After having a chance to learn more about EA / Playfish's newest iPhone game - Pet Society Vacation - at this year's E3, you could say that I was just a bit excited about taking my pet on a tropical journey in the palm of my hand (via my iPhone, of course!). This week, my wait was ended (and yours too, friends), as Pet Society: Vacation has officially launched on iPhone, for free!
Upon downloading the app, you'll have to immediately connect to Facebook (so that your Facebook pet can make the journey over), and will then have to sit through a short downloading process as your game is updated for you personally. Depending on your level in the Facebook version of Pet Society, you'll be entitled to various rewards when playing for the first time. For instance, I received 2,500 Seashells (this expansion's free currency), and a golden statue of the Mayor.
It should be noted that while your pet will be carried over from the Facebook version, your outfit and accessories will not, as your pet may be given a tropical skirt and bikini top, for instance, if it's female. You'll be given a House Boat, which functions as your home away from home while playing in the expansion. Aside from granting you bonuses upon your initial login, however, your Facebook level doesn't carry over here, and you'll start from Level 1.
After being run through a general tutorial, you'll learn that many of the Facebook game's elements have been carried over here. You can visit various shops to buy new furniture for your House Boat, food to feed your pet (and keep up its energy level), and even use soap to wash it off. As you level up, you'll unlock new rooms in your House Boat, with the second room coming early at just Level 2. It looks like we'll eventually have the ability to have 14 rooms.
In terms of entirely new features, the biggest example is the Scuba Diving mini game that will allow you to earn bonus Seashells and treasure items (items that you may not be able to purchase in the store). To play the game, you'll tap on your screen in the direction you'd like your pet to swim, and will be able to swim for as long as your oxygen holds out. You have a single tank to go on each time you dive, though you can increase your maximum possible diving time by purchasing items for Pearls, the game's premium currency. To start, you're given three oxygen tanks, but more will automatically replenish over time, giving you something to look forward to every few hours.
In terms of social features, you can probably guess what to expect. You can visit your Facebook friends that also have Pet Society: Vacation, and can have your pet perform an action with their pet, like dancing. And when it comes time to head back into the Facebook version of the game, you'll be happy to know that everything will be there, right where you left it, even down to your pet's original clothing. That being said, you won't be able to take any of your Vacation items back to Facebook with you either, so you can think of this iPhone app as a true second home, as you'll leave everything you need to survive on vacation there when you leave.
All told, the only truly disappointing aspect about Pet Society: Vacation is that it's supported by ads, with these ads appearing on the game's map and sometimes on the Scuba Diving menu (not in the mini-game itself, at least that I noticed). I guess that's the "price" we pay, however, for such a free experience. According to some in-game text, we see that new items should be added to the game's store at least every few weeks (if not more often), so at least Playfish looks to have a system in place for eventually updating the app. Perhaps we'll get lucky, and the removal of these ads will come with one (or at least, an option to turn them off by paying Seashells/Peals).
Again, Pet Society: Vacation is now available on the iTunes App Store as a free download. If you'd like to go on a summer vacation with your pet on your phone, make sure to give this one a shot.
Have you tried Pet Society: Vacation for iPhone? What do you think of the way the game connects (and doesn't) to your Facebook gaming experience? Sound off in the comments.