Developer: Tactile Entertainment
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Reviewed on: iPod Touch

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

I’ll be honest: I love pet sims. There’s something wickedly charming about raising virtual creatures, and then being left to do with them what you will…whether that’s raising happy, healthy beasts or tormenting your pets mercilessly. Pocket Creatures is a pet simulator from Tactile Entertainment, and I have to admit that it taps that primal love for raising and tormenting cute little critters. It’s very sandbox-style and undirected, but what’s here is nevertheless a lot of fun.

You begin your Pocket Creatures hatching your creature, choosing its color, and naming it. Then, you venture out into the open world. Your creature is a lively thing with plenty of personality, and you can stroke it, poke it, or slap it to see how it reacts. An image appears over your pet’s head based on its mood, and swiping from the mood bubble to another object activates a special ability. Happy pets get a rainbow that can “heal” items, for example, while angry pets zap their surrounding with lightning.

On the island, you can have your pet zap anteaters with lightning to make anteater meat, or use a platypus’s bill to dig a hole to plant seeds or find treasure. How you interact with the animals determines your pet’s opinion of them; continuously zap a woodpecker and your pet will come to devilishly hate the bird. You can thus adjust your pet’s opinion of animals and even fruits. Most of the island’s activities revolve around planting and growing fruits. This “farming” will either give you a simple food plant, or a tree that grows creature-altering fruits such as the shrink-ray item. (There’s even a plant that turns you into a tiger, I hear.)

Other than farming, you can try to unlock the myriad achievements, which in turn can yield new accessories and outfits for your pet—anything from devil horns to viking hats—and of course you must tend to your pet’s needs such as sleep and hunger. But for the most part, the game lacks direction; new items are introduced slowly and there are very few activities. My other complaint lies with the gestures—the game sometimes misinterprets a slash versus a touch, and the controls are a bit imprecise.

Overall, though, Pocket Creatures is a hugely amusing pet simulation with a quirky, energetic main character. While I would like to see additional content, it’s nevertheless a lot of fun to explore the small island and torment its denizens with the help of your creature. Pet lovers should quickly come to adore the magical, bizarre star of Pocket Creatures.

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