Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Your reaction to VPET Planets greatly depends on how much reverence you have for virtual pets. But with 90s nostalgia in vogue right now that might actually be a selling point. Still, although it is a neat recreation of a cheap kid’s pocket gadget for your shiny, expensive smartphone, there’s a reason why this genre never became more than just a fad.
VPET Planets does everything it can to press your Tamagotchi (or Digimon) buttons. Choose your digital creature and take care of it like it’s your own tiny cyber child. Name it, feed it, keep its habitat tidy, give it medicine, and train it to become stronger. Taking a cue from Pokémon, which could arguably be seen as the inheritor to the virtual pets craze, you can also evolve your pet into various new fearsome shapes and battle other players online or through Bluetooth. Players have to wait hours and days for many of these changes to take effect, but that real time aspect is part of the appeal. Plus, mobile gamers are used to lots of timers anyway, so in that respect maybe virtual pets were ahead of their time.
But by adhering so closely to the self-consciously dated formula, VPET Planets also carries over a bunch of expected weaknesses. The amount of things you can do with your pet are so limited at some point it becomes more interesting to simply ignore its needs and watch what happens as it slowly dies. It’s the old-fashioned pet-to-sadism pipeline for kids. Players can manage multiple pets at once, but the purposefully crude art style with its monochrome faux screen, basic animations, and gigantic pixels severely limits the visual variety.
It’s easy to get a kick out of VPET Planets and its blast from the tech past. For that reason alone it’s worth messing around with. However, it’s got as much staying power as the fleeting craze it apes too successfully. And unfortunately, unlike real virtual pet, you won’t be able to sell this one at a yard sale one you inevitably tire of it.