Game Review: Aabs Animals (PS Vita)

Game Review

Aabs Animals is a unique augmented reality (AR) animal friendly game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. The game is designed in the hope of encouraging people to love and respect animals in the real world just as much as they would in the game.

A percentage of the sales have been donated to the Headquarters for the Relief of Animals in Emergencies since the initial Japanese launch on December 11th 2012 up until March 2013 with the donations from then onwards now being given to the Headquarters for the Relief of Animals in Fukushima, Japan. The initial donation was 1% of each sale, which has since increased with further sales to 2% of each sale as the concept is that more sales of Aabs Animals will result in a higher percentage of donations per sale with Aabs Inc’s ultimate ambition to spread their donation worldwide across various animal relief funds when the situation in Fukushima has settled. It is a rather realistic ambition as Aabs Animals launched in America on July 9th 2013 and has now launched throughout Europe on September 11th 2013 introducing two entirely new audiences to the game. The concept of the donations is a very sound one as if you like animals, then you are purchasing your own AR animal simulation and simultaneously donating to a well respected animal protection charity.

The animals available for selection are currently limited to only kittens, although more animals are planned for release in the future with further updates. There are currently five types of kitten available with different features, such as colours, patterns, ears and tails, alongside each kitten having varying moods, such as playful moods and sleepy moods, which also creates different interactions from the kittens when you stroke them and provides an overall total of twenty different varieties of kitten.

You can take photos of the animal of your choice striking a pose as they play or sleep, while it is placed upon the background of your choosing as the rear camera captures your surroundings, such as your home; a garden; a park; an historical monument or landmark; or anything else that you have in mind as you can be as creative as you want to be with the backgrounds of your pictures. The photos of the animal can be saved to the screenshot folder of the Vita’s photos feature and can be viewed at anytime from there as individual pictures or a slideshow.

The controls are well mapped and utilise a wide range of the Vita’s technology to provide multiple control configurations. The face button controls consist of pressing L to reset the location of the animal; R to reset the rotation of the animal; up or down on the d-pad to change the size of the animal; left or right on the d-pad to reset the size of the animal; manoeuvre the left analogue stick to move the location of the animal; manoeuvre the right analogue stick to rotate the animal; pressing the PS button and the start button simultaneously to take a photo of your animal on whatever background you are capturing via the camera; and start or select to switch between gameplay and the animal selection screen. The touch screen controls consist of pinching two fingers inwards or outwards to change the size of the animal; pinch and rotate the touch screen to rotate the animal; tapping to change the animal’s action; and dragging your finger along the touch screen to stroke the animal. The gyroscopic controls of the Vita allow you to tilt the camera angle and adjust the background to anything you wish to position your animal in front of.

The graphics are mostly based upon augmented reality (AR) as the animal of your choice is positioned upon your surroundings as they are captured by the rear camera. The graphics of the animals are quite realistic with hairs, eyes and colours being real standouts in graphical quality. The animal animations are simulations of what you would expect to see from the movement of an animal with sleepy curls; smiling when being stroked; walking; leaping; movement of the tail; and much more besides.

The presentation of the game is rather simplistic in the sense that it only really revolves around a single menu for the animal selection menu with navigation based upon a purely touch screen based user interface. The background of the animal selection menu is a mixture of light yellow and white with tiny pink animal paws scattered around areas of the screen. There is no options menu, but you will find a helpful and detailed guide to the control configurations provided from pages fourteen to twenty of the in-game manual.

The audio is rather simplistic and consists of soft and gentle melodious music that creates a relaxing atmosphere with sound effects from the animals, such as kittens meowing and purring as you interact with them, which helps to establish whether they have a playful or sleepy mood at that given time.

The trophy list includes five trophies with one bronze trophy, one silver trophy and three gold trophies. The trophy list for Aabs Animals is simply the easiest trophy list in history and will have anyone that thought that .detuned, Linger in Shadows or Terminator Salvation were easy trophy lists in absolute shock! The trophies all revolve around how long you have been playing the game for, such as the Kawaii bronze trophy for playing the game for 15 seconds; the Charming silver trophy for playing the game for 45 seconds; the Cute gold trophy for playing the game for 135 seconds; the Lovely gold trophy for playing the game for 225 seconds; and the Pretty gold trophy for playing the game for 315 seconds. Aabs Animals only requires you to start up the game; choose your type of kitten and interact with the kitten or wait for five minutes and fifteen seconds in order to 100% the trophy list, so you are guaranteed to have earned all of the five trophies within six minutes of having started the game.

The replayability of Aabs Animals lasts for as long as you want it to in the sense that if you buy this game; you most likely love animals and that interaction with the animals will not breakdown, especially with the promise of more animals to come in the future. It would have been good to have more activities, such as bathing, customisation and perhaps even an element of adventurous exploration, challenge or competition via pet pageants to further the replayability of the game in more of a diverse approach. I am quite surprised that there are no sharing features for any of the pictures you have taken of your animal as it would certainly be the perfect feature for a game of Aabs Animals’ nature to be able to share your pictures on Facebook and Twitter. Hopefully, at least some of these features will be introduced via future updates, along with the already promised additional animals to mature the content of the existing game.

Overall, Aabs Animals provides a great AR based animal friendly game at an affordable price at just £3.99 in which it must be said that if you are a fan of Tamagotchi games or like to look after pets or animals, then Aabs Animals is definitely for you. If that was not enough to make you want to purchase Aabs Animals; then the feel good factor of donating at least 2% of each purchase and helping to increase the percentage of donations to the Headquarters for the Relief of Animals in Fukushima, Japan should be enough to make you want to purchase the game.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Aabs Animals
  • Publisher: Aabs Inc
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 55Mb
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