Developer: Missing Pixel Studios
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

The virtual pet craze that began in the 90s with Tamagotchi continues to this day with stuff like Nintendogs, Horsez, and now, Pixel Buddy. In a surprising way, this game reveals just how far the genre has come. Unfortunately, that’s due to its own relative lack of progress.

All players have to do in Pixel Buddy is make sure their little, nondescript cartoon character stays happy and healthy. Caretakers are given an initial budget to buy food, toys, and whatever else their buddy needs. While extra cash isn’t free, players can at least trash old items to get partial returns on their investments. Players will want that money back too because messing around with the different items and their effect on the buddy is really the bulk of the game. Dressers can change its colors, teleporters zap it around the room, and some items, like land mines, even risk killing it. The game also promises that soon players will be able to suggest new items, a clever social gimmick.

However, it soon becomes obvious just how little there is to do in Pixel Buddy. Buddies can’t be taught tricks or entered into competitions like in other, more robust pet simulators. The items, while fun and varied, lose much of their appeal after the first use and ultimately the game devolves into seeing how long a buddy will survive. Granted, this was pretty much how simple all virtual pets used to be but playing this now just shows how far we’ve come. The only things Pixel Buddy has over Tamagotchi are micro-transactions, a friendly, colorful, children’s book art style, and a nice low price of $0.

Virtual pets are great for people that can’t or won’t take responsible care of a real one. Still, even fake pets should feel more alive than Pixel Buddy.

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