Zynga's Dream PetHouse on iOS: Adopt pets high in the tree tops
At first glance, Dream PetHouse resembles Tecmo's Jollywood on Facebook, since both ask you to build societies high in the trees, and even force you to build bridges and ladders so that each new item somehow connects to those that are already in the tree. However, Dream PetHouse places much more focus on the animals themselves, as your tree will grow to bear fruit which can be fed to these pets to help them grow (older pets offer better profits). Just as you'll earn experience points when completing tasks (leveling up unlocks new items to purchase for your tree), each pet has its own Age meter, which fills as its fed.
Over time, your pets' homes will produce a few coins of profit, which can then be used to purchase more pets and more homes, or even to expand the size of the tree. There's a goal system that takes advantage of most of the game's features, asking you to collect coins from specific buildings, place specific items or buildings in your tree and so on. Interestingly, you'll need to collect the profits from these goals manually, so you may forget that you've completed one altogether. This is odd for a mobile game, since things are normally streamlined as much as possible for quick pick-up-and-play sessions.
In addition to homes, you can also purchase Play Areas for your pets, like Restaurants, Aquariums and more. Each building requires you to pay for multiple stages of construction before it's complete, as you'll need to hire a builder for one stage and then a painter for the final stage, as one example. These rooms serve to further flesh out the look of your tree, and can also be used to earn profits after a few minutes or hours, depending on the room.
In terms of social play, you can use Facebook Connect to add friends from Facebook, or you can visit community neighbors, earning food to feed your pets in the process. For the most part however, the game runs just fine as a solo experience.
All told, Dream PetHouse is a fairly simple iPhone game, that can be played in either long sessions (since you'll always have pets to play with), or in short bursts (while waiting for your rooms to generate profits). It might almost be too simple a game for some users, but the high-quality graphics and charm are definitely there. Whether that instant Zynga popularity will be there as well remains to be seen.
Are you excited to try Dream PetHouse when it launches in the American iTunes store? If you've had a chance to play this one, what do you think of it so far? Sound off in the comments.