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MySims Kingdom Package Art
GENRE
Adventure
DEVELOPER
Electronic Arts
PUBLISHER
EA Redwood
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
No
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MySims Kingdom

The MySims franchise has entered its second year of providing a more approachable Sims experience on Nintendo systems, and while the latest Wii iteration proved worthy of Nintendojo’s praise, the handheld version is not so fortuitous. MySims Kingdom for DS is devoid of much of the charm and addictive design expected from a Sims title. Many core aspects of the game are executed well enough but actually playing the title is a flat and uninspired experience; the dull world and unrewarding gameplay make the whole thing feel pointless.

visuals

MySims Kingdom runs on a strong 3D engine that pushes a respectable number of polygons and creates a bright world. Unfortunately, the artists chose not to push the engine. Everything about the world looks the same, from the top of a supposedly snowcapped mountain to the heart of the less-than-bustling town. At least some of the build-able decorations possess a decent amount of much-needed variety that can be added to the customizable kingdom.

Another aesthetic issue facing Kingdom is the character rendering. While the series artwork goes for a more humanized Animal Crossing look, the characters look downright weird when it comes to in-game execution. Imagine the characters from Phantom Hourglass, except with half the level of detail, half the animations, and faces that fail to be expressive. That's what you get with MySims Kingdom.

audio

If variety is the spice of life, then audio is in desperate need of flavor. The different times of day each have their own tune and that is all there is for music. The constant repetition quickly becomes tiresome and the sound effects offer no reason not to mute the system.

gameplay

MySims Kingdom starts with a simple yet quirky premise: a mysterious stranger has wandered into town and removed many of the buildings and decorations that made it such an appealing place for Sims to live in. The King and mayor, worried about the town's future, task the main character with restoring the town’s infrastructure and finding the culprit. Making the town a happy place once again involves two things -- rebuilding and helping out the townsfolk. Both offer uninteresting gameplay.

Rebuilding the town is done by using an Extractor, a gun like item that sucks the essences out of buildings, trees, flowerbeds, benches, and other objects in the world. Each item will offer one of a variety of essences, ranging from fire to heart. Essences are then combined in the Synth-O-tron to create an item to be placed anywhere you want in town. Specific buildings require blueprints that list the specific essences needed to construct it. By building new homes and decorating the town, the area will become more appealing and more Sims will move in. The process is made needlessly slow by the fact that players are limited in the number of essences they can collect in one day. Moreover, most of the items that can be created are not that exciting.

Helping out the townsfolk is not only the key to unlocking new blueprints and earning money, but it is also the main way for progressing the story. Moving the game along often requires providing a specific item to an NPC and the only way to get that item is to help out another NPC, often by competing in any number of mingames (ranging from the fun Ghost Blaster to the broken kayak race) or by creating a new decoration. Ultimately, it all boils down to the slow process of running from one end of town to the other ad nauseam in a seemingly endless series of fetch quests. The fact that everything about the game moves at a snail’s pace does little to help the situation.

MySims Kingdom’s primary strength is its writing, but even that can be hit or miss. Some characters are genuinely funny, such as the hilariously insane Dr. F, but most are surprisingly devoid of any real charm, something games like this live or die by. Then again, these flat characters go hand-in-hand with the uninteresting setting and boring story.

Finally, for a game with “Sims” in the title, Kingdoms is surprisingly light on the customization. While players can add, remove, and change around buildings and decorations, there is very little you can do to make the world really feel your own. Houses are all based on pre-existing designs and the only personal touch comes from choosing and arranging the furniture. Your character is customizable as well, but the changes you make, aside from hair and skin color, are too small to be noticed on the screen.

multiplayer

Local multiplayer allows for head-to-head competitions in Kingdom’s minigames, but sharing the experience does not make the bad minigames better and most of the good minigames really do not translate well to a more competitive design.

overall

MySims Kingdom for DS ultimately fails because it never really lends itself to any one solid gameplay philosophy. As an adventure game, it is sorely lacking in story and character development. As a social game, it never establishes an interesting setting or meaningful connections with in-game characters. As a Sim game, it fails to offer compelling customization features. The final product actually works fine when it comes to the core mechanics but that matters little when the game design is so uninteresting. MySims Kingdom has few compelling features that simply playing the game becomes a chore and is downright boring.

final score 5.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Andy Hoover
Staff Profile | Email
"There's SAND on my boots!"


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