Where is My Telephone Shoe?
As far as casual franchises are concerned, one of my absolute favorites has to be MySims. This cutesy take on the classic Sims formula features construction, directed character development, and plenty of Simlish. Even the most recent MySims outing, MySims Racing, contained elements of its predecessors and was a good title on the Wii. Since I had enjoyed the three previous iterations on the Wii, I figured my experience with MySims Agents would be similar, even though I was assigned the DS version. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The setup in MySims Agents is nearly identical to any other MySims game. You start off with a blank slate Sim which you can customize with different facial features, hair, and outfits. Once you finalize the design of your MySim, the game then introduces you to the world of MySims Agents. In this world, highly trained agents are sent out to investigate crimes around the world and to use their prowess as a secret agent to gather clues and solve mysteries. In this instance, a town has been terrorized by a local thief known only by the codename V. This evildoer is after the town’s special treasure, and they are desperate to stop him before he gets to it.
But like in traditional spy flicks, there is a twist: the residents of this town don’t even know where their special treasure is. To further complicate matters, this V character is a master of disguise and can pose as your agent’s doppelganger to fool townspeople in to thinking that they are talking to you. The story has all the makings of a very cute take on the spy genre, and there are plenty of memorable characters that your agent can interact with.
The gameplay involves several components, and there are plenty of things to do in the world of MySims. The story is mainly driven by mini-games that allow you to use your arsenal of gadgets to track the nefarious V. However, these mini-games represent the biggest shortcoming of MySims Agents due to the controls. A good example is the first mini-game you play, which allows you use a radar detector to find underground traps. Simply pressing the radar button will show you where all the traps are, and it will be your job to remember where they are and then excise them using another gadget. When you walk up to an area where a trap is, you can either press a button or use the stylus to engage the excising tool. However, at this point your character will turn around randomly (for no real reason) and will either hit the trap or miss it. These turns can range from a short ten degrees to the left to an almost complete circle, and they will severely hamper your ability to find the traps. This mini-game gets frustrating fast because of this, and unfortunately, this trend of poorly controlled mini-games continues throughout the title.
However, if you can grit your teeth and bear the mini-games portion (which, unfortunately, is mandatory for advancement), there are actually plenty of fun side-quests and extra missions you can complete. Like all other MySims titles, there is a heavy focus on construction. Although it might seem weird that a secret agent would be wandering around the countryside gathering essences and materials to build new houses and furniture, somehow it really works in MySims Agents. Agents also injects a little bit of Animal Crossing into the mix by allowing your character access to certain shops during limited times during the day. You’ll have to balance both your investigative efforts (which include the horrendous mini-games mentioned above) with your design ideas for the town. The construction element is very polished in MySims Agents. Had that been the sole focus of the game, it would have been much better.
The visuals in MySims Agents are fairly good and feature plenty of color. The signature MySims characters are all out in full-force. You’ll see so many cute bobble-headed characters that you may feel as though your own head will explode. Despite the game’s signature cutesy style, there are several issues permeating the graphics. First of all, there is an extraordinary amount of jagged lines permeating the landscape and character models. Although I don’t expect perfection from my DS visuals, the amount of jaggies in this title really did distract from the action and was certainly grating on the eyes.
Another technical issue with the game came in the form of the way it displays objects. Your secondary mission, sprucing up the town, is severely hampered by the game’s inability to render very many objects in the DS game, which makes it so that there are specific “zones” where you can add items. This limitation prevents you from making the lush, deeply customized town that you can in previous iterations on the Wii or even in DS games like Animal Crossing, which really restricts your creative freedom.
Sound is not half bad, but nowhere near good. The characters all speak in Simlish, which is adorable as always, but I noticed a lot more repeated phrases in this title than normal. Certain characters always say the same phrase in Simlish, no matter when you talk to them, which can grate on your nerves fast. The background music is fairly boring and inoffensive, and it’s doubtful you’ll even notice it’s there.
MySims Agents on the DS could have been a competent game. If the mini-games worked better (or, better yet, were dropped from the game altogether) then I could see this as a fun little diversion that featured the same ol’ construction-based adventure that we’ve all grown to love. But in this case, the addition of mini-games really hampered the mechanics, and made this game a real chore to plow through.
If you must experience MySims Agents, it looks like the Wii version is going to be your best bet, as the DS version just doesn’t get the job done.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.3 Graphics
The world is very cute, and there’s plenty to explore, but characters often appear jagged, and there is a limit to how many objects can be displayed on the screen at once. 2.0 Control
Many of the mini-games do not control well, using either control scheme. This makes some objectives nearly impossible, and you’ll have to rely on luck more than anything to complete them. 3.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Cutesy music is barely noticeable, and the repetitive Simlish phrases walk the fine line between adorable and agitating. 2.1
The impossible controls make the mini-games very frustrating. Even though side missions and construction elements can be fun, the story-based mini-games ruin the experience and make this game a chore to finish.
2.4 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.