- Kinect Required
- Publisher: THQ
- Developer: Blitz Games
- ESRB Rating: "E" for Everyone
- Genre: Pet Raising Sim
- Pros: Super cute animals; augmented reality aspect is neat; decent graphics and sound; lots of content; Kinect controls mostly fine ...
- Cons: ... except when they stop working for no reason
The premise behind Fantastic Pets is that your crazy Uncle has a collection of animals and needs you to take care of them while he jets around the world to do research. You start out by choosing one pet to look after, but eventually get more. There are cats, dogs, ponies, and lizards as well as "fantastic" variations such as dragons and unicorns. A nice touch is that you can customize your animals in a ton of ways to change the patterns of their fur / skin, change colors, eye color and shape, body size, and even give them horns and wings and more. You can also change their attitude anywhere from cute and cuddly all the way up to rather wild and unpredictable. I started out with a cute little Siamese kitten, and within 30 minutes turned it into a lazy, fat, purple and yellow thing with red eyes that would horrify my Mom (she loves Siamese cats). Good times.
This is a great feature because it means the game doesn't have to be as disgustingly cute as the box art leads you to believe. You can make your pets as cute and sweet or as tough and mean looking as you want, which means both boys and girls will both like it. As you play the game you unlock new customization options, so it is a pretty rewarding and worthwhile experience.
Most of the gameplay takes place in designated areas of the game world, but in between the minigames and baths and feeding time, the game takes on a sort of augmented reality angle that uses Kinect's camera to display you and the room you're playing in onscreen and makes it look like your pet is playing and running around or flying around your own house. It is very cool and makes you feel that much more connected to your virtual pet since they really look like they're in your house.
The animals are all very cute and playing with them is really quite fun. They aren't as expressive or have the personality of the cats in Kinectimals, but they are still fun to watch. Some of the events and minigames seem to go on for a bit too long, though. Giving your pet a bath or feeding it are both multiple step, somewhat boring processes that could be streamlined a bit.
These problems all happened within the first hour of playing the game and continued to occur as we played. The only way to fix them was to pick up an Xbox 360 controller, access the Kinect Tuner, and then cancel back to the game and it fixed itself. I like to think I have a pretty optimal Kinect setup, and tested other games after playing Fantastic Pets just to make sure it wasn't my hardware or setup that was causing the issue, and every other game worked fine. The game is fun when it works, but these glitches and issues sap the enjoyment out of it pretty quickly. Depending on how much patience you have and whether you can put up with the issues, it can be enjoyable.
Visually, Fantastic Pets is a nice looking game. The game world is nice and sharp and clean, and the pets are very cute. They are sort of exaggerated and cartoonish looking, but that is definitely part of the charm. They are well animated and fun to watch. The effect of having your pet running around your real house onscreen is also well done.
The sound is also pretty good. The animals all sound like they should, and make the funniest little grunts and growls and meows. The voice work for the computer at the house that helps you out as well as the voice of your Uncle are pretty well done as well.
Fantastic Pets is just a few glitches away from being one of the better Kinect games. It offers tons of stuff to do, is customizable so it can have a wide appeal to both genders and all ages, and looks and sounds pretty nice overall. We repeatedly ran into glitches, though, where Kinect stopped reacting to us. We do still like it quite a bit despite the problems, but with those problems it is hard to recommend it for more than a rental. If you liked Kinectimals and / or you have kids, Fantastic Pets is worth playing.