Little Friends: Puppy Island, developed by Big Blue Bubble and published by Fireshine Games, combines tropical environments and inquisitive puppies. Adorable puppies are always a plus in any video game, with fans desperate to know if you can pet a dog that they come across in any game. So, Little Friends: Puppy Island won over my heart at first sight. With easy-to-follow gameplay and an adorable aesthetic, it is a combination sure to delight the young puppy fanatic in your life.
Walking the Dog Isn’t Just a Yo-Yo Trick
Little Friends: Puppy Island’s basic premise has you exploring the island, digging up treasure, making friends with popular breeds of dogs, and constructing facilities to improve Puppy Island. When you return home, you will bathe and interact with your puppies. Most of your time with the game will be spent walking your puppy around the island. In fact, the gameplay loop is rather repetitive.
Each dog has five stats – agility, endurance, friendliness, obedience, and speed. Specific levels are required to build new facilities on Puppy Island in the hopes of creating a bustling space for humans and canines alike. Training these skills is a rather straightforward process as it is done through walking your dog, playing fetch with your dog, and patting them.
Other than the above mechanics, there are also multiplayer games that you encounter when you are improving your island. They are not mechanically complicated and just seem like a means to an end. It feels like another shallow mechanic that provides players with something to do; whether or not that something is enjoyable can be debated.
It’s Called Fashion, Baby
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is the ability to dress up your puppies in various funky outfits. My puppy yard ended up looking like a ’90s costume party meets uniform dress-up event. With the ability to customize their clothes, hats, shoes, and sunglasses, the puppies that you own will not ever feel the embarrassment of turning up to the same event in matching outfits.
The dress-up mechanic held my attention for the longest of all game mechanics. Trading dog treats for new items was motivation to continue playing the game. Training my dogs and creating new facilities was fun at first, but the novelty wore off. Especially as the improvements to your island never seem to pay off as it continues to be as devoid of other human existence as it was when you began the game.
The Opinion of a Six-Year-Old
As much as I loved Nintendogs back in the day, I felt like I was not the target audience for Little Friends: Puppy Island. The basic gameplay mechanics and easy-to-follow instructions were clearly designed with a younger audience in mind, and I have the perfect puppy-loving Switch enthusiast living in my house.
Poppy was very excited to play Little Friends: Puppy Island, or as she affectionately calls it, ‘the puppy game’. She spent a great deal of time finding new dogs, taking them back home, bathing them, and dressing them up. She did explore and improve Puppy Island significantly. After around five hours of her playing in total, she was ready to retire the game as she had done everything that there was to do. She found the gameplay too repetitive to continue. Which was a problem that I encountered myself.
After spending time with Little Friends: Puppy Island, I have to say that I can see its appeal when it comes to a young audience. Poppy, at six, already enjoys games of a larger magnitude, and so the gameplay in Little Friends: Puppy Island was just too basic for her. A younger child or one with less video game experience may find the title more enjoyable. That said, it is an incredibly cute game, and the puppies do have some real charm to them. Someone who absolutely loves puppies could find themselves enjoying and relaxing with the game. As long as one doesn’t expect the game to ever dive deeper than the basic mechanics that it presents you with, you could enjoy it for what it is. A puppy dress-up game and dog walking simulator.
Little Friends: Puppy Island
Little Friends: Puppy Island is filled with more adorable puppies than you could ever dream of. Just don't let them dig too deep when searching for dog treats as there isn't much below the surface.
- Easy to follow gameplay.
- Cute puppies.
- A relaxing experience.
- Gameplay loop is repetitive and loses its charm quickly.
- Island progression seems to have no impact on attracting people to the island.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.