We've been hearing about it for weeks now, but today is the day that the UK wags its tail to welcome nintendogs, made exclusively for the Nintendo DS handheld console. Touted as the number one toy this Christmas, the virtual puppy phenomenon already has the US and Japan firmly in its paws. With tales of retailers already being inundated with dog-loving fans eager to catch the latest craze, the game finally goes on sale on the British High Street from 8am tomorrow (Friday 7th October).
To herald its arrival, Nintendo is today (Thursday 6th October) throwing one of the most lavish parties ever seen for virtual or real dogs. The Puppy Party, hosted by all-round animal lover Bill Oddie, features dog-loving celebrities Myleene Klass and Jeremy Edwards as well as canine celebrities - Betty from Eastenders and Coronation Street's very own Schmeichel. There'll be dogs-eye video screens, a VIP (very important pooch) chill-out area, doggy Olympics and a doggy disco to round off the get-together with some barking good tunes.
People already going barking mad for nintendogs include 12-year-old Becky Green from Sawbridgeworth, Herts. She says:
"They're the cutest thing I've ever seen and my mum won't let me have a real dog. It's different to other games. It's real life and it's cool how it responds to how you treat it. You'd more or less treat it how you'd treat a real dog"
Surrey housewife Nina Shaplow, 43, seems set to give in to her teenage children's demands:
"There is a need to bring out games that are less violent...it will attract parents like me to buy for their children. And they are awfully cute."
Twenty-four year old Julia Newbury â€“ in retail - added:
"Great idea, great toy - for women like me and younger kids it is a brilliant idea. Play with dogs on your Nintendo DS stylus...if you can't get a real dog, play with a virtual one. Excellent!".
nintendogs is a brand new way to play and develops the concept of the virtual pet by adding a whole new dimension of interaction. Players can actually touch and speak to their dog which, will in turn react realistically to this attention. This interaction is unlike any other seen before on a games console. nintendogs is an ideal pet for people who can't own a real dog, it makes no mess, will never die and definitely won't moult all over your sofa!
nintendogs will come in three different versions â€“ Labrador Retriever, Miniature Dachshund and Chihuahua - each with six different breeds of puppies to begin with, giving a total of eighteen breeds to choose.
Since its launch in Japan, the Japanese have been going barking mad for "nintendogs" â€“ so much so that sales of the Nintendo DS console have rocketed to five times the average amount during the nintendogs launch week. In the US, the game racked up 250,000 sales in its first week â€“ making it the fastest selling new franchise ever.