I am sure that for every single animal out there someone is simply dying to attempt to train it to become the world’s greatest source of friendship and afterschool entertainment. I too have longed to spend my quiet hours with a hairy nosed wombat that I have poorly trained to do the most mundane tricks imaginable; my knowledge of how highly endangered these amazing creatures are is the only thing that stops me from simply jumping on a plane to Australia, taking the long bus ride to Queensland, trekking illegally into Epping Forest National Park, and then capturing one of the 30 remaining breeding stock of females. Thankfully I don’t have to worry any more as my dreams have come to fruition with the 101 animal series; I can finally own, poorly train, mockingly dress, and force a creature of my choosing (depending on the title) into demoralizing competitions with others of its captured ilk.
This flavor of 101 Pets comes in Dolphin variety, allowing the captive sentient mammalian free rein of the pool behind what I am assuming is supposed to be the player’s ranch style house. While this raises certain questions about the priorities in the way of salt water tanks/pool and exotic creatures expenditures vs. living conditions, it also seems odd that there are pet stores in this world that are happy to sell me various Hawaiian shirts that are form fitting for a dolphin. I have never made that request of a clothier before, but I assume that the police would become involved if it was ever brought up. For some reason in my mind at the end of this scenario it ends with me drunkenly explaining why I also needed my dolphin to have UV protecting sunglasses. The answer, of course, is because he is awesome.
Amusingly hard to justify separation of disbelief aside, the parts of the game that are supposed to be a game never seemed to be that enjoyable. There are a series of mini-games that ask the player to use the touch screen to trace all the similar images for monetary rewards, the problem being that the touch screen is not responsive enough to trace anything let alone a heart less than the size of a dime. All of the games are explained, at great length, through walls of text—which I mostly skipped through because 11 pages is way too much tell me to avoid stars and collect coins while my dude swims. Look, I understand that I have trained Austin (as I have thus named him, after the best Power setting) so little that he could be considered functionally retarded even by animal standards, but I think placing him third in any event where he is the only person on a podium–and probably the only one that entered, is a little harsh.
101 Hawaiian Shirted Dolphins doesn’t fail because of its concept, if anything I would applaud it for allowing me to illegally own one of nature’s most aware beings and forcing it into a small and confined space to amuse me until I got my own afterschool special staring the living Corey. The developers dreamed big with this game, and aiming for the stars should always be commended even when you fail to leave the state and end in a landfill. I simply wanted to spend more time hanging out and high fiving my aqua friend then slowly grinding away at broken mini-games to award him with a sweet new skateboard or something.