Making a great virtual pet simulator is no easy task. Finding just the right mixture of depth, micro-managing, possible outcomes, and player freedom all while keeping the fun factor in check is tougher than it sounds. Tactile Entertainment did a good job with the delicate balance in Pocket Creatures for the most part, making for an enjoyable pet sim experience.
Your creature starts off its life as an egg inside a small cavern. After cracking out of its shell, you pick its color and name and then lead it out onto an island. From here you go through a tutorial that teaches you the reins of caring for your new-found friend.
Some of the things to do in the game include feeding your creature, using the bird, anteater, and platypus to complete tasks such as growing plants, and uncovering buried treasure. Pocket Creatures uses OpenFeint for achievements, which when unlocked often lead to new accessories to dress up your creature. You can mix, match, and stack these however you see fit.
Our favorite aspect of the game, however, is the innovative mood mechanic. Your pet’s mood, depicted in a bubble above its head, changes depending on how you treat your pet. You can glide your finger from the pet’s mood bubble to other objects and see what happens. For example, a happy creature will spread joy, while a moody creature will strike others with lightning. Eating certain kinds of food also gives your critter a special trait for a short period of time, such as a shrink ray or invisibility.
The onset of an ice age.
Even though this is great, your creature’s personality is never truly established as unique from other players. Your creature’s mood can be changed in a split second by a couple of taps or swipes on the screen. Having some sort of baseline personality would have made the connection between player and virtual pet even more solid.
Pocket Creatures is a universal app, meaning it can be played with native graphics on either the iPhone or iPad. Unfortunately, there’s no way to sync your pet between devices, so if you want to play on both, you’ll have to create two separate pets. The game looks, feels, and plays much better on the iPad, but if you only own an iPhone it is still a fun, albeit fairly cramped, experience.
Overall, pet lovers are going to find themselves adoring their creature obsessively. Get past the few drawbacks, and there is plenty of fun to be had in Pocket Creatures.