Petz (Dogz and Catz) is a series of games dating back to 1995, in which the player can adopt, raise, care for and breed their own virtual pets. Petz were the world's first virtual pets, and were shown to people to be revolutionary. First released before Tamagotchi, they were among the first 3D characters, rendered in a non-photorealistic cartoon style. Petz has sold over 3 million copies worldwide, and appeals to both children and adults.
The player starts at the Adoption Center, where they may choose a dog or cat to adopt of a breed and gender of their choosing. Once they have found a pet they like the user can adopt and name the new puppy or kitten. After around three days (real time) the petz become adults. Adult petz can then breed and have kittens or puppies of their own in Petz 3, Petz 4, and Petz 5 (this was not available in the first two games). Cross-breeding can create different types of petz, called 'Mixed Breeds'.
There are a number of toyz, food/water bowls and treats available. Petz can learn tricks with positive rewards such as tickling and treats, or trained not to do something using the punishment (water) spray bottle. Petz must be looked after properly; abused or neglected petz may run away.
Users soon learned how to reverse-engineer the system, and began producing additional breedz, toys, playscenes, clothes, and developer tools for the games, as permitted by PF Magic, Mindscape, and Ubisoft Entertainment. This is called 'hexing' by the Petz Community, as it was originally done with hex-editing tools.
A related, but much less well-known, game is Oddballz, also by PF Magic, which revolves around bizarre creatures as pets that can be temporarily shapeshifted into more normal animalz (including dogz and catz). Their toyz and food are equally strange, including a shrink ray and pogo-pad.
But perhaps the oddest outlier is the late-comer "Babyz" which broke the mold, both entirely and not at all. By providing pretty similar mechanics, but adapted for immortal baby/toddlers (that can learn to walk, but not talk)
There were also a large number of otherwise unrelated console games during The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games. These completely eschewed the “ball” style rendering in favor of more conventional graphics, and are completely ignored by the original fanbase. Many are imported and rebranded games from other region: Petz Dogz Catz 2 is one such example.
- Catz: Alley Cat, Black & White Shorthair (B&W), Calico, Chinchilla Persian, Main Coon, Orange Shorthair (Oshie), Persian, Russian Blue, Siamese, and Tabby. Added in Petz 5 were the Desert Lynx, Egyptian Mau, Honey Bear, Japanese Bobtail, and Scottish Fold.
- Dogz: Bulldog, Chihuahua, Dachshund, Dalmatian (Dali), Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, Mutt, Poodle, Scottish Terrier (Scottie), and Sheepdog (Sheepie). Added in Petz 5 were the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Jack Russel Terrier, Papillion, and Pug.
- Oddballz: 102, Dynaroo, Grinnz, Honker, Jester, Lips, Modvark, Norvil, Quadrpus, Scorch, Snowbow, Walret, and Zott.
The Catz game also comes with the (already spayed/neutered, so no freakish hybrids unless you do a bit of tweaking) Bunniez breed, and Dogz players get Pigz.
The original series provides examples of:
- Casual Video Game
- Gonk: Many unfortunate Bulldog, Sheepdog, and Persian mixes.
- Game Mod: A massive number of custom petz, playscenes and toyz can be found on various fansites.
- Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: You just need a male and a female (but they must both be either dogz or catz) and have them fall in love to get the female pregnant. This can be fun in both games with hexed breedz and those with the original ones. Let's just say Chihuahuas don't breed well with anything, and their mixies often have grotesque and enormous heads. And with hexed breeds, you can have some insane mixes, such as parrot/badger or oriental dragon/bison.
- Kick the Dog: Quite literally, if you do anything listed under Video Game Cruelty Potential below to the dogs.
- Level Editor: 4 and 5 have a surprisingly detailed editor for making custom playscenes, using image files on your computer and the game's internal library of sound effects and other miscellaneous options.
- Shout-Out: In the temple playscene in Petz 4, there is an Indiana Jones mutt, simply named Jones. The Catz host for the Wild West scene is named after Wyatt Earp. The circus has a cat named after James Anthony Bailey.
- Simulation Game
- Stock Animal Name: The default adoption names.
- Video Game Caring Potential
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Spray Bottle. Jack o' Lantern. Watering Can. Snowballs. Setting a pet on a pillow, waiting for the pet to fall asleep, and then yanking the pillow out from under them. The list goes on. You can also choose to pick up and dangle a pet for as long as you want.
- Aside from being bad to your petz, you can torment the mice. Their screams are cute. And the mice can't actually die - except in Catz 1, in which they can be bloodlessly swallowed in one gulp.
- Video Game Perversity Potential: The occasional 'anatomically correct' Dogz some people hex. Most notably male dogz, but there is at least one instance of a female one.
- What the Hell, Player?: Beginning with Petz II, abused or neglected Petz can run away and never be played with again. They will have a "Runaway" tag on their icon, and if you attempt to play with them, the game will scold you for abusing or neglecting them and remind you to take better care of your Petz in the future.
- Wide-Open Sandbox: And how. With hexing, you can mess with spots (paintballz) and made fantastically designed Petz, or if you're more of a mad scientist, you can turn dogz and catz into anything from Pokemon, to fish, to horses, to dragons, and to just about anything (including specific, separate breeds if you want them to breed true or have color variations). Some people have also made breedz specifically designed for showing (getting your petz to pose in a certain way and taking a picture of it, it's a bit hard to explain) which are incredibly play-unfriendly and move like tables.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Duh.