A Virtual Pet 

When walkies are out of the question but a puppy is top of your wish list then maybe a computer can come to your rescue.
Puppy Love from Avanquest

While we may be regarded as a nation of pet lovers, not everybody's circumstances allow them to include one of the numerous household pets, especially the ever-popular dog, into their current lifestyle.  One possible solution to this "lack of a pet" dilemma could be to take advantage of a virtual pet such as provided by Puppy Luv.  This puppy on a PC offering is the number one selling virtual pet range for computer users.

Available from GSP, Puppy Luv Adventures gives you a choice of 25 cute puppies as your virtual companion.  You can select from five breeds of dog as you decide on a Husky, Beagle, Dalmatian,

Labrador or Pug.  Each puppy allows you a choice of five skin types giving you different colouring and markings for your pet.  Surprisingly, although you will need to enter a user name in order for a profile to be created to store achievements, there is no option to name your puppy.

On entering the environment of your virtual pet, you are shown a fully 3D animated puppy along with status bars providing feedback regarding various aspects of your puppy's health and needs.  You will need to keep a close watch on this information to ensure your puppy is happy and contented although some messages of advice do appear from time to time.  In order to gain access to the different tasks vital to your puppy's well-being you will need to click on the menu icon.  The menu divides its tasks into the five categories of Games, Go Out, Toys, Tricks and Care. 

Looking after a pet, even a virtual one, requires finance and you are initially given 50 units of currency for this purpose.  You can purchase items, including food, water and treats, from the shop.  Initially the choice of goods will be limited but more will become available as your puppy progresses by learning the 16 tricks and gaining success in various competitions.  You can also earn extra money by carrying out certain tasks.

While the game's graphics and the animation used for the puppy is well up to standard, and will definitely appeal to the younger members of the family, there were times when the program felt a little sluggish with pauses before moving on to the next section.  It was also noticeable that there was one omission from the record kept of any progress, rewards the program settings from one session to the next.  Whenever the program was started, the volume level would always revert to maximum rather than retain what had been set previously.

Puppy Luv Adventures has been priced at £9.99.  You will need a computer with a Pentium 1.0GHz processor with 256MB of RAM (512MB for

Vista) and DirectX 9.0c running Windows 2000/XP/Vista.

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