Based on the Japanese game, Dog Island: Hitotsu no Hana no Monogatari (Dog Island: The Tale of The One Flower, released in April 2007), Dog Island isn’t only for dog lovers or kids. Players of all ages can enjoy the fun. Getting started is easy and the exploration elements work well. As expected, the cute (yes, cute) story focuses on tasks and helpful activities instead of survival of the fittest through battle royales. Players choose from a wide variety of breeds, then a few colors to customize their dog, clothing and related accessories.
Your main objective is to help your sick sibling dog, which requires you to depart the island by ship. Of course, you must complete some missions before leaving, which limits some player freedom within the game. The task list format doesn’t change much for a dog’s life. Go fetch items, return them, and get rewarded.
Your main ability for finding said items is sniffing for them through a special meter. Some beginning tasks like finding a basket can be difficult for younger players. They’ll also need some help with the dialogue subtitles, which can get a little long but are somewhat limited because…well, dogs bark and don’t talk.
The biggest learning curve is using the camera with the arrow pad on the Wiimote (no need for the nunchuck here, though it might have helped). Players can also access the map with the 2 button, which may be awkward for little hands. Additional environmental sounds and animation effects could’ve increased the exploration experience.
The game does have some challenging enemies who make their intentions well known. Potential adversaries have four modes: peaceful, arresting, dangerous and knocked out. You will also get some other animals to raise the excitement/challenge (depending on your situation). Be careful though; if you try to fight off all challengers and your strength is depleted to zero, you lose all items you’re carrying. Be sure to store them, including food and flowers, in a treasure chest at your house or at the inn.
The game has decent replayability with mini-games such as races or soccer. The outstanding production values include the beginning song (the lyrics might puzzle some, but my three year old played it over and over – just don‘t hit any buttons and it will repeat) and top notch graphics, as do the occasional puzzles and games including fishing, insect collecting, and sled pulls. An enjoyable, all ages title that would make a solid addition to your Wii game library.
Dog Island is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for comic mischief. This game can also be found on PS2.