Seikatsu: A Pet’s Life – Breaks the Cute-o-Meter, But Is It Good?

Seikatsu: A Pet’s Life – Breaks the Cute-o-Meter, But Is It Good?

April 7, 2020 0 By Ryan Sanders

Ryan reviews at Seikatsu: A Pet’s Life from IDW games.

Seikatsu: A Pet’s Life

1-4 Players| Ages 10+ | Published by IDW Games | Designed by Matt Loomis & Isaac Shalev

Seikatsu: A Pet’s Life is a straight retheme of IDW’s 2017 Seikatsu, with the cute theme that will break just about anyone’s cute-o-meter. In the game, players will be placing pets (specifically cats, dogs, turtles and bunnies) onto the living room board. Each pet also has a pillow color (the color of tile – the pillows are colored green, lavender, light blue, and yellow), each combo pet/pillow color happens twice in the game. There are also 4 white unicorns that act as wilds in the game. Gameplay itself is super simple. Each player will have 2 tiles, they place one of them on the board so it’s next to an adjacent already placed tile, and then they draw back up. This goes on until all tiles are placed and the game goes end game scoring. Scoring happens two ways – in-game scoring deals just with the pet type that is layed down. This happens when the game is in play, when you place the tile, if it next to another animal of the same type you will score a point (i.e. I play a dog next to two other dog tiles, i will score 3 points, 1 for the just placed and 1 each for the ones next to it). End of game scoring, after all tiles have been placed, looks just at the pillow (tile/background) color. Each player from where they sit, their perspective, have 7 unique rows that they will sore. They look down each of those rows and score the largest pillow set in that row. For example, if I have 2 blue pillows and 3 pink pillows in the 2nd row. I will score the 3 pink pillows I will score 6 points  (pillows use a triangle scoring system). The player with the highest total wins. 

As mentioned above, if you already own Seikatsu, you have played A Pet’s Life. The only difference is it uses pets instead of birds (unicorns instead of koi for wild), and the tiles in the game are various colors (instead of all white tiles like the original game). The colored tiles will make it easier to read the board not only at the end of the game, but even in-game when figuring out what may be left (okay 1 of the 2 green turtles is out on the board, my opponents does not have any green tiles, so it must still be in the bag). It also means that the wild stands out – if you see someone draw white – you know they have a wild.  Of course at it nears the end of the game, you may be able to figure out there is only 2 yellows left (if you are paying close attention), and my opponent as one of them, so it must be X or Y (which is something you couldn’t do wit the original game, as the tiles are all the same color). 

A few things should be mentioned about the box. It says 1-4 however, with 4 players as a partnership, the game is really made for 2 and 3 players.. Also the box says 10+, but I would say the age could be lowered to ages 8+.  Matching animals is easy to understand and much lower age can handle that. It’s the planning for end game scoring that is the hardest part from them to grasp. The idea of scoring from your perspective and wanting to have as many of the same color tiles in the given rows (whatever your scoring rows will be).  Maybe I don’t want to score 3 here, because if I place this over here, I will get more points at the end of the game

Gameschool Aspect

Seikatsu: A Pet’s Life may be super cute, but it also teaches/reinforces things like:

  • planning ahead (with end game scoring)
  • pattern recognition/building (with matching animals)
  • arithmetic thinking (with trying to figure out how where to place tile and how will help you the most as in-game or end of game scoring)
  • process of elimination (with figuring out what is left in the bag)

In the end, Seikatsu: A Pet’s Life, is a great example of a non-perfect information abstract game (like Dominoes or Ingenious) – by that I mean, there is some luck involved (as opposed to non-luck abstract games like Chess or Checkers) with what you draw, but you still have to use your  brains to score the most points with what you have. When is it best to block an opponent from scoring points by placing a non-matching pet? When do I go for pet points by matching during the game or balance that by playing pillows for bigger points at the end of the game? When do I try to stop my opponent from getting big pillow points by placing non-matching colors in their rows, but also balance scoring for myself? For a simple game – place a tile, draw a tile type of game – there is quite a bit going on as you can see. The use of perspective is neat and something different from most games out there (or likely in most readers collections). While the Lantern series from Foxtrot Games used perspective first, Seikatsu uses it in a different manner for end game scoring. 

Example of how red player scores and blue player scores at end of game from their given perspectives.

 For anyone looking for a simple to teach, slight luck filled abstract (for fans of games like Qwirkle or Ingenious) Seikatsu is a great one to pick up. As to which version, though I like the bird theme and art of the original (which I only seen in pictures and may be easier to get grown ups to take more seriously), A Pet’s Life has the colored tiles that make end of game scoring (and in-game strategizing) a little easier (again Pet’s Life is  the only version I have played, but looking at colored tiles versus all white with little different colored flowers, it not hard to image which will read easier). On top of that, if you have kids (or spouse) that are into cute animals or unicorns, then it’s an easier choice between the two. 

Both Seikatsu and Seikatsu: A Pet’s Life are out now. 

Thanks to IDW for sending a copy of A Pet’s Life for an honest review. 

Ryan Sanders is the founder, owner, and editor-at-large of Adventures in Gameschooling. He’s also the guy behind its social media accounts. God has blessed Ryan and his wife Mary, with five children, which he homeschools. As a Christian, he believes that he should not only look out for your own interests but other peoples too (Philippians 2:4) and this is one of his guiding principles for Adventures in Gameschooling. Ryan’s expertise is informed by almost two decades of experience as a stay-at-home father and from the running The Inquisitive Meeple where he performed over 300 written and podcast interviews within the board game industry.