Mental health is no laughing matter, unless you're a furry creature who has been forced to have some time away from everyone. Yes, in Animentals you are charged with caring for a cutesy creature who also happens to be a mental patient. It's a strange mix of Tamogotchi and The Sims. Filled with amusing animations and mini-games, Animentals wants you to engage and play. Will it drive you crazy in the process? Read on to find out.
Version Reviewed: 1.2
In Animentals, you're presented with a cute little character, “Furball”, who is plodding around in a strangely equipped hospital room. You can drag around to explore the room, but left to its own devices the game will follow Furball as he entertains himself.
Good morning Furball!
You discover through the help pages that your objective is to care for Furball for seven days. If you do that successfully he'll be released from the hospital. Given that game progress is lost when the game is shut down, we're clearly not dealing with real time here. To 'cure' Furball, he has to be taken through a routine of 'therapeutic' activities, which will help with his three main attributes. They're unnamed, but going by the icons, they look like health, happiness, and energy.
Tracking Furball's vital stats
Each activity takes the form of mini-games which are accessed by tapping the objects in the room. The bed allows Furball to go for a well earned rest, meanwhile you have to play a reaction speed game, with sheep running toward you that you have to catch; your effectiveness will determine how well he sleeps. A leaky hose and bucket signifies the bathing game, where you watch Furball walking around in random directions. You have to carefully time the dropping of water bombs on the poor little guy to clean him up. Giving Furball his medicine involves dropping him through a trap door (why?!) into a memory game, where you have to recall behind which doors Furball's medicine is kept. Next along is the dog-bowl, with which you give Furball his favourite dish - squashed bugs! This is a whack-a-mole type game where bugs appear behind holes and you have to crush them before they disappear. Lastly, there's the trampoline to entertain our manic little monster. In this game, you are challenged to repeatedly tap as fast as you can to make him bounce higher and higher to catch a prize.
The sheep game along with helpful instructions
Accompanying these games, there are plenty of strange and heart-tugging animations. For example, with the bathing game, a clear tube closes on top of him. Prior to being sucked away to the bathroom, he looks terrified and makes big 'puppy dog' eyes at you. Meanwhile, after the feeding game, he eats a dish load of squashed bugs, and then proceeds to vomit everywhere! It's fair to say this is game is comically cute while being subversively disturbing too!
Furball's diet of squashed bugs obviously doesn't agree with him
Sadly, that is where the fun ends with Animentals. Unfortunately, the game is beset with graphical issues and accelerometer related bugs. The game's splash screen seems to be ninety degrees out of phase with gravity; whichever way you turn the phone, it's always in the wrong direction. The game doesn't actually need to respond to the accelerometer, but it does require you to change from landscape to portrait for some of the mini-games. For the mini-games in portrait orientation, I found myself having to hold the phone at an angle from horizontal to allow me to see better, but not so much that it triggered the screen rotation. Past that point, the game couldn't handle rotating the display and would present a mostly black graphical mess.
Examples of the graphical bugs in Animentals
David Gilson for All About Symbian, 17th August 2011
Reviewed by David Gilson at