This puppy gets lost among technical issues and boring level design.

The simplicity of most mobile titles can often blur the line between a cute little time-waster, and a quality videogame. There are a variety of games that seek to offer nothing but a short-but-sweet experience that provides an enjoyable and memorable time. With Puppy Tales, such a noble attempt falls well short of its goal, leaving behind a product that is both brief and unpolished.

A spiritual successor of sorts to MoMini’s 2012 release Ninja Chicken, Puppy Tales is another auto-scrolling runner that requires you to safely navigate a puppy through thirty levels. The auto-run platformer style is one that has been played out over the past few years, but still has the potential to shine. Unfortunately, Puppy Tales takes no risks in its approach, and is plagued by a variety of technical and design issues

Anyone familiar with the genre will feel right at home with the control scheme.  The puppy runs automatically, and is accompanied by a jump button and a dash button. During the course of a level there are power-ups that turn the dash into flight, invincibility, or a devastating earthquake. These power-ups provide a bit of flash that similar titles neglect. Unlike the power-ups, the obstacles and hazards aren’t too original for the genre. There are enemies to jump on, webs you need to dash through, platforms to jump over, and holes to avoid. These hazards are easy to avoid as it is, but Puppy Tales uses a health system, so if you happen to get hit once, you can still manage to take a few more.

The basic hazards and health system make Puppy Tales one of the easiest side-scrolling platformers on Android. Combine the ease with the length of each level, and most players will plow through the game quickly. Quick games aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but the challenge that goes along with most games of this type is left out entirely, and—upon seeing the final cutscene—there’s zero sense of a job well done.

Puppy Tales

The length and difficulty of Puppy Tales are both disappointing, but the biggest letdown of all is on the technical side. The first noticeable issue comes from how well the game runs, which isn’t anything to brag about. The frame rate drops from time to time, and it happened on multiple devices. The inconsistent frame rate is far from the worst of the problems in the game, but it’s one of the most notable ones, and it is likely to be the first to hurt your experience.

Once the game begins, it’s apparent that not much time was devoted to sprite animations or other visual polish. The way the cute puppy runs is a bit sad, and the other animations don’t do much in the way of making up for it. On a similar note, jumping on enemies is easier than one would imagine. This isn’t because the puppy is the second coming of Mario, but because it is common for the game to assume you landed on top of an enemy while you clearly missed it. This same sensation applies to jumping on ledges and over holes. This issue never works against you, and the game is even easier because it exists.

Puppy Tales

Puppy Tales isn’t at the bottom of the barrel, but it’s not far off. Cute graphics and fun power-ups get lost in a sea of technical problems, poor design choices, and a genre that’s more played out than ever. It’s hard to recommend Puppy Tales for anyone. Someone is bound to love it, but with so many similar—and better—titles out there, this puppy isn’t worth your time.