In September 1995 I bought a new computer game that I'd heard about from my friend as a birthday present to myself (I could just about afford a £10 present for myself in those days!). It was a sort of virtual pet program, where you had to look after one of five Dogz, Chi Chi, Bootz, Jowls, Chip and Scrappy. The animation was simple and the Dogz cartoon-like. If you put down a bowl of food, the Dogz would eat it. If you threw the red ball, the Dogz would fetch it. You could 'hex' the Dogz breeds using good old Notepad. Life was simple then.
Shortly afterwards the feline version of this "ground-breaking award-winning" program was released, and Petz owners learnt that Petz can be fickle. These Catz had more toys (and a mouse as a bonus), but they were more independent and would not necessarily eat the bowl of food you gave them, or fetch the toys thrown for them. This attitude is summed up in the booklet that comes with the program - the booklet was written from the Catz point of view with headings like 'Adopting Your Human'. As an added bonus you could adopt more than one catz without having to install more copies on the program. Life became less simple, yet people were as captured by these Catz as they were by the Dogz.
Next came a bizarre and shortlived Petz incarnation - Oddballz. PFMagic seems to be embarrassed about Oddballz, as all mention of the program was removed from their official site. Personally I liked the wacky and unusual Oddballz. 13 Oddballz Eggz were released, some with the program and some over the net, before Petz II was released. With the advent of Petz II, Oddballz left the scene, never to be heard of again. I for one will never forget (and still have a copy of) my favourite Oddballz, Modvark, Dynaroo, Honker, Zott and Jester. Life was a bit bizarre then.
Dogz II and Catz II were released together, with the bonus of combining to make Petz II when both were installed. You could now get two petz out together, however Dogz rarely got on with Catz. Hexing as we now know it started with the more complex hex editors, but there was no restiction on the numbers of breeds you could hex and getting the new breeds to appear in the Adoption Center was easy. There were more toys, and you could add even more toys and breeds by downloading them from the internet. Petz still basically did what they were told, although Catz were always more independent than the Dogz. A new idea in Petz II was that abused or neglected Petz could run away, and this encouraged responsible Petz ownership. Life became a bit more difficult and serious.
The next Petz incarnation was Petz 3. The main addition to Petz 3 was the ability to breed Petz and produce wild and wonderful new breeds from these crosses. This encouraged a lot of unecessary breeding (I will be the first to admit I have been guilty of this in the past) and the Petz world boomed as unwanted kittens and puppies were put up on webpages everywhere for adoption. The actual Petz look very similar to the Petz II Petz, but their personalities differ slightly. For starters Catz and Dogz can now easily be best buddies. Life has definately become busier.
So, what changes does Petz 4 herald? Voice recognition (you won't catch me talking to my computer) is one addition, as well as playscenes set in far off lands as well as recognisable locations. New clothes like the wild animal costumes will replace other wardrobe items, and new toys will fill the Toybox. I don't have Petz 4, and it won't be in my part of the world for a few months yet, so we have to rely on you folks that do have it to tell us the good and bad points of it. If you have Petz 4, why don't you email us at PetzKennelClub@animail.net and tell us your view? What are the good points? What are the bad points? Paw rating? (5 paws = great, 1 paw = poor) Any results will be included in the next issue.
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