Review: Pupperazzi

What if you could play Pokemon Snap, but instead of taking photographs of Pokemon, you snapped shots of cute puppies? It’s an idea with massive appeal and developer Sundae Month did exactly this with Pupperazzi. If that name sounds familiar to you, then it might be because you played one of their previous games: Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor or Dad Quest. There are an increasing number of games centering around photography, such as Umurangi Generation, but none are nearly as wholesome as what’s being brought to the table with Pupperazzi.

Starting up the game quickly reveals the basic gameplay and hook for the whole experience. Players are plopped straight into a colorful world filled with a wide variety of dogs and tasked with taking photos of them. Players can opt to take pictures completely as they wish or take photos based on a list of requests. The only limitation on a level is the number of photos available on your film reel. Fortunately, it’s possible to always delete photos to gain more back, or simply leave the level and return. This is akin to something like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater or other games where achievements are persistent, leaving only uncompleted tasks still open upon returning to a level.

Gameplay itself is simple with moving your character and camera separately by default, pulling up the camera or picking up objects in the environment to interact with the various pups (yes, you can pet the dogs!). The camera itself starts out bare bones, but there are upgrades. Scattered around the environment are gold bones which serve as Pupperazzi’s form of currency. Fulfilling photo requests also yields gold bones for the effort. Once enough are accrued, it’s time to go shopping for new camera lenses or film types. Film types often veer into Instagram filter territory which allows players to jazz up their work. Lenses on offer include things like a fish eye effect, extra zoom, slo-mo and more. Many times a request will come in that specifies using a specific lens or filter, such as a request for a black and white photo of dogs playing arcade games.

The general loop of Pupperazzi is simple enough. Initially there is only one level available and requires players to complete a number of requests before opening up the next area. This trend continues until every stage is unlocked. Completing further requests opens up new variants of the existing levels, such as visiting the beach again at night instead of during the daytime. There’s also a social media element which plays into it as well. Photos taken can be submitted to the game’s fictional social platform. When this is done, photos gain likes and followers. Some requests are gated behind a minimum number of followers. For the most part, unless you’re taking photos without dogs in them, posting typically yields at least one new follower or two.

Requests themselves are typically straightforward. The requestor will say something like “I want a close up photo of a dog on a skateboard” so you know to use a zoom lens and snap a photo of a gnarly dog riding a skateboard. With that said, there are a handful of issues with the request system currently. At times it seems like a photo should completely satisfy the demand, but it can’t be marked as completed. On one occasion, taking a totally unrelated photo made it so a different request was enabled for completion. These are all just bugs that presumably will be resolved in due time. Personally, I believe it would also be easier if the requests auto completed rather than needing to return to the quest menu to mark them as fulfilled yourself.

Graphically, Pupperazzi is a joy to look at. The art is intentionally low poly, but higher resolution than say a PS1 game. It seems that practically every dog breed is represented with an in-game model at some point. You’ll see chihuahuas and pugs palling around with great danes and german shepherds. The dogs are not anthropomorphic, which makes seeing them riding a scooter, playing arcade machines or eating at a table look all the funnier. There are many times throughout the game where players will simply want to snap photos and save them to their album because of how silly or cute a scene is.

There’s not much else to the game. It’s intentionally simply designed so that gamers of all skill levels can pick up and play. But going to levels to unlock and complete more requests isn’t the most satisfying thing out there. Fortunately, the wide variety of dogs and actions keeps it worth re-visiting stages. Re-visiting is required in order to complete some requests and simply see some unique things occurring at certain times of the day. This is a game best played in short bursts so it doesn’t wear out its welcome.

Closing Comments:

Pupperazzi immediately impresses with its adorable dogs bounding across a variety of colorful levels. Once digging into the game, it’s clear that there isn’t too much beyond the basic concept of collecting adorable photographs. Sure, there are ways to tweak the photos via lenses and filters, but there’s not much beyond that. With that said, there doesn’t need to be more to it. Pupperazzi is exactly the kind of game designed for players to unwind with after a stressful day. It demands little from the player and offers copious cartoony cuteness in response.