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There’s a new pet game in town and it’s Petville by Zynga.  This is in competition with Playfish’s Pet Society.  As usual, there’s going to be a lot of similarities between the two.

You begin the game by creating your humanoid “pet” by changing its looks and giving it a name.  Once that’s done you’re tossed into a new house and ready to begin cleaning and feeding your pet and buying a bunch of stuff to customize your house.  Sound familiar?

As is customary with Facebook games, you can send and receive free gifts between friends.  Usually this is a pet “treat.”  It has a nice effect for each treat which makes getting new and different ones interesting.

You can level up your pet by gaining “love” points.  You get these points by wiping your pet with soap, cleaning up the horrible messes it makes, buying new things for the house, buying it food, and interacting with your friend’s pets.

When you level up you get to buy new items from the shops and, at certain points, a new room gets added to your house.

There are four shops, currently.  A clothing store where you can outfit your pet in different styles of clothes and costumes.  There’s a furniture store, nicely separated into floors containing items for different areas of your house.  A hardware store to buy flooring and wallpaper.  There’s also a car dealership where you can buy a car to sit in your garage when you get one.

The stores are nice in that they have different floors to make what you’re trying to find a bit easier.  They are setup essentially the same way Pet Society’s are.  They can also be really cluttered with items placed on top of other items and price tags all over the place.  If an item comes in different colors there’s a multi-colored icon on the price tag.

As far as game play goes, though, there isn’t much to do.  Petville hasn’t been around as long as Pet Society has, granted.  But at least PS has the balls and Frisbees and stuff.  And the fishing pond.  And the hurdles race.  The most  you can do in Petville is visit your friends and clean up after them.

Which brings up a few of the negative aspects of this game.  Cleaning up means going from room to room picking up bits of garbage and clothes.  These items are marked by flies buzzing around each dirty item.  Finding them is a game in itself because things can be stuck on top of the fridge, or on a chair.  Mostly they end up on the floor.  The design of the game screen, though, makes picking things up a chore.  Stuff gets hidden behind the the status information across the top or behind the icons on the bottom.  The icons will generally bring up a “pop-up balloon” when the mouse hovers over it obscuring what you’re trying to click on even more.  You can, and have to, use the scroll arrows on the sides to move the house back and forth.  Your pet, though, won’t stay out of frame for long and has no problems running right on top of what you’re trying to pick up.  They’ll also sit on things and generally get in the way.  Doing this in a friend’s house means having to fight your way through two pets to get this done.  And you can’t control your friend’s critter so if they feel like sitting on an apple core that’s what they’ll do.  It is possible to pick up and move pets, but it seems to be a hit miss operation.  Sometimes I can do it, but it can be a bit frustrating to get it done.

The graphics in Petville are nice, though.  It looks better than PS, especially for the items.  These fancy graphics come at a price, though, for players with lower end computers and slower Internet connections.  The large size of the pets also makes it difficult for collecting garbage strewn around the house.

Unlike PS, though, Zynga doesn’t seem to be pushing buying things with really money as much.  And it’s a lot easier to accrue game dollars so you don’t always feel like you’re missing out on things. 

There is one major negative point, though.  I’ve complained in the past about Facebook games penalizing you for not constantly checking your things.  In the farm games, for instance, your crops will wither and die if you decide to have a life and not harvest them in time.  Petville is no different because if you don’t feed your pet in time they’ll check themselves into the pound if you don’t feed them in time.  Then  you need to pony up some game dollars to get them out.  Yes, they’d rather be put down than die of starvation.

Like all Facebook games, Petville is in beta so hopefully they’ll get some things ironed out and maybe add more to do.

The Good:

  • Nice graphics
  • Interesting animations for pet snacks
  • Hip animations for actions visiting your friends

The not so Good:

  • Cleaning up can be a real chore
  • Hyper pets means hard store browsing
  • There’s really not much to do