up the shop. These upgrades don’t impress
since you only get one upgrade at a time. Why bother picking the
unlocked item? Just add the new decor and let us know what we’ve
earned.

The game has an unexploited gem in its pet sales report. At the start
of a level, the game displays the report on the top breeds and their
most needed supplies. Based on this, we pick the top breeds for selling
while ignoring advice on supplies as we just buy enough to ensure
coverage. However, rarely do we see owners actually selecting the top
breeds and instead we find ourselves scrambling to raise one of every
breed. In other words, the pet sales report rarely helps with selecting
the right animal and breeds. Had it been, the feature would stand out.

As we outgrow a shop, we move on up to a bigger shop. The new shop
rearranges the supplies requiring players to come up with new
strategies for fulfilling the animals’ and customers’ requests.
Furthermore, the supplies take on a new design. In one shop, the pooper
scooper looks like a standard dustpan. In another, it’s a litter box.

The comic relief comes in when we give the animal a pooper scooper or
medicine. For the pooper scooper, a restroom door with a male and
female icon appears hiding the animal while it does its business. When
we play doctor to give the animal its medicine, a hospital curtain
appears.

Guess what game the bonus level uses? Memory. Finding matching pairs of
cards as fast as you can. This card game also makes up the second game
mode.

The game turns into a frenzy in later levels that memorizing who needs
what first goes out the window. We scramble to satisfy the animals’
needs quickly only to find them going to heaven by watching their ghost
float up. Kind of depressing. Other similar games just have the animal
disappear (not necessarily due to death) or provide no points.

Casual gamers won’t find a reason to replay the game or to keep the volume turned up. Pets Fun House may miss a few things, and younger players might struggle with the challenging levels and the disturbing animal "deaths." Pets Fun House is like an unmotivated student who – with a few changes – could blossom to become a BPOC (big pet on campus).