Backstage: Dogs, iPod cases, and video games
Yes, we love dogs - at least, most of us do. And this week was a big one for canines and electronics at iLounge: Tiger started out the week with i-Dog, an electronic toy that rocks out to iPod music, and then two cool, mostly unrelated items arrived here for us to check out.
Incase has developed this special edition Hachiko case to commemmorate the opening of the new Apple Store in Shibuya, Japan. The case, based on Incase’s standard full-sized iPod Pouch design, is brown with bright orange lettering, sides, and interior, and features the image of a faithful Akita - an interesting departure for Incase, given its music, dinosaur, and preppy cases we’ve looked at in the past. They’ll be giving some of the cases away to lucky people at Shibuya’s opening, then selling others for around $40 only at that location. It’s a super cool idea, and further proof that Incase is willing to go to unusual extremes to make the iPod case a hotter, boutique phenomenon.
Is Japan dog-crazy? The big thing over there right now - at least, for video gamers - is Nintendogs, which can best be described as a dramatic evolution of Tamagotchi. You choose your breed from around 18 different types - 6 breeds are found on each of 3 cartridge versions Nintendo sells - and then raise and train your dog. “Chihuahua and Friends” also includes German Shepherds, King Charles Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Boxers. “Miniature Dachshund and Friends” also has Beagles, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Golden Retrievers and Siberian Huskies. “Labrador Retriever and Friends” also has Miniature Schnauzers, Toy Poodles, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Shiba Inus, and Miniature Doberman Pinschers.
The twist here is that the Nintendo DS has a built-in microphone and, of course, its touch screen and stylus, which allow you to interact with the dog in ways those little egg-like Tamagotchi keychains could never have imagined. Your Nintendog learns his name, tricks, and other behaviors from your voice and touch interactions, and the DS’s realtime clock keeps track of how much attention he’s getting. Its release in Japan a few months ago gave the DS a major shot in the arm, particularly amongst females, and now Nintendo is hoping to replicate its success here. To that end, they even added a few popular breeds to the U.S. versions - thankfully including the Siberian Husky - though the Chihuahua & Friends cartridges I received sadly don’t have that breed. A wireless feature, however, lets me swap breeds with other people who have different cartridges. Now if I could only find someone else with a DS and the game - three weeks before its U.S. release.
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