Furiends (iOS)

Take care of a lovable pup in Furiends, a free-to-play game for iOS devices (reviewed on iPad here).  Furiends is an AR game, and AR stands for Augmented Reality.  What this means is that the game uses the camera on your mobile device and places objects over the image so it looks like they are in your space in the real world.  The most popular example of this is probably Pokémon GO, but there lots of other games that use this, too.  In Furiends, they make it look like a puppy is walking around where you’re at.  You get a breed at random, I think.  I got a German Shepherd and I named it Rush.  It looks pretty realistic except for the ‘too-much coffee’ eyes.  Then you get to play and take care of your new virtual pet in lots of ways.

Sift through items in a menu to feed, walk, and play with your pet.  Before you get started, though, you must have the camera on, and it’ll have to scan a fairly empty spot on the ground for your pup to walk around in.  Once that’s done, the dog will appear and you can start playing.  Click on the backpack icon to tap on items to feed, water, and bathe your pet.  You can also flick the screen to throw a ball to play fetch.  Select tricks and speak into the microphone to have your dog sit, roll over, and more.  You can also dress up your dog in gear like clothes and collars.  Click on the leash icon to take your dog for a walk, and then move around in real time to count steps.  Just don’t forget to tap the screen to pick up poop!  If this sounds a lot like Nintendogs, it pretty much is.  Except you can’t use the touch screen to pet your dog, so it loses that level of interactivity.

Each day are set goals for you to accomplish with your pet.  It may be to feed or play with your dog, or take it for a certain number of steps in a walk.  When you do, you’ll earn coins and stars which you can use to buy food, treats, clothes, and more.  I couldn’t find a place where you could get different breeds of dogs, so I don’t know if that’s available.  You can take pictures of your dog and share them on social media, though.

There are a few problems with this game, however.  Some minor and some major.  Minor ones include a lack of any sounds, heck your dog barely barks.  Some of the goals seem impossible to reach, like the number of steps you have to take while walking can be a lot.  But the biggest problems are bugs with the AR camera and controls.  Sometimes while feeding or playing fetch, I couldn’t get the ball or food to go where I wanted it, and had to reset the game so the dog would be right in front of me.  And many times, especially after a walk, I’d lose the dog entirely.  It was all just too frustrating for me to fully enjoy.

Kid Factor:

Nothing violent or objectionable here, other than a few poop graphics.  I guess this would be a good teaching tool for kids on pet responsibility, but parental supervision is recommended for the in-game purchases and ads.  Also, kids would need to be aware of their surrounding when taking their dog for a walk, instead of just looking at the phone the whole time.  Reading skill is also helpful.

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