PHOGS! (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Stadia, PC)

Does anyone remember the Nickelodeon cartoon CatDog?  I was a little too old for it myself when it was on TV, but my brothers liked it.  Anyway, it was a show about a creature with a talking cat head on one end and a talking dog on the other, and how they got along together despite being attached to each other inseparably.  It was pretty weird.  Well if they were ever to make a video game version of that show, PHOGS! would be about the closest thing to it!  In PHOGS!, you play as a weenie dog with two dog heads on each end.  So instead of a CatDog, it’s a DogDog.  One or two players control each head separately as you wriggle around obstacle filled 3-D worlds, solving puzzles in areas based on three things dogs like to do most: sleep, eat, and play!  The game is available on most current consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

You’ll control each head with the left and right analog sticks if you play in single player.  Two players will have control over one head each.  If you press the L or R shoulder buttons, that particular dog’s head will bark.  But if you are near something that they can grab, they will bite that item instead and hold onto it.  You can grab onto stakes if you need something stable to hold onto in windy stages, or carry around items you might need.  Hold down the L or R trigger buttons to make your PHOG stretch out, kind of like Noby Noby Boy, if you need some extra reach.  And that’s pretty much all you need to know to play!

You’ll explore three main worlds with about six levels each.  These worlds are themed after three things dogs like to do: sleep, eat, and play.  The Sleep world is full of teddy bears and comfy looking beds, and you must solve puzzles involving light and darkness, as well as carrying around alarm clocks to wake things up.  The Play world is full of fun and games with a beach carnival and pirate themed mini golf.  And the Food world is filled with edibles and bouncy veggies.  Most worlds offer a new gameplay element for you to master and feature new items for you to discover.  For instance, pick up a glowing light and the dog head on the other end will shine a light from its mouth, which helps you dissolve dark shadow blocks.  Or if you bite down on one end of a water spout, the other dog head will spray water, handy for growing vegetables!  Hidden in every level are golden dog bones, use them to buy hats in shops for your abomination to wear.  There are also hidden rocket things to find, but I don’t know what they do.

PHOGS! has some problems here and there.  I’m not a big fan of games that make the controls hard to artificially introduce challenge, which is what this game does.  But once you do get the hang of the controls, it’s not so bad.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell which head you need to control, even though they do distinguish them with a red and blue collar, or whatever hats you have them wear.  And sometimes your critter can get stuck in the scenery.  Luckily there is a respawn button in case that happens, but I hate it when developers opt for that instead of making the game less buggy.  But despite these problems, I still really liked this game!  Probably one of the best indie games I’ve played in a while.  It’s definitely weird. For instance, similar to Mario’s pipes, you warp from place to place using giant two-headed yawning worms that swallow you!  And the simple yet colorful graphics give it a Katamari Damacy style, too.  If you like weird games that are reminiscent of late 90’s 3-D games, you’ll want to check this one out!

Kid Factor:

PHOGS! is rated E for Everyone with ESRB descriptors of Comic Mischief and Mild Fantasy Violence.  Not really sure what’s violent in this game, you can fall off ledges but immediately appear nearby before you fell, but that’s really it.  Reading skill isn’t needed just to play, but younger gamers may need help with some of the tougher puzzles and obstacles.

One Response to “PHOGS! (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Stadia, PC)”

  1. It does remind one of CatDog, but I really thought it’d be POGS.

    I don’t like games with intentionally hard control schemes either, though. It’s a novelty that never really appealed to me. But I do like CatDog … or I did, I think? I don’t remember it that well.

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