When you think of “wow moments” in games, your brain probably ventures somewhere along the lines of huge plot twists and the spiciest of spoilers from 100 hour RPGs. I know mine certainly does – it was incredibly difficult holding myself back from babbling about my favourite Xenoblade Chronicles moment, but that’s something you should experience for yourself. Anyway, I digress.
One of my all time favourite wow moments is the first time I booted up Nintendogs on Christmas Day, 2006. I had been begging for a Nintendo DS for what must have been all year (and a real dog for even longer) and at long last, my dreams came true, and I was greeted with an Ice White DS Lite (because pink is gross and for girly girls) and the Dalmatian edition of Nintendogs. Commence screaming.
Loading up the game for the very first time and instantly falling in love with my very own Lucky the Dalmatian was like magic. At the time, I very much believed this was the pinnacle of realistic graphics, and that these virtual dogs were near enough photo-realistic. I was blown away; as that one NPC in Pokémon always says, ‘technology is incredible!’ I think I’d have passed out if I knew what games would end up looking like 14 years later.
The magic began to wear off slightly when I couldn’t get past the required section at the beginning of the game where you have to make your dog learn its name by saying it into the microphone. The visuals of the DS may have been incredible (I thought) but the microphone… perhaps not so much. In reality, my seven-year-old brain just didn’t understand that you had to say the name with the same intonation each time, but after having my mum step in to figure that out for me, I was off once again, and straight back to intensely rubbing the touch screen to pet my beloved spotty dog.
After that, I didn’t put the game down all day; I was so in awe of how realistically the dog behaved (“it sneezes when you touch its nose!”) and how cute she was; it really was like I’d gotten both the DS I wanted and a real dog for Christmas all at once.
That Christmas marked my first steps into the world of gaming, and away from the Baby Annabell phase of Christmases past (much to my Grandma’s dismay), but perhaps most importantly, prepared me for seven years later when I’d finally have my real puppy dream come true in the form of my very own tiny white fluffball. I may not visit my Nintendogs anymore, but I have a real one who honestly looks like he was plucked straight from the game, and I wouldn’t swap him for the world.