Mulder & Scully
This 6 button pet allows you to set the time, chose the sex and off you go.
What we found most interesting was the linking of the two pets. Not only do they play games, put over time (and more linking) they become friends, lovers, have a wedding, and finally they can mate and the female will bear a kitten! Another neat feature is the pets actually grow in size on the screen as they mature.
The "system" understands that pets have to be a certain age (5 years to marry), will not marry pets of the same sex, and only the females become pregnant. It takes 4 days after becoming pregnant to have a kitten. We think this is pretty remarkable for a game that was just a "peeping" chicken a 10 months ago.
The two buttons that look like the pet's eyes handle the linking and the lights. The bottom three buttons perform most of the normal functions and the mute button is on the back.
COMMENTS AFTER USING THE PETS:
I found the pets to be well constructed, colorful, interesting, and really liked the linking feature. The screen has good resolution and the movements of the pet appear very natural. Originally I had a bit of trouble seeing and figuring out the some small symbols and icons at the top and bottom of the display that didn't seem too logical (I've been staring at one of these big monitors too long). I moved to a room with better lighting and the excellent instructions (printed in English) got me going pretty fast. Now I am comfortable with the small icons.
My big fingers also seemed to have a little problem getting the buttons to engage each time I pushed them. The nice beeping feature that tells you if you have engaged a button helped me operate the pets more positively. I think children size fingers would find depressing the buttons easier than I did. The button do have a nice "feel" to them.
An indicator on the status of the "link" and "unlink" buttons would be helpful. Perhaps there could be two different sounds for when the link was actually "started and made" or "started to break and broken"? Or a small icon indicating its status?
There are two different methods for linking, one is for "appointments" for becoming friends, lovers, wedding, pregnant. It was quite straight forward and I was successful the first try. The second method is for playing games (a tennis like game). The instructions could be a little improved for the second method. They tell you to connect the cable and on one of the pets "Press the 'Link_line' key for 3 seconds to link up." Do you hold it for 3 seconds or just press it and wait 3 seconds? (the answer is press it (release it) and wait for 3 seconds). I also found that after that you had completed the link you still had to select "game" and press enter. The "select game and press enter" part was not in the instructions.
About the basic tennis game itself, I was a while understanding what was really going on. The bottom of the screen is just the top of the cat's head. Its ears are the edges of the racket. The top of the screen has a sideways floating "gate". If you position the "gate" where the ball is going to hit, the ball goes through the "gate" and over to the other pet. I think the instructions could have explained this a little better.
I realize this is a bit ""picky" as many of the pets come with instructions in Japanese or no instructions at all. I did find the remainder of the instructions very helpful and very well done.
The instructions describe the sound as "It will call you in a lovely sound 'Mau! Mau!." The sound is fairly realistic. I had the pets stuffed down in a box and at first I thought it was some injured cat outside. Then when I could tell it wasn't quite real, I thought it was a mocking bird. We have a mocking bird in our area that plays with a neighborhood cat and I thought he was mocking the cat. Finally I figured out it was Mulder & Scully. After quite a while the "kitty call" sound began to "bug" me (I am an adult, not a kid). It does have a one hour mute button.
It would be nice for folks like me (and school kids) if it had a pause function or someplace you could check it into to take care of it. Maybe a pet day care center option? Maybe the mute button could give you an "hour" for each push? This could give you some time away from the pet as well as quiet it down when you either couldn't or didn't want to tend to it.
It would be nice if it could display the time. It is already keeping track of it.
The instructions say nothing about the batteries or changing them. My pets worked fine. Many other pets come with "demonstration" or "shipping" batteries that need replaced soon after purchase. Mulder & Scully's batteries worked fine. I did get out my jeweler's screwdriver and remove the battery cover. I found 3 of the standard sized virtual pet batteries instead of the normal 2. Perhaps this is due to the linking feature going through the cable or maybe it is to make the batteries last a long time and not need replacing. If the batteries ever do need replacement, you will find it mildly challenging if your fingers are as big as mine. The very small screws are easy to loose and you may not have a screwdriver that small. The batteries all go in the same - each has the large diameter of the button up toward you as you prepare to close the cover.
We encourage manufacturers to establish a support page, post their instructions there, offer responses to frequently asked questions, offering visitors an opportunity to post or ask questions, and generally support their users. Very few manufacturers are doing this. Parex prints a URL on the Mulder and & Scully's instructions (a great idea), but the page was either not yet operational or not functional when we tried to retrieve it. I realize it is a new pet and these things take time, but we encourage them to continue their efforts in this area.
These are really great pets. It seems like the names Mulder & Scully could be a bit "zippier." By giving the pets names they avoid having to provide the alphabet selection naming process some pet have, which is fine with me. I don't like giving them names anyway. The packaging has both names on it. I'm not sure which pet is which? Maybe the pet is supposed to be both - Mulder when it is a female and Scully when it is a male? This is a pretty weak criticism when some manufacturer's pets fall out of the boxes in pieces, but it seems like top notch virtual pets like these could have better names?
Several readers have suggested the names were chosen from characters in the popular TV show, The X-Files. Other readers have suggested the reason they were never brought to the U.S. was copyright problems over the names coming from The X-Files. I personally do not think the names were chosen from the show because the names are the only link to the show. The "game" seems to have nothing to do with it, additionally the shape of the cases and the packaging does not tie to the show. If they were trying to "pirate" the characters they could have done a much better job, but who knows?
I found them to be great virtual pets. I liked the general look, feel, and ruggedness of construction. Perhaps the cases might be a bit "cutesy" for boys? I like realism in the pets. Except for the "tennis game" all the other actions and functions were very realistic for a cat. Perhaps they could change to "chase the catnip" or "chase the roll of twine" or "chase the butterfly" to make the "game" fit in with the realisticness of the pet?
I usually recommend a very basic pet for first time purchasers, but with the excellent instructions, beginners will be able to handle this pet if they want to give it a try. The experienced virtual pet enthusiasts will find this Mulder & Scully very interesting. The pet includes several of the latest features and the "link" function adds a whole new dimension to the game. I am excited to see linked pets put to something other than fighting. Hopefully, more pets will begin to use this feature in additional applications.
Maybe we will see this linkable pet concept expanded into a series of pets by Parex?
Congratulation to Parex for a job will done, and thanks again for the samples.
Additionally we have heard from a few individuals who have purchased the pets direct from Parex. They are complaining about the clocks not operating properly (keep very poor time which "messes up" the daily cycle of the pets) and also about the pets being frequently reset accidentally. I am not sure if they are hitting the reset button by accident as they carry the pet around or if the pet itself is resetting on its own. At any rate, if one purchases a pet directly from another country and you are not happy with it, it is very difficult to return or fix.
We thought the pets were great when we reviewed them (Parex shipped them to us on 2 Sept. 1997). They were among the first linking pets, now many other linking pets are directly available in the U.S., and in our opinion would be far better choices for beginning virtual pet enthusiasts. We still like Mulder and Scully and wonder why they never obtained distribution in the U.S. Changes are so rapid in this industry, they are already behind the more recent linking pets and seem to have missed their opportunity for major sales in the U.S.
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