Being married to a veterinarian and having two young girls fascinated by animals of all types, I decided to check out Legacy Interactive's Pet Pals: New Leash on Life a couple of months ago. Aimed squarely at the teenage crowd looking to become vets themselves, I thought the game was more than a little tedious. My daughters on the other hand were fascinated and wanted to play.
When you start out, you are a new veterinarian at the Pet Pals Animal Shelter. The goal is to work through 35 different cases based on real animal cases and nurse the critters back to health. Everything from rabbits and kitties to rabbits and iguanas. Strictly small animals here, which seems more accessible for those with animals at home.
What is immediately apparent is the level of detail in this game. I worked a few nights as an "emergency vet tech" with my wife and have to admit that I think they made this game about as real as it can get. The tutorial walks you through a checkup for a stray kitten and you have to check its ears, draw blood, and so on.
The graphics are simplified, but work in the context of a virtual veterinarian's office for kids. Unfortunately, the gameplay gets very boring and repetitive quickly.
Where the game really succeeds however is in providing practical knowledge of some of the tests and procedures that happen at your local vet or animal shelter. At the end of a case, you've made sure that the pet is healthy and has a new home. You just have to hope you don't get buried in the details as you work through each case…
If you're looking for a taste of what it's like to be a real vet, minus the blood and other bodily excretions, I think this is probably a great introduction. It removes the fantasy of being a small animal vet and adds some reality back into the mix. I would caution parents not to let their children base their career choices totally on this game, but it's a great way to see how interested they actually are. After the game, and once they're old enough, have them volunteer in the local animal shelter or at a local vet clinic to get some hands-on experience.
Though I didn't really enjoy the game, my daughters did and I can appreciate the care and work that went into it. If you have a pre-teen or teen child interested in becoming a veterinarian or one who wants to learn more about pet care, Pet Pals: New Leash on Life provides a great introduction to those topics.
Pet Pals: New Leash on Life is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Blood and Tobacco References.