Simulation games have been around for years on Facebook, but they continue to get more diverse, with themed versions coming out for building cities, bakeries, wineries, various types of farms (*cough*) and more. Now there’s one for the pet lovers: Playdom and pet food company Purina have quietly launched a new Facebook title, Pet Resort.
Pet Resort is certainly a cute looking game, and one likely to appeal to cat and dog lovers of all types. As sim-style game, it doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the table, but merely takes a successful design model and applies it to a new aesthetic. It’s certainly not a bad thing, as the game only comes with a few minor usability complaints — but if you’re looking for something groundbreaking, it’s not here.
Set in a fancy town, players are tasked with the construction of the perfect pet resort, as managed by themselves and their pet cat or dog. Like other sim games, players must manage the needs of their “customers” (pets) in order to earn coin and attract more. This is handled by four different types of “stations,” consisting of food and drink, bath, play, and health. As various cats and dogs enter the resort, they will have thought bubbles representing what they want, and should the station be available, they will visit it.
This is where the standard rating of popularity comes into play. Should you have the station the animals are looking for, they will interact with it, earning a fraction of popularity and a small sum of money. Oddly enough, if you don’t have the station needed, nothing negative appears to happen. You just make less money.
Actually, this happens quite a bit as players can only have so many stations at any given time – depending on their level. Also, cats and the dogs prefer different items. For example, if there is a playpen station, it can be stocked with a squeaky toy for dogs or a scratching post for cats. This becomes more complex as the player level’s up and the various animals have more requirements (e.g. health and bath do not open up until levels 11 and 28 respectively).
To add an extra level of management, each station must have a full stock of whatever supplies it requires. This is where Purina makes its appearance. Using food as the example, each purchase made will take a set amount of time to arrive and cost in-game currency. The longer it takes to arrive (minutes to hours) and the more it costs, the more servings it will serve. However, many of the objects are Purina brand food goods such as Purina Fancy Feast and Dog Chow or toys like Tuff Tugger or the Kitty Treat Ball.
One can imagine this game serving as a conduit for sales of Purina products, like earning a coupon for Dog Chow if you reach a high-enough level.
Beyond all of this, the only other major elements to the game are décor and “VIP Pets” that periodically visit. The décor is purely aesthetic, while the VIP pets give you extra popularity if you pet them. They do have a heart meter that fills up as they are pet and the more full it is, the longer they will wait for an open station.
This is actually one of the social features as well. When players begin the game, they pick a pet to keep for themselves, and as friends join and play, their pets become VIP pets as well. In addition to this, players can also visit each others’ resorts. However, rather than generic “help them out” prompts, users can not only pet up to three pets for extra experience but click on décor within their resort and purchase it for 10% off. Additionally, the player it was bought from will earn 10%. Also, on a more minor note, visiting a friend also prompts a Bonus Wheel that can reward varying amounts of experience or coin.
As far as complaints go, the only real issues are minor. The biggest annoyance was trying to figure out how to move and rotate objects in the virtual space. There is no clear edit button, nor can it be done from the store (like most other sim games – yes, there have been so many sims that this is an expectation). As it turns out, it’s all done from the inventory page. Moreover, rotation is a minor complaint as when an object is rotated, the game picks the object back up. It’s not a huge deal, but it does make the player do a little double take and wondering if it worked. With no feedback sound, it looking like it’s being moved, and the relative silhouette of the items looking the same on all sides, it’s not immediately noticeable.
Regardless, all such complaints are very minor in the long run. Overall, Pet Resort is a pretty fun game for sim lovers. True, it isn’t going to change the face of gaming as we know it, but it’s a nice new premise for an older genre. It looks goods, plays well, and is, overall, what we’ve come to expect from Playdom. As for the Purina involvement, the game is fun enough to possibly generate a good deal of marketing for them, and if it does, it will be interesting to see how many more major companies follow similar paths in the future.