Wajas may not be the first pet breeding sim on the internet, but it’s definitely the one that comes to mind when the topic is mentioned. Wajas began as a Gaia-style signature pet on horse breeding sim PonyIsland, and has since expanded to a few hundred-thousand users.
Wajas are dog or wolf-like breedable pets. There are several unique breeds, available in dozens of markings and any hexadecimal color imaginable. Once you breed a Waja, the pups can be sold for profit, or you can simply keep them all in your private “cave.”
THINGS TO DO: 3/5
If you’ve never played a breeding simulation before, you may be confused at first. You start Wajas with nothing: No pets, no money, and no items. It’s very easy to get your first Waja, though, and several games are free to play and can give you your first few Waja Credits (WC).
Breeding sims are identified by their open-ended sandbox-style play. Players set their own goals, and can go about reaching them however they’d like. There’s no “winning” or “losing” in Wajas, although some standards are considered higher than others.
Predominately, the site revolves around breeding Wajas. You can either breed your own pets together, or breed your pet to someone else’s; you then have the option of selling the offspring for profit, or adding them to your breeding program. You can also spend real-life cash on custom Wajas, whose appearance you can customize with the colors of your choice and a combination of any of the available markings. Custom Wajas and their offspring are highly-coveted on the site, and many people make their living by purchasing customs and selling “second generation” offspring.
In addition to breeding Wajas, you can also collect items to dress up your pets; many items are limited edition, lending a collectibility factor to the game. There are a handful of games on the site as well, but they’re pretty basic and boring: The games are designed as money-makers, not as an attraction.
ART & AESTHETIC: 4/5
Wajas art is some of the best in the genre. The art is simple, but clean, and the shading template looks good with all colors and patterns. There’s enough variety in the Wajas art to appeal to a wide spectrum of players, from the fluffy and adorable Spitz breed to the snarling, bat-winged Bane.
The overall look of the site is clean and professional, too. It does run a few ads, but they’re unobtrusive and blend in well with the layouts. If you’d like, you can even choose among several different layouts.
PLAYABILITY AND EASE OF ACCESS: 3/5
While a common goal of the game is to breed low-generation wajas with bright, clear colors and markings and sell them, you can choose to breed nearly anything. Popular off-beat personal quests include breeding “monsters” (wajas with a tremendous amount of markings/mutations), wajas that match various real-life animals (foxes, birds, etc.), wajas with certain color schemes, etc. People also challenge themselves to collect huge numbers of a certain item, or all the items in a given set. Pretty much any goal you can set for yourself, you have the freedom to accomplish, so the game grows with you in difficulty as you become a more experienced player, allowing it to maintain your interest.
There are some problems with the site’s economy that put a damper on the playing experience, however. After third generation, wajas become effectively worthless in the market — and unless you’re paying with real money, it’s also pretty much impossible to make a profit in WC from selling low-gens, either, considering the WC cost of the site’s donation currency (CWP). Right now, the most common complaint in the game is that (with a few exceptions) most wajas are barely worth more than the cost to breed them, and there is very little demand for them.
The item-selling economy is solid, however, due to the high volume of value-appreciating limited edition items. If you’re patient and know what to look for, it’s easy to become a millionaire on the game simply by purchasing limited edition items when they’re released and forgetting them for months or years until their value has matured. It’s also extremely easy to make money on the site by purchasing the donation-currency (CWP) and selling that to other users; CWP values inflate at an astronomical rate.
Wajas also allows for alternative forms of income: you can sell art commissions for WC or CWP to other users, and even trade your currency and items for currency on other sites (so long as the other site allows such trading). This form of “outsider trading” can become something of a mini-game all to its own; breeding sim players tend to play multiple different sims, and it’s not uncommon for players to accrue wealth on one site and trade it to another in order to take advantage of a favorable exchange.
FUN FACTOR: 3/5
Wajas is, at times, extremely addictive. Unfortunately, it also gets boring very fast. Once you reach a goal, it’s often hard to come up with a new one; also, due to the fluctuations in the economy, goals are often far too easy to reach, or completely impossible. Finding a satisfying middle ground can be a challenge.
Also, despite the open-ended type of play, the general site culture suggests that there is only one way to play the game, and anyone who falls into the “Wajas counterculture” can expect derision from other players. Of course, because of the way the site is currently designed, it’s actually possible to play in complete isolation from other players, so this may never be an issue for many players.
The Wajas community is hit-or-miss. On the one hand, members are very knowledgeable and keen to share that knowledge. They can also be extremely friendly and willing to help out with new players, or even provide generous gifts to other members of the community.
On the other hand, Wajas players are notoriously judgmental, and prone to accuse other players of “ruining the game” for playing in a way that doesn’t line up with their goals. For example, people who make their living by selling low-generation Wajas routinely complain about “poor quality” high-generation pups clogging sales and tanking the economy, while other breeders often complain that there is no market for their pups do the the poorly thought-out economy. Neither side ever wins these debates, but they come up frequently and often cause a lot of hurt feelings.
Additionally, site moderation can be a bit spotty. Wajas isn’t quite as bad as Neopets about limiting chat topics, but it does follow a similar vein: Any topic that has even the slightest chance of upsetting someone will be instantly shut down by the mods. This means that even passing references to politics or religion will be locked or at least moved to the “debate” forum, regardless of the actual content of the message.
Wajas remains, in many ways, the “gold standard” against which all other breeding sims are compared. Despite the site’s several issues and unstable economy, the site can be genuinely fun in short bursts, providing a place to spend a few hours a week and then neglect while tending to your real life responsibilities.
The best part about Wajas is that the size of the site and the damaged economy actually make it possible to play in complete isolation, unlike other sites that require interaction with other players to meet your goals.