Inside Pulse 12

Review: My Vet Practice 3D – In The Country (Nintendo 3DS)

MVP3DCoverMy Vet Practice 3D – In The Country
Genre: Pet Simulation
Developer: Independent Arts
Publisher: TREVA Entertainment
Release Date: 10/17/13

My Vet Practice 3D gives you the chance to do the job everyone dreams about… being a veterinarian in the country.

I just want to say that this is the third pet game in a row that just assumes I’m female, which is starting to feel a little insulting. I guess if I want to play as a homicidal maniac I must be a guy, but if I find rabbits cute then I must be a girl. I understand most violent video games feature male protagonists, so women feel slighted by a general lack of representation of their gender (which is completely understandable), yet at the same time I’m sort of concerned that, as a guy, it’s just assumed I must enjoy smashing the eye sockets of skulls and that games with fluffy animals aren’t for me.

My Vet Practice 3D has lots of fluffy animals.

It really isn’t for me.

MVP3DThat isn’t the fault of the fluffy animals or of my masculine desire to spill digital blood, however. When I booted up the game, I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe something like Trauma Center but with animals. That is not the kind of game this is; instead, My Vet Practice 3D is more of a time management simulator crossed with some light pet simulation aspects. Much of the game revolves around treating animals to get paid, to grow the practice so you can treat more animals and get paid, so you can treat more animals, and so on.

While I plan on talking about different aspects of the game in this review, if you do purchase, or have purchased, this game for the love of fluffy animals, read the electronic manual to figure out what is going on, as the game does not have any sort of tutorial or try to explain anything.

The game starts with you, Dr. Female, in front of your new practice in the country. I wouldn’t live in the country by myself because there are bears out there, even though it worked well for Grizzly Adams. Shortly after opening the front doors, a steady parade of hurt and sick cockatiels and rabbits come into the office to be fixed up, as though this small town is running a small critter fight club. I tried to ask an NPC about it, but they said there wasn’t one, and if there was they couldn’t talk about it anyway.

Once the animal has been called in to be examined, there is the diagnostic phase where you poke and prod the animal with various implements to determine the source of their condition. This is sometimes odd, like when an animal comes in for vaccinations and still need to be diagnosed. At times this diagnostic period fails to work properly, so I poke the poor critter with every tool available and it never moves on to the treatment stage until the game recognizes I’m still playing it and decides to move to the next screen.

MVP3D3That is the treatment phase. You’ve figured out what’s wrong with the animal and then have to use the touch pad to disinfect, inject, bandage, and so forth. This uses supplies that are limited, and you can run out of them. If you don’t run out of supplies, you get paid for the treatment, and it is on to the next animal. If you do run out of supplies, then you get paid less for time spent and send the injured or sick animal back home. It’s a hard life out there in the country.

Patients come in a steady stream, but it is important to run to town for supplies throughout the day, as well as watching the different meters for rest and food for Dr. Female. During business hours for the vet practice, the game is a steady stream of fixing pets, making supply runs and taking food/rest breaks. After hours is another good time to prepare for the following day, as well as using the money earned from the day to expand the practice, buy upgrades for the property, purchase a website and advertising, and all around make decisions to further the business. Expanding means you can also buy animals to take care of and even a horse to ride.

The time management style of game isn’t really my favorite thing, but My Vet Practice 3D does well with it. There is a good, clear cycle of managing the tasks and minigames during the day, rewards from doing so, and ways of investing those rewards back into the vet practice in order to add more tasks to manage. While that feedback loop is well developed, the designers have done little to help new players understand how to access anything and how to get into that positive feedback loop. The interface is clunky, occasionally unresponsive, and the opposite of user friendly.

MVP3D2How clunky? At the beginning of the game it shows the doctor standing outside of the vet practice from an overhead isometric perspective, and for a moment I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. The D-Pad didn’t move her, so I then toggled something that lets you use the gyroscope to control the movement for the doctor, but regretted that instantly. Turning it on made the game feel more like My Drunken Vet Practice. This all takes place on the touch screen, and I had to tap to move anywhere, which is fine, but I didn’t know where to tap. There aren’t obvious icons or anything to understand where you are supposed to go. I stood in the waiting room with patients coming in, not sure how to interact with them. I ultimately had to move the doctor behind the desk in the waiting room to make progress; I had been mistakenly walking right up to the people in the waiting room thinking that was how to interact with them.

Everything taking place on the touch screen is an odd choice because for a game with 3D in the title. The 3D screen shows a map of the general area during the main game screens, and the only 3D are the dots marking people coming and going from the practice. In the diagnostic and treatment phases, the top screen provides a duplicate picture of the animal on the touch screen with a summary of what is going on. There’s absolutely no point to the 3D; not only does it not do much at all, but since most of the game takes place on the touchscreen it’s literally a headache to keep the 3D on. Graphically My Vet Practice 3D is simple, though it works well within the game. The animals look okay, though there’s just one model for each with different colors.

Short Attention Span Summary:
My Vet Practice 3D: In The Country is a decent time management/pet sim hybrid hidden beneath a poor user interface and a clunky diagnosis/treatment system.