Developer: EA Redwood Shores
When you first start your adventures in My Sims, I’m reminded of Animal Crossing: arriving to a struggling town, moving in, and helping the mayor make it the best town ever. Sound familiar? Well the similarities mostly end there. The premise of this game isn’t sinking all your bells into a big black hole in order to upgrade your house and upgrade all the venues; the goal is to build nice homes and businesses for your Sims and make the town a five-star town. To do that, you must cater to heir interests while following the specifications they’ve set. This is mostly a furniture designing game even though you do build houses.
One of the first things you do is name your town and create your own cute little chibi-Sim. It’s what you would expect with hair, clothing, and the like, and it starts with a decent selection of choices. Later on, you can move in Sims that will grant you more customisation options for yourself, as well as the ability to customise the Sims living in your town.
Afters, you will design your house and workshop using the game’s build interface and using the various shapes and accessories to create whatever it is you’re trying to make. As you move in more Sims and businesses more shapes and accessories will be available to you. Also, by helping out your Sims and becoming best friends, you’ll unlock more blueprints and personlisation options like outfits.
So what is there to do besides making furniture and building houses? Well, the furniture you make will have certain essence requirements which must be met. Essences are collected as items which grow on trees, stuff you catch while fishing, what you dig up from prospecting, and also from interacting with your Sims. Plenty of time will be spent scouring the world for the essences you need in order to complete tasks for you Sims, but they can be collected very quickly once you find where they come from, but most of the game will be spent in an editor. As your town increases in starts, you will gain access to new areas which will contain new essences for you to collect as well as attract new Sims.
Another point worth mentioning is the size of your town. You begin with only a certain number of plots to move in your sims. You’ll later unlock town expansions which give you access to a Japanese forested area and a desert with interesting ruins, but once you’ve used up all those plots, you can’t move anyone else in. You have to kick someone out. You can always get that person back, though. After reaching a five-star town, you can try to attract special Sims to move in. To do so, you have to make your town maxed out in a particular interest. With 80 different Sims, there’s a lot of content to unlock by helping them all and maxing out your relationship. However, that’s a bit too grindy on the whole buildy side and I don’t have the patience to go for that kind of completion or to have a town with all the special uber Sims.
The essential controls for the game are very fluid and simple. You move around with the thumbstick, control the camera angle with the D-pad, and use the A button to interact with stuff, except for when you’re shaking trees. The same can’t be said for the build modes, which are functional enough, but not without a few annoyances. The camera views can be a bit of a hinderance when working on tall things. Often times the top will be cut off and you’re stuck hoping snap-to will save you. It can also be a pain when working on something complex and you’ll find most times the little block you’re trying to place in a specific area just won’t seem to go there, even using slide-under mode. I also had problems painting tiny blocks and always painted the wrong one. The block I wanted would be highlighted, as in, my cursor is aiming at it, but when I’d press the A button, my aim would change. I think one of the nunchuck buttons should have been used for that instead, because I had a lot of problems with this. I couldn’t keep the Wiimote still while pushing the button. I had to use my other arm as a stabiliser, which didn’t always work.
Visually, the game is very cute and I prefer this chibi look to the usual more realistic designs the Sims series use. I’d much rather see a full blown Sims game in this style than what exists today.
Another nice touch is the variety of music in the game. Each business has it’s own style which you hear when you’re near the building and when you’re inside. For regular residents, the music is based on interest. They’re very nice and cute in sound, what you’d expect, but the tracks for editing get really repetitive and it’s quite noticeable when it ends and then starts up again. I’m not sure why it bothers me, but it really did in this game.
Overall, it’s not a bad game, but difficult to play for long periods because of how narrow the game-play experience is. You really do just gather essence and build. Improving your relationship with other Sims is done as easily as modifying their house. You don’t have to interact with them in the wild, as it were. Because of this, it can get rather tiring and frustrating battling with the editor controls. Some expanded development would have been nice and a bit more depth to improving relationships beyond the whole house thing.