Let me preface this by saying that I am about to review a game that is neither new nor terribly popular. If you're not interested, you can stop reading now and just go surf on over to somewhere that is not here. If you're still with me, however, read on!
Recently the super-fabulous Gamefly.com sent "A Dog's Life" my way. The game came out in Sept of 04 apparently, but I don't recall hearing about it then... I doubt it got a ton of press... Anyway, recent developments considered, I figured it was about time I gave it a try. Long story short: I am kinda glad I did, but I am also glad I rented instead of buying it. (That doesn't make for much of a review, now does it?)
So... you want details. I can't imagine why you would still be reading if you didn't... Ok. I am eager to please. The game is very obviously geared toward the pre-adolescent boy market, so there's a lot of what I like to call "potty humor" in there. In fact, it opens with a fart joke. Not an auspicious start if you ask me. From there, however, it only can get better. And it does! Kinda...
The plot is fairly simple: you are a dog, and you are trying to earn yourself some bones and get yourself in shape so you can go rescue your doggy-girlfriend Daisy who has been dognapped by a suspiciously Horace-and-Jasper-esque pair.
The coolest feature is "smell-o-vision" -- where you see the world through a dog's eyes (or would that be nose?). In this mode, everything goes black and white except colored plumes of gas that represent various smells. You collect these smells to unlock mini-games and doggy-friends, and to follow the scents of other characters you come across.
The whole game is very non-linear, to the extent that it is often difficult to figure out where you should go next. I think I have personally missed a few levels because I made a wrong turn at a fork in the road. A little direction might be nice... but at least it gives you lots of options and you get to explore at your own pace.
In each area there is a new dog to meet. Once you have collected enough scents, you can challenge this fellow canine to a few games (of his or her choosing!) and if you beat them, your new pal will teach you tricks to be used in future levels. Some of the games are easier than others, but persistance is always the key. Not really a lot of thought required. As mentioned, this is definately a game geared toward the kiddies...
I guess I would say that this is a good game to pick up and try if you're looking for a short diversion, and if your expectations are low, you will likely enjoy yourself. Just don't go in looking for a real challenge, or a real game for that matter, because this one really misses the mark.