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CONSOLE: Nintendo DS DEVELOPER: Magic Pockets PUBLISHER: Ubisoft
RELEASE DATE (NA): February 26, 2008 GENRE: Virtual Pet
// review by Emily

Meow-diocre.

I've probably mentioned a hundred times the fact that I've previously worked with tigers. I'm not trying to brag or anything; I'm just proud of what I've been able to do about a cause that I'm passionate about. Granted, I only worked with them for a month and a half, but that time was long enough that I learned plenty about caring for and even training big cats. (And a few small ones!) I've seen this game several places and was curious about its context. Was it set on a reserve? In the wild? In a zoo? After playing Catz on stream and seeing all of the little "accidents" and how...kind of fun it was, I simply had to play this game!

When trying to find the game, I found out that the same game was released with two different names and two different box arts. One is called "Pets Wild Animals: Tigerz" and features two full-grown tigers. The other is "Tigerz: Circus Life" and prominently displays a cute cuddly tiger cub. Neither are actually correct concerning the game's story. The story...yeah. It actually doesn't have much of anything to do with tigers. Basically, a guy and a girl spend the summer working for their former trainer grandfather and end up essentially traveling the globe doing what was supposed to be Gramps' forte. You might think, "Ohh, this is where the tigers come in, right? You train them around the world?"

Nope.

Gramps just pulls two tigers from his back pants pockets like the extra change from his last McDonald's visit.

It's seriously, "Oh, yeah. I have these two tigers. I want to start a reserve. Take full responsibility for them." That's...that's not how it works. You can't take care of two large tigers with no knowledge of how to take care of them. Luckily, Grandpa pulls another surprise out of his pockets: a veterinarian! However, he does nothing but threaten to take the tigers away if you so much as bend a whisker the wrong way. He pretty much takes the same role as the blue-haired girl from the Catz game. They just kind of take control over the situation even though they don't really have the authority to do so. Anyway, the two teens travel the world training such super circus-y animals such as a dog...and a cat...and a football monkey. Well, you don't really "train" them. You just kind of guide them through a single trick and then you're done and on your way back home to take care of two tigers who have been given names that sound like cheap crackers. This is basically a repeating pattern. Train animals, take care of tigers, train animals, take care of tigers.

The game tries to insert a bit of conflict, but it's not successful at all. Seriously. The conflict is so menial, they should have just stuck to the dilemma of raising the tigers correctly. The big hoo-hah? Someone is spreading bad rumors about Grandpa! Oh NO! Whatever shall become of us in such perilous times? You would think a game called TIGERZ would focus a little more on, you know...the actual tigers? Not rumors and training random cats and dogs halfway across the world? To be honest, the tiger part of "Tigerz" seems almost secondary to everything else. They could have named it Global Animal Training and been on point with advertising.


Tigers and tigers and tigers, oh my!

I'll talk about raising these tiger "cubs" first. Many places I've read about the game call these tigers "babies" or the like. Pffffft. Baby tigers don't look like they could kill you if you woke them from their 245 hour nap. If you're expecting cute little tiger cubs to romp around and cuddle with, this ain't your game, pal. Grandpa whipped out two full-grown tigers from those back pockets. They came out with pocket lint, too, so you have to clean that off every once in a while. Cleaning is apparently detrimental to the tigers' health. You basically rub your stylus all over the tiger, rub off the lint, spray, and you're good. Feeding them requires math skills. You have so many pounds of meat and have to collect a certain weight before feeding it to the tigers. That part is actually legitimate to reality. The affection section? Not so much. I wouldn't recommend tickling a tiger's chin with a feather. Overall, the gameplay concerning the tigers is just rubbing your stylus over parts of the screen. Meh.

There's a shop you can buy items from to take care of your tigers. There's high-quality items and then not-so-good items. However, some of the items are a little out of place. When buying food, I scrolled all the way down to the cheapest items out of curiosity. Did...did I just see a banana? Yes, indeed. Buy a banana for your tiger and see how quickly he chomps it down. Hint: tigers don't eat fruit. Cats don't normally eat fruit. A jar of honey? Are you serious?! No wonder this stuff is so cheap. Milk? Oh boy, don't even get me started. Cats should probably not have milk. That's a scientific fact that I will pound into everyone. Yes, cats and milk go together in cartoons. In reality, cats can suffer intestinal distress since they are technically lactose intolerant to cow milk. So now I will say this loud and clear. As a long time cat owner and as an animal caretaker to several different kinds of exotic cats:

PLEASE DO NOT GIVE YOUR CATS COW MILK.

That is all. Anyway, some of the options are ridiculous. Items gained from completing quests are unidentifiable and I haven't been able to locate them in my inventory. Oh well.

Tigerz is a game that's pretty much based on stats. The more you do, the closer you'll get to raising your stats to experience easier gameplay. Essentially, the game start out hard and ends up being easy. For me personally, the moment a game stops being challenging is when I decide to bow out gracefully.

The training part of the game gave me a little trouble. At first it seems easy. Just trace a pattern on the screen and you're on your way! Then the game's like, "Uhh, balance this wheel. Good luck." Then you have to slide a wheel and balance an arrow exactly in the middle. Going to the dentist for a root canal without Novocain is more enjoyable than this. I got tired of it pretty quickly. They tried to add more elements to the training, but each was more menial than the last. Poking stars in order? Spinning a circle around? YAWN. The actual playing of the game is not very involved, and even though it was about a topic that's dear to me, I couldn't find it in me to suffer through such simple mechanics and repetitive text. "Oh, you're the trainers from such and such. I've heard things about you." "Oh no, Grandpa's good." "Hey, you're not bad. Bye." Aaaand repeat about five or six times.

All in all, the game isn't necessarily bad. It's just not good enough to warrant me actually maintaining interest in it enough to finish it. Heck, I got glassy eyed so much playing the game, I could swear I fell asleep a time or two. Tigerz is one of those games that you could maybe waste an hour or so on it but then pull out something else to play. It looks decent enough, but looks aren't everything in a game. It looks like a cute game about tigers, but it's actually a mediocre mini-game kind of thing. Make sure the such-and-such levels on the tigers don't get too low. Balance the wheel by moving the stylus left and right. Tap on this thing. Trace this shape. Blah blah blah. I came away from Tigerz feeling disappointed. Kind of like the time I didn't move fast enough and had a tiger whizz on my brand new hoodie. I washed that thing four times before I wore it again.


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