Pet City may look a lot like Pet Society, but it does have its own charms
The social gaming space is wrought with titles that mimic the successes of older, successful apps, and often this is done without even so much as the courtesy of subtlety. At first glance, Pet City seems like it would fit into this category, working strikingly similarly to Playfish’s Pet Society. Nevertheless, while the core elements of the game are, more or less, the same, the new title actually comes with a host of concepts that make it feel a bit more unique.
A virtual pet game, you jump into the world of Pet City by creating an anthropomorphic critter-person of the cute and fuzzy variety. From here, your sole task is to care for them and live a virtual life; visiting friends, playing mini-games, and decorating a digital home. A 2D setup like Pet Society or PetVille, the game is basically like a flattened version of The Sims, only cuter.
Every few hours you need to take care of your virtual pet avatar. This includes cleaning, feeding, and playing with it, but it is here that the first major difference between Pet City and its predecessors appears. Whenever one of these caring actions are done, you’ll earn experience and coin, as well as random bonus items to put towards collections that can be turned in for even more experience and currency when completed. The rewards are not always monetary though.
This concept of randomly dropping items comes from just about every major action in the game and some of them are learning items. These learning items can be exchanged for more daily caring activities such as brushings or karate. As more are learned, you can earn more and more experience and coin per day. The items aren’t limited to this either. In another interesting mechanic, you can turn in certain items to purchase toys. With these, you will be able to interact with other avatars (e.g. those of friends) and play with them for even more rewards. These include everything from pogo sticks to light sabers. As a social element, these dropped items can also be gifted.
Style like this is found throughout the game. It especially shines in terms of the décor, as the in-game stores are completely saturated with incredible looking items for your virtual home or avatar’s wardrobe. There is literally something for every style palette, and decorations range from the very pink and frilly to sleek and contemporary (many items can also be interacted with — such as watering plants — for extra reward). What makes this even better is that the threshold to acquiring it all is fairly low. Once a day, you appear to get a “shopping spree” where you receive 2,000 coins and five minutes to buy as much as you can. Most of the bigger items are more than that amount, but it’s a great way to get new players hooked.
Pet City also comes with a handful of mini-games that unlock as you level up. They are nothing terribly extravagant, but consist of things like a track and field race where you have to avoid obstacles and jump over hurdles, earning currency based on your placement. There also looks to be a very interesting music-based game, but it doesn’t unlock until a whopping level 52.
In terms of complaints for Pet City, the jury is still out on one of the social mechanics. You are able to feed your pet with meals that will last for a certain period of time. When the meal is finished, rewards (including the random items) are granted, but to cook them in the first place, ingredients are required. Unfortunately, the only way to earn them is to buy them with virtual currency or have them gifted by friends. It’s not really the end of the world, but as a personal opinion, the way ingredients are earned in Restaurant City is better. There, players earn random ingredients through daily quizzes and can sometimes buy them for large sums of earnable in-game currency. This allows players to play without always nagging their friends.
Regardless, this is only a picked nit in the grand scheme of things and fact of the matter is that there is still plenty of other things to do in Pet City. It’s not the most original game, but it is cute and offers a number of quality ideas and beautiful decorative options. Moreover, there is a reward for almost everything. Top this off with high quality visuals and sound design, and you have a game that is certainly worth trying.