In 2016 it took Twitter by storm. Now, it’s set its sights on the mobile gaming market with GOOD DOGS.
And it is surprisingly good.
Welcome to Boter Reviews Something, where I start writing, get distracted by my dogs at home, so try to write on my lunch break at work but get distracted by dogs there. But hey, dogs! Where was I? Oh yes. Good Dogs, a mobile game for iOS and Android.
@dog_rates on Twitter has amassed a following over over one and a quarter million users. A few times a day, the account posts a picture of a cute pooch and grants it a satirical (sorry, professional and highly scientific) rating: “This is Pilot. He has mastered the synchronized head tilt and sneaky tongue slip. Usually not unlocked until later doggo days. 12/10” Cute dog pictures with a simple and fun caption on my Twitter feed every day? H*ck yeah, sign me up.
But I was skeptical when, last week, they announced their new mobile game, Good Dogs. Aside from cute dogs, what’s the appeal? Alright, okay, that sounded less obvious in my head when I said it. But what could make it a cute game while still feeling like it was part of the Twitter account’s brand?
So I downloaded the game and tried it out. I enjoyed it for a few minutes, then put it away. Then, later, I pulled it out again. And again. Soon it overtook any other gaming I was doing on my phone. Wow; this one’s serious.
In the game, you take your dog avatar and run through a park. Each month a new park is promised; the current debut park is Hipster Park, with joggers and cyclists to dodge, logs and rivers to jump, and picnic tables to… no, okay, dodge, no jumping over those unfortunately. The trial and error needed for that isn’t a bother at all because at the start your runs will be short, and it costs nothing to make a run. There’s no energy or lives mechanic to limit the number of times you can play – you can just sit there, running your dog for hours.
Slide your finger back and forth to turn the dog left and right. Hold down your finger to charge the rainbow at the top of the screen; when it’s full, you can jump. That’s it for mechanics. Keep running for as long as you can, dodging or jumping obstacles as they come, and collect bones lying on the ground. Get bone-us bones for jumping obstacles. I’m going to date myself here, but the basic idea of running as far as you can, avoiding obstacles, and collecting bones reminds me a bit of the Helicopter Game; younger readers will identify more with Flappy Bird.
The tone of the game matches the Twitter account quite well. It has a bright and colorful low-poly visual design and the music is simple but addictive. Additionally, While running you’ll occasionally be rated on your performance (“Who’s a good collector? 11/10”) and at the end be rated on your run (“Dispupointing 2/10 would definitely still pet tho”) as if by the Twitter account itself. The accompanying icon is a rendition of the account’s photo in the game’s low-poly design language.
As you run, your dog will level up. Turn speed and jump charge both get quicker the more distance you’ve run with a particular dog. Dave the Beagle is unlocked at the start; other doggos are unlocked by opening Mystery Crates (each costing 100 of your collected bones at the end of a run) or with cash. Leveling up can get you more dog colors, as can opening Mystery Crates. You can also get things like hats! I think Arthur the Corgicool looks adorable in a fedora. Fedorable as it were.
Occasionally, you’ll be given the option to watch an ad. There’s no banners that get in the way, but if you watch a 30 second ad, you can resume your run from where you left off, or get a x5 bone multiplier before a run. It’s not random either; I won’t watch an ad for a x2, but if I see a x5, h*ck yes I’ll watch the ad. Maybe even another one, or pay 50 bones, at the end to keep the run going.
My one criticism of the game is in its controls. Slide left and right to turn left and right, hold to jump; sounds good but in practice it means you’re holding your finger on the screen the whole time to keep jump charged. So you slide left some, then the dog straightens itself out, but farther to the left. Then you need to dodge left again… and though the pupper has room to go, you’ve run out of screen. I keep having to waste my jump to re-place my finger on the screen. The game would be much more friendly to play with a virtual joystick, where the dog will keep running in a direction until you pull your finger back to the center. Specify a center point or have it automatically go where you place your finger, either way would work. (My preference is the latter, but whatever you gotta do.)
The control issue is pretty h*cking crippling, unfortunately. Past that it’s a great game with an adorable aesthetic and a smooth gameplay cycle. Get a virtual joystick on there and we’ll have a more scientific 12/10 rating; as it is, it’s still a lot of fun.
Platform: iOS, Android (tested)
Price: Free (ad / microtransaction supported)
Developer: Fourthwall Games
Publisher: We Rate Dogs LLC
Release Date: February 2017