With pet-themed time management games raining like cats and dogs on the casual game industry, we've come to expect more from the late-comers. Although Pet Show Craze won't win any Best in Show awards, it does deliver a couple of treats.
Anyone who has played two or three pet games already will experience déjà vu. Pet Show Craze contains similar activities as the ones in Purrfect Pet Shop and Paradise Pet Salon, including bathing, feeding, beautifying, and treating the pets. Like Pet Shop Hop, there's a David vs. Goliath story in that it's Mom and Pop shop versus evil empire.
The main character, Maria, discovers that Petsville is about to close and a big company plans to buy all the land to build plastic animals that need no caring, feeding, or walking. Kira, the not so nice gal, believes the plastic pet business can make a greater profit than the real thing.
Every level has two goals: money and happiness. Money upgrades furniture, equipment, and employees. Happiness buys charms, which you shop for like upgrades. Three charms charge up with every combo (doing the same activity in a row) and these you can only have one per level. You pick the combo charm at the start each level. You can upgrade combo charms to extend their power.
The other charms - such as earning five more coins for every haircut or customers coming in with an extra heart - work as soon as you buy them. You can also cheer up customers by making them a snack that matches their request or click the coffee maker when a guy has one heart left and make him a drink and snack to pump up the heart volume.
A hair dryer or comb pops up when a pet needs blow drying or hair styling. In the hair dryer mini-game, a line moves up and down and players need to click the window as soon as the line falls into the green zone - the most comfortable temperature - to earn the most money.
Not only do you give the seven animals new 'dos, but also stylin' outfits. For combing, select the hair style that brings in the most money - animals sport styles ranging from wild to wacky that'll make you smile. This is a mindless game, but you'll be able to skip it on occasion by earning charm bonuses by keeping customers happy.
Once in a while, a seek and find game pops up where you hunt down a bunch of the same objects. Kittens run off during the story and you must find all 17 of them. This ties in nicely with the story.
Pet Show Craze has three salons that provide a lovely change of scenery. The first one feels darker while the second one has windows to brighten the place and the third sits on the beach. A new salon can set you back, which annoys a little because you have to buy some of the same toys again. It'd be fresher to buy a different set of toys and change the look of the tables.
When switching out of the program to check email or do something else on the computer, the game freezes almost every time. Furthermore, clicking things doesn't always take, which creates tiresome mouse work. Chaining and clicking ahead work well, but there's no way to undo any action.
Forty-eight levels, 10 customer types, seven in-game mini-games, seven outside mini-games, 12 products for sale, 60 salon upgrades, 13 charms, and 15 trophies fill up Pet Show Craze to the brim. Sometimes it feels like too much is happening, especially when you have to constantly wake up the vet, tell the stylist to get off the phone, and avoid seating similar customers next to each other.
Despite the varied options, the game drags in the first 10 levels. It picks up speed as you buy upgrades and earn bonuses, though, so play a few levels and wait until more upgrades and features are available before giving up.
Maria can also change outfits for every level, and you can either change her outfit or choose the random option so you don't have to mess with it. The first-rate graphics and lively music drive players to work hard and fast. It's tough to buy and upgrade everything before completing all 48 levels, so players will keep playing to win all the upgrades and trophies.
If Pet Show Craze had come out before the multitude of pet games, it would do better. But many of its features and gameplay are nothing new so that its few innovative features get lost in the zoo. Anyone who hasn't played many of the pet games will think Pet Show Craze as the cat's pajamas, while others see it as a drone.
- Long-lasting. Clever bonuses. Random outfits. Humorous visuals.
- Tedious. Not original. Minor technical glitches.