MySims (Nintendo DS) Review

By Mike Mason 03.10.2007

It's been great to see EA change their strategy in the last year or so. Rather than going through the same-old, same-old, they've been innovating and switching things around in a way that other third parties seem scared to do, particularly in regards to Wii. MySims was the latest in this line of development; a Sims game specifically built for Wii. But wait! They also created a version for DS, which has not received quite as much attention. How does it hold up to its big brother?

We all know The Sims series and love/despise it, depending on how much we enjoy controlling (or destroying) tiny virtual peoples' lives. Previous console versions, however, have left something to be desired and haven't stood up to the full and proper PC versions, with console owners being lumbered with things like The Sims 2: Pets. However, from the new tactics bubbling within EA, MySims appeared, tailored especially for Nintendo formats to take advantage of the features of Wii and DS. Here we focus on the DS version, which EA chose to develop as an Animal Crossing-a-like, albeit without the animals.

As in Animal Crossing, you enter the town with nothing and nobody. You choose the name of your town, your character's name and customize how you look, and away you go. Unlike Animal Crossing, though, when you move into your new life here there are no mortgages to pay, with how to decorate your new abode being the only thing you've got to worry about. Well, that and the fact that your new house is about half a mile down the road from the rest of the community, perhaps as a subtle reminder that you'll always be an outsider to the townsfolk – or perhaps we're reading too much into it. Nonetheless, if you could imagine a more child-friendly version of the Nintendo franchise, this is it. The entire purpose is to rebuild the community of a town that has had better times by keeping tourists happy (and hopefully encouraging more to visit), helping out the local economy and generally making everybody jolly.

Technically, MySims DS is very sound. It has visuals that take advantage of the DS to a satisfying degree, using a similar art style to the Wii version (though not quite as clean and clear, for obvious reasons). The positioning of the viewpoint through which you play the game is a little too close to the characters, but it's nothing game-ruining. The inventory screens look like they were taken right from Animal Crossing. The sound is pretty nice, with cute little voice clips babbling typical Simmish nonsense and music that suits the series well playing throughout. It controls well, with a similar scheme to Animal Crossing: Wild World; you move by touching where you want to go and control your speed by the distance you hold the stylus away from your character, and interact with objects by moving close to them and tapping them. To activate the map and items such as the camera, you click icons tidily arranged in the corners of the touch screen. You can also use the buttons instead if you are so inclined. The top screen handles the map and also tells you what time of day it is (there are four states).

It is sad, then, that for all the effort that appears to have gone into the presentation and ensuring that the controls are up to par, the core of the game itself got muddled up. It is your job to try to recruit new citizens to the town and look after the existing ones (quite why you're doing this, as soon as you arrive as a newcomer yourself, we'll never know, but we do know that it's pretty unfair when the mayor is just standing about in her office all day), but there are not really many ways of doing this. Helping out the shop owners basically equates to spending all your money in their shops repeatedly on things that you do not especially want (resulting in us having half our inventory full of shortcake bought from the baker). Money is easy to come by (you get some for practically everything that you do, including talking to people), but to have the only way to improve shop owners' mood by buying things yourself seems silly. Why is it not possible to take a few of their products as samples, pass them out to other members of the town and enlist them as potential customers, also?

Cheering up tourists involves going into a conversation mini-game. Several icons appear along the bottom of the touch screen showing conversational acts – encouraging, crying, comforting, laughing, listening, for example, and the player must click which of these they find most appropriate in a combination to max out a metre. If you do, the tourist will be happy. If you don't, the tourist will sulk and not speak to you for a while. We've not really seen any proper effects from whether you fail with tourists or not, but we assume it makes your town ranking grow and makes more tourists turn up. The conversation mini-game is quite smart - the game offers musical clues and visual clues in the tourist Sims' body language to tell you which act needs to be carried out, once you have learnt to read the clues. Despite its cleverness, though, it does begin to get dull quite rapidly as there is a lack of variation in it overall.

The best parts of MySims DS are easily the mini-games that appear throughout, such as the racquet ball game, and fishing (complete with musical bobs that attract fish). These help to break up the monotony of the rest of the game, which is mainly spent wandering aimlessly, finding people to talk to and attempting to offload your unwanted cakes/flowers/whatever else you've had to buy on them. In even worse times, we had no idea what we were supposed to be doing to progress the game and magically got through by resorting to buying lots of stock we didn't need. It's a shame that there weren't a few more mini-games to brighten things up, or preferably tighter gameplay for the main areas with more obvious aims and goals. Another thing that isn't taken advantage of fully is the different times of day and different days of the week. Characters appear in different places at certain times of day and specific days of the week, but they always seem to be saying near enough the same thing and not doing a variety of activities or speaking about different subjects as you might expect.

While MySims DS is clearly after the Animal Crossing sector of the DS market, it falls short. Animal Crossing somehow made doing nothing feel addictive and like you were doing something; conversely, MySims often makes doing nothing feel like a chore. It does have its moments of goodness – it does feel great when you know what you're doing and you're doing something other than wandering around blindly, and the characters are quite good if limited in their roles (also a good thing to note is that the characters in the DS version are directly related to characters from the Wii version, so we liked that effort has been made to connect the two). With more time and more events placed into the game to liven things up, this could have rivalled Animal Crossing, as it clearly is about equal to it in terms of technical prowess, but the complete lack of variety lets it down. If you're going to get a copy of MySims, go for the Wii version.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


MySims DS is not a bad game – it simply suffers from lack of content. It's a shame, as there are glimmers of what it could have been in the decent mini-games and clever ideas such as the conversation system, but as it is there just isn't enough there to keep you coming back. Like us, you'll probably enjoy what's there, but there's only so much that can be done before the experience becomes bland. We only wish it'd had some more time to blossom into a fuller game before release.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (4 Votes)

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