Review – Little Friends: Puppy Island

If you were alive back in 2005, you may recall the short-lived, but intense fad that was the Nintendogs franchise. I remember this game being the most popular thing in school, even though, at its core, it was little more than a very expensive Tamagotchi. We were just taking care of a virtual pet, with little in terms of depth. Even though I look back and think that Nintendogs was silly, I get its appeal. It doesn’t matter if the dog is real or virtual, I smile just by looking at them. I follow a ton of Instagram profiles with Shiba Inus (I own one), Huskies, Shih-Tzus, Samoyeds, and more. I pet Torgal in Final Fantasy XVI whenever I can. Now I am playing Little Friends: Puppy Island, which is barely more than a Nintendogs clone, but one that still makes me smile.

Little Friends: Puppy Island Petting Dogs

Before you say it, yes, you can pet the dog. You can pet all the dogs. Pet them all the time. Forever.

Little Friends: Puppy Island is exactly that. It’s a game about puppies in an island. You arrive at a summer house, one owned by a friend who never shows up in person, where you’re just supposed to take care of their pet. Suddenly, you’ll find and adopt more puppies by simply meeting them while walking down the road. You will also unearth hidden treasure, and interact with more people (via SMS, of course), helping them set up businesses around the island. Soon enough, you’ll transform what was once your friend’s summer retreat into a booming travel paradise for puppies. It’s a silly premise, of course, but if you’re playing a virtual pet simulator for its story… well… I don’t even have a rebuttal for that.

Little Friends: Puppy Island Walks


The game itself features the simplest, most basic of gameplay loops, but I think it works. You play with your puppies in the backyard. You can also feed them, pet them, and bathe them. Make sure to keep their meters fulfilled, and make sure to play with them in order to improve their stats. Once they reach a specific threshold for a specific stat, such as stamina or speed, you can play a small minigame in a context-sensitive area and reach a new location, or unlock a new venue.

Little Friends: Puppy Island Tug

Mine! It’s mine!

Puppies can be adopted after getting close to them during walks. You need to approach them calmly, perform a small QTE, and then bathe them in your friend’s backyard. For some reason, all of them arrive as if they had just been unearthed from a pool of tar, but I digress. This is the entirety of Little Friends: Puppy Island‘s gameplay loop, and whilst I do admit it’s as simplistic as Nintendogs, there was something about it that made it impossible for me to dislike what it had to offer.

The reason? The dogs. Of course it’s the dogs. Little Friends: Puppy Island had one simple job: make the cuddliest and most adorable puppies in existence. I don’t even mind that much about the simplicity of the environments, or how basic the happy-go-lucky soundtrack is. The puppies are downright freaking adorable, that’s what really matters. Even if the Labrador looks like it’s made out of plastic… it’s still a lab puppy, and I’m a simple person. If I see a dog, even if it’s in a game, the world becomes a better place for a few seconds.

Little Friends: Puppy Island Jobs

Hey, someone has to pay the bills around here. Dog food ain’t cheap.

They say that interacting with dogs makes your brain produce and spread oxytocin, the “happiness hormone”, in your body. They also say that owning dogs improves your blood pressure and helps cure depression. This is why we can’t get enough of these adorable little creatures. Little Friends: Puppy Island doesn’t exactly reach that point, but even though this game is beyond simplistic, even more than Nintendogs itself at times, it makes me smile while playing it. It is an adorable, feel-good pastime. I didn’t expect it, nor did I want it to be anything else other than that. As a result, I can’t dislike it. I can’t envision playing it for hours at a time, but whenever I do pick it up, it succeeds in making me feel happy.


Graphics: 7.5

The environments are bland, but the pups look adorable. In a game like this, what I really care about is if the puppies are the cutest, cuddliest things in the world.

Gameplay: 6.5

Simple Nintendogs-esque controls, a bit of customization, very minute QTEs, and maybe one or two minigames. It’s all very basic, on purpose.

Sound: 6.0

Cute (but generic music), and puppies doing puppy sounds. Little Friends: Puppy Island doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel in this regard.

Fun Factor: 8.0

As shallow as a puddle, but it wasn’t meant to be anything other than a feel-good game filled with pups and no stakes. I can’t envision playing this for hours at a time, but Little Friends: Puppy Island does put a smile on my face whenever I boot it up.

Final Verdict: 7.5

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

Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.

A copy of Little Friends: Puppy Island was provided by the publisher.