April 18, 2024
Pupperazzi is now out on Nintendo Switch, but is this first-person puppy picture-taking sim all bark no bite? The Finger Guns review.

If you’re a pet owner, you’ve likely got a whole camera roll of photos dedicated to your furry child. This desire to document every blep, yawn or cute sleeping position bleeds into your everyday life. One of which is a slightly odd, probably frowned upon aspect – the compulsion to snap someone else’s pet. It’s not anything malicious, just something you want to show your spouse or best friend, but for some reason it even feels weird asking for a photo. I know I can’t be the only one. Either way, Pupperazzi solves that odd dilemma by making it so I can take pictures of all the dogs, and there’s no one to stop me.

Originally released on Xbox and PC last year with ‘Very Positive’ Steam reviews, it’s now barking up Nintendo Switch’s tree. The developer’s Sundae Month have quite a catalogue of games in various genres, but they all share the same sense of visual finesse that’s quite inviting. Cosy, low-poly and all equally as charming – does Pupperazzi make it out of the darkroom? Or does it have their finger over the lens? Let me frame it for you.

I’ll Follow You Til’ You Love Me…

The moment you start a new game of Pupperazzi you are transported to Lighthouse Cove. This is where you’ll immediately meet Sea Dog – a scruffy pup in head-to-toe fishing waterproofs. The tutorial starts as he barks orders at you to take his photo. ZL brings up the lens and ZR takes the photo. From there on you’ll learn your traversal abilities like double jump and sprint and then you’re on your way to being an ‘influencer’.

The rest of the game is made up of you receiving objectives via the menu where text boxes of pets ask you to perform various tasks. One pup might want a stylish portrait, whilst another may want a photo taken with your pixel lens to use as a reference for their video game. The challenges themselves aren’t difficult, though amassing followers is a light grind.

Objectives often reward you with followers, but the main way is by posting to your socials. This is a case of looking through your film roll and clicking to post. You’ll be complimented or berated depending on your variety of shots – angles, lenses used or different film styles.

At the start it would feel like a breeze, however, your followers become increasingly nit-picky and the goal post of progression is pushed further. This draws out your playtime in an obvious way, unlike feeling a natural sense of progression. Don’t go into Pupperazzi expecting a triumphant ending, because the game is about enjoying the laid-back journey.

Pupper, Pupperazzi

And quite the journey you go through. There are 5 levels overall, with most of them having a different time of day variant which changes the aesthetics, and to a lesser extent dog behaviour. From the city to the moon, each level isn’t exhaustively dense, but there are enough nooks and crannies to enjoy your time in each of them.

One of the most interesting gameplay elements is the variety in photography. As I previously mentioned, you unlock different camera equipment the more you progress. A zoom lens, fisheye and even one to turn your photos into pixels. As well as different film rolls from more traditional black and white or sepia, to more psychedelic colour palettes. It mixes up the gameplay in a neat way, whilst also being objective based.

The winning feature that you unlock about a third of the way through is the ability to change any dog’s outfit. Glasses, hats, jackets, you can change it all. I made sure all the dogs at the skatepark were appropriately kitted before petting them and letting them go off to shred. It’s an absolute delight to go up to any dog and put them in whatever I choose and take the perfect portrait.

The Weiner Takes It All

Not a necessity, but you can also fill out the Puppypedia. You’ll find this at your home on the map, alongside your gallery with the photos you’ve saved. This categorises all the breeds and uses your photos to document them in a book to flick through at your leisure. It does give you that catch ’em all feeling, but there’s a couple of design choices that make it feel a little like a chore.

Firstly, you only have a limited amount of photos you can take with your roll. You start with a little amount and it doesn’t get much bigger. The only way to solve this is to recycle photos, making them lost forever if you don’t save them first. It’s a cumbersome feature and a confusing one as I can’t put my finger on why it’s there. Ideally, I’d like to spam my shutter and capture magic franticly and carefree, but alas I had to be more specific with the shots.

On top of this, you can only see what you’ve collected at home. This means leaving the area, load screen, go home, load screen and repeat. The load times aren’t too kind, forcing me into making the most of my time on a level before leaving. Whilst I’m on about performance, Pupperazzi’s frame rate isn’t great. Other systems’ versions are much smoother as well as having better visuals overall. For example, there’s a lot of pop in of mostly dogs when they’re not too far away on the Switch version, making the game feel technically flawed.

Raising the Woof

Although the visuals have been slightly downgraded to work better on Switch, the game still boasts a vibrant low-poly art style. The colour palette has a lot of shades of pastels that make it look like a wonderful cartoon. Whilst dog animations are literally just them hopping along, their goofy eyes and dopey AI really do make the game feel endearing.

On top of that, the chord ladened lo-fi electronic chilled beats add so much more to the charm that the visuals have done a great job with already. The overall package is a mixed bag. Visually and sonically, it really gets the assignment. An absolutely relaxing exercise in taking photos of doggos. It’s so chilled and pleasant to shut your brain off and play.

However, the technical issues I’ve mentioned do wear that charm thin the longer I spent with it. Docked or handheld, the frame rate and visuals are the same and it’s really not as polished as I’d hoped. I do wish I had more equipment from the start, making unlocking feel a bit grindy, when I just wanted to play with fewer restrictions, which counters how laid-back Pupperazzi presents itself.

On the surface, Pupperazzi is a pleasant way to relax and have puppy photoshoots. The audio and visuals further extended that pleasantry by being distinctively designed and colourful, making it a soothing game to explore. Though the game’s performance on Switch is less than stellar, hampering the overall enjoyment of the game.

Pupperazzi is out now on Nintendo Switch (review platform), Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.

Developer: Sundae Month

Publisher: Kitfox Games

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here. If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.

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