I appreciate when games try to offer something to do every day. I like when they try to keep things concise. Not being overwhelming can help a lot. Pupperazzi, unfortunately, ends up being a game with control issues. It dictates how much you can do in a not very satisfying way. Sadly, what’s there doesn’t feel as well-rounded as other recent photography games like New Pokemon Snap, Toem, or Beasts of Maravilla Island.. While it offers the basics a person might expect, its pace limits a person and I encountered bugs both when playing on Windows and Mac.
Pupperazzi is, as the name suggests, a game about taking pictures of dogs. Everything you do is in the name of that goal. Getting new camera equipment. Sharing pictures. Taking care of simple tasks like cleaning up a skate park. It’s all about those canines. You can go to five places at different times of days to snap those pictures. Fulfill requests. Make a name for yourself. Maybe even pet all of the dogs. As you gain followers, you earn the ability to do things like take selfies, dress up dogs, buy different lenses, and collect extra varieties of film. You can also get access to different times of day.
Sadly, it isn’t always good at letting you get into that. Pupperazzi’s pacing disappointed me. Take the introduction, for example. After taking photos of the Sea Dog, you get a few requests. You can unlock the shop. Explore a small area. The problem is if you take photos, it doesn’t matter how cute or good you might think they are. Share too many and, rather than encouraging or helpful comments, you’ll get “spam.” It will tell you that you’re posting too much and you need to stop. It’s discouraging. (Going to a new area does let you post again, but you’ll eventually hit that cap once more.) Since it seems like this should be a freeform game you play at your own pace, it is frustrating.
Speaking of “at your own pace,” it controls that too. You are capped when it comes to how much you can do per day. You can’t move through the quests at your own pace. They don’t automatically populate when you finish one. Real-world time needs to pass. Only then can you do more. Again, it’s frustrating. There is a lot you could do. But you can’t. Because the game won’t let you. Which means you might already have photographed things you would need for later days, but don’t have them for that time. You just get your about three requests per day per area. Once you’re done, you are done.
I also lament the lack of, say, a comprehensive dogoopedia. In games like Beasts of Maravilla Island or New Pokemon Snap, you are building up a collection. You gather together galleries of good shots. You’re learning a bit about what’s there. You might see details about, say, birds in an area of Maravilla. Pupperazzi has a Puppypedia, but it didn’t work in the build I was playing. It is supposed to keep track of species, actions, and even hats. But it didn’t automatically add these entries as I took photos. So I have no idea what level of detail it offers regarding them.
I’d also caution people on Macs against buying Pupperazzi at launch. I’ve been playing it on a Windows PC and (attempted to) play it on a MacBook Air. Now, granted I am using Big Sur. This means it can have issues with 32-bit games. However, ahead of launch I kept running into all sorts of issues in the development build. Photos wouldn’t display properly sometimes or text might not show up. If you use a PC, you’ll be fine. But my Mac experience ended up being mostly unplayable. (You can see one of the screenshots I took on it below, complete with error codes in the box at the bottom.)
The idea is sound enough. Pupperazzi is amusing. Dogs are everywhere. They’re being cute and silly. I just don’t appreciate the degree of control it exerts over the player. It’s letting us loose in a colorful world with lots of places to explore and dogs to see. It seems counter-intuitive to not let us be free to enjoy all of that however and whenever we want.
Pupperazzi is available on the Xbox One and PC via Steam. It is also on Xbox Game Pass.