Little Friends: Puppy Island Review
Screenshot via Siliconera

Review: Little Friends: Puppy Island Is Cozy, but Repetitive

For anyone looking to relive the Nintendogs fad of the mid-2000s, Little Friends: Puppy Island is your game. It’s a relaxing pet simulator game with a simple main gameplay loop and a handful of minigames sprinkled in. There’s not a lot of meat to the game, but you’re here to play with cute puppies first and not really anything second, which is exactly what you get. You get to have fun with puppies of all different breeds, and that’s all you need.

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The premise of Little Friends: Puppy Island is exactly what it sounds like: you’re on an island full of friendly, wild puppies. You and your puppy are there to house-sit for a friend, and you get to explore the island and befriend as many puppies as you can find while you’re there. With the puppies’ help, you can find new areas and develop the island. It’s all for the pups’ benefit, of course. It’s super barebones and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that’s not actually important. The game has a story of some kind and it’s cohesive enough, which is more than most anyone has ever wanted in a pet sim.

What makes up the bulk of the game is you picking one of your puppy friends and walking them around the island trail. When you’re on the trail, you can find new puppies and make friends with them, build things like a shop and a dog park, and over time, find new parts of the island to explore. After a while, your pup will get dirty or hungry or just need some love and you’ll have to go back to your friend’s house to care for them. That’s rather short-lived, though, as cleaning and feeding and everything you need to stay on the trail takes a very short time. It got fairly repetitive fairly quickly, which wasn’t great considering how it’s the vast majority of the game, but there were a few things to help break up the monotony.

One of the best parts of Little Friends: Puppy Island is the obstacles on the trail that you cross by completing little minigames. They pose little challenge and take all of about ten seconds to complete, but they keep you engaged and are plenty cute since they’re dog-themed. The type of minigame even changes depending on the type of obstacle, which is a nice way to keep things fresh.

Little Friends: Puppy Island Review Minigame

Screenshot via Siliconera

There are a few other minigame-type things to do on the trail. Befriending puppies involves finding them and then approaching them slowly, being careful not to spook them by moving too quickly. Every so often, there are wild animals like squirrels that you stop your pup from barking at by pressing the right button at the right time. Even development projects are fetch quests (heh), with you finding materials and bringing them to the build site. None of it is difficult by any means, but it gives you something to do.

When you do end up having to go back to your friend’s house, you get to another one of the most enjoyable parts of Little Friends: Puppy Island: getting to dress up your puppies. Dressing them up is some of the most fun to be had with the game since there are countless different pieces of clothing to choose from. It’s very easy to spend a lot of time going through all your options and giving each of your dogs the perfect outfit. Personally, putting shutter shades on one of my little buddies was one of the best decisions I’ve made ever. And since there are also plenty of dog breeds on the island, there are more options for which dog to dress up and how than you can shake a stick at.

Little Friends: Puppy Island Review Dress Up

Screenshot via Siliconera

You can also bathe, feed, and play with your pups, which is fairly neat because doing so actually affects the game. As your pups walk the trail, they’ll get dirty and hungry, as shown by their gauges. Bathing and feeding them solve those problems and let you get right back onto the trail. They’re not amazing activities that you want to have to do constantly, and I found that bathing requiring you to actually scrub the dogs was a little unnecessary when petting them is done the exact same way, but them being integrated into the overall system is nice.

Little Friends: Puppy Island Review Bath

Screenshot via Siliconera

Meanwhile, playing helps build some of your puppies’ stats. You’ll need higher stats to take on more trail obstacles, giving the game a feeling of progression. Most stats go up passively as you walk too, so there’s no grinding to be done, and the ones that don’t can be leveled up by playing some of the minigames like stopping your puppy from barking. Heck, even petting them builds stats, because what is a pet sim if you can’t pet your little buddies?

As a whole, Little Friends: Puppy Island is cozy and enjoyable, but it’s not really a game that felt like it could be played for an extended period of time. It is very much a cozy, relax-and-unwind kind of game, or a game meant for younger kids who want to do all the things with all the puppies. I didn’t particularly dislike any part of it, but it didn’t take long to feel like it was getting repetitive. Playing for anything more than about 45 minutes to an hour almost made me think I was getting déjà vu. But, well, it’s definitely a comfy game that anyone looking for some downtime can enjoy in short spurts.

Little Friends: Puppy Island is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.

Little Friends: Puppy Island

Discover exciting locations, dig up hidden treasures, build and expand your holiday resort, and meet plenty of lovable little friends to care for on your very own un-paw-gettable, tropical island adventure! Switch version reviewed.

Dressing up your pups and the on-trail minigames are fun, but otherwise, the monotony sets in quickly.

Food for Thought
  • Very cozy and easy to play but quickly becomes repetitive.
  • Dressing up your pups is super enjoyable thanks to the number of clothing options and dog breeds.
  • Bathing and petting both being required for walks despite using the same gameplay feature added more tedium than fun.

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Adam Haffen
Adam is a staff writer who's been working with words for more than five years now. He started playing video games when he was six years old and is a huge action-adventure and RPG fan. His favorite series include The Legend of Zelda and Kingdom Hearts. True to form, he has an endless backlog of books and games that he swears he'll get to one day.