The doctor is in (your dog)
If you’ve got small children and a touchscreen device, there’s a pretty decent chance you’ve already encountered a Toca Boca product or three. That being the case, we can probably dispense with the formal introductions and get right to Toca Pet Doctor, a game seeking kids 2 through 6 to help 15 different pets with their problems. The result is a colorful but brief burst of fun that should put some smiles on the faces of the baby teeth set.
When it comes to intuitive design, Toca Boca is typically on point, and that’s once again the case with Toca Pet Doctor. What you see is what you get: 15 different animals awaiting attention with nary a human in sight. It’s like the waiting room to the world’s cutest and quietest veterinarian’s office.
Tapping on an animal begins its mini-game, each of which asks the player to heal an injury of some sort before feeding the animal in snack. Not all of the maladies are created equal, as the rabbit has what appears to be a very bad multi-bone fracture but the worm simply has his tail tied in a small knot.
Identifying what was wrong was simple enough for my testers (a 5-year old boy and 7-year old girl), and healing the boo-boos usually wasn’t much tougher. Some of the animals do need two-step fixes, like applying lotion followed by a band-aid, but the most difficult single task is probably wrapping an injured limb, which requires the player to swipe in a circular motion to simulate … well, actually wrapping something in gauze.
Even after the animals are healthy, they’re still hungry. That means dragging food to their mouths, learning something about the critters’ diets and how they eat in the process. My kids enjoyed this part of the game, maybe even more than playing doctor.
All throughout, there’s some pleasant if repetitive music playing in the background, along with the animal sounds you’d expect (there’s no fox, so that mystery will remain unsolved). The animations are simple but effective, and the animals who have been helped take naps so it’s easy for little ones to determine who they haven’t seen yet.
You can wake the animals who have already been tended to with a tap, so if your children want to, say, hatch the snake from his egg again, they can. But when all 15 animals have been completed, that’s pretty much it, or in the immortal words of Bill Paxton, “Game over man!” Whether that bothers your young gamer may depend on age. My 5-year old son was happy to go back and repeat some animals, while my 7-year old daughter literally asked, “That’s it?” She was also disappointed that she couldn’t interact with the other objects in the waiting room – even the trash can that appears ready to overflow.
It’s probably worth mentioning, though, that she’s slightly beyond the intended age range for Toca Pet Doctor. The absence of words or instructions of any kind make this more suitable for children who aren’t reading yet, as they’ll still be exposed to concepts like matching shapes and sizes while getting in some fine motor skill practice at the same time.
That’s a semi-long winded way of saying this is another Toca Boca success, one that seems worth the couple of bucks you’ll pay to download it to stay in the hassle-free, safe and educational neighborhood of mobile kids’ games. Kind of makes me wish they had tablets back in the 80s.