Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Pet Pals: New Leash on Life

Pet Pals: New Leash on Life

Spring 2009 Software
Ages: 8 & Up
Price: $19.99
This realistic veterinary simulation proves case after case that caring for sick and injured animals isn't so easy. But the more your would-be vet plays, and learns, the easier and more fulfilling this game gets.

Players start out as the new vet at an animal shelter and, with the help of the head vet and eager technicians, quickly begin examining furry and feathery patients with all sorts of symptoms.

First up is "Sunshine," a sweet but too-skinny stray cat that's scratching her ears. After finding her heart, lungs and body temperature normal, we use the otoscope to check her ears. They're inflamed with ear mites. And the stool sample found tape worms. Treatment: A topical medication for her ears, an oral dose for the tape worms and, for good measure, updated vaccinations.

The game's vivid graphics and nice animation make it easy to empathize with the animals, and the logic, problem-solving and strategizing required to diagnose and treat them is thought-provoking. But this videogame isn't just smart, it's fun and compelling. Patients vary from dogs, cats and macaws to Iguanas, chinchillas and Dutch rabbits. Players learn actual standard veterinary procedure: Identify symptoms (by asking technicians about behavior and background), examine the animal, check vital signs, take tests appropriate to symptoms, diagnose the problems and treat the patient. Typically treatment means medication. Occasionally a case requires surgery.

The tutorial gets players started on the right foot and acquainted with the many tools of the veterinarian trade-from magnifying glass, palpitation glove and stethoscope to syringes, x-rays and EKG monitor.

Additional features, accessible from a virtual office, bolster the game's content with a challenging animal trivia game, close-up photos and info on the species to be treated, a detailed briefing on veterinary tools, a vet glossary, animal-care career opportunities, and a word-search game and jigsaw puzzle. This game also adds "enrichment" chores--training, grooming and playing with the animals to prepare them for adoption.

Pet Pals: New Leash on Life is an entertainingly educational game that any child who loves animals will enjoy. And a portion of its reasonable price goes to The Humane Society of the United States.

Don Oldenburg   ©2009 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Legacy Interactive
Online Retailers

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