There was the cops & robbers stage. There was the football cards stage. And then there was Nintendogs.
Suddenly the computer lay abandoned. The shrieks of my Rollercoaster Tycoon customers faded away to the sound of joyful barks and the dulcet tones of puppy event commentators Ted and Archie.
I got the Labrador version one Christmas; my best friend had the Dalmatian. We’d do meet ups and try to work out how to get new breeds. I couldn’t bear to rehome any of my puppies any of my puppies in the Dog Hotel or, God forbid, to rehome any, so I always had the limit of 3: a Labrador, a Husky and a Schnauzer.
I feel in love with a real-life Shetland Sheepdog when I was 10, and was really disappointed when I unlocked the virtual breed because it looked nothing like an actual Sheltie (but got a real one, four parent-nagging years later.)
Between 2005 and 2009, nearly 22 million copies of Nintendogs were sold. That was more than any of the Mario games, Brain Age or Animal Crossing (another favourite of mine: shake those trees, run away from the bees!). Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s CEO for the glory period of the Wii and DS, passed away last July. He will always be remembered as an industry-leading creative force who identified new target audiences of families, the elderly and children.
As I grew up, realised the weaknesses of the game and left it alone for longer periods of time, I’d come back to find my beautiful furbabies dirty and hungry. I felt awful, lavished them with love and attention, and promptly forgot about them again. I dug the console out one time when I was home from University but it was dead. I kept it and the little green game disc, and think from time to time about the alternate world where dogs are forever puppies.