As is the case with many of EA’s popular franchises, another year means another iteration of MySims for the DS. MySims Kingdom continues in the same vein as the original, attempting to merge a storyline and less sim-based gameplay with likeable Sim characters. While the game does provide a new story, some new characters, new mini-games, and a few new gameplay elements, it is still basically the same game from a year ago.
MySims Kingdom thrusts players directly into the game’s relatively short and rather lackluster storyline from the outset. Shortly after customizing your character’s looks from a fairly limited number of options, the once beautiful kingdom is assaulted by an unknown assailant. However, this isn’t a violent attack but a more family-friendly strike against the town, where the perpetrator makes almost everyone’s homes and decorations disappear. Of course, it is then up to you to find and stop this evildoer by helping to restore the kingdom to its former glory.
While the game will constantly nag you to rebuild and refurbish the kingdom, it is virtually a pointless component of the game when trying to complete the story. Aside from the few missions that directly require you build a specific structure or place some sort of decoration in town, you can ignore this part of the game entirely. Instead, players will progress through the game’s story by interacting with the kingdom’s inhabitants, completing a plethora of fetch quests, taking part in some mini-games, and spending a ton of time running from one destination to another.
At almost every turn, the story and game plays out as follows. King Roland walks on-screen and complains about the town’s appearance. You are then tasked with going to a new part of the kingdom and helping its inhabitants by participating in mini-games or running a fetch quest for them. Once you’ve successfully completed these new objectives, you will then hand the components you’ve earned from doing so to Dr. F. This results in receiving a new item that helps you get to another area. Rinse and repeat. What makes matters worse is that as more and more areas become unlocked, backtracking to other areas to find specific characters becomes all the more tedious.
Even with all the time consuming traveling you’ll need to do, the game’s story only takes around five to six hours to complete. This is where I came to the realization that while creating objects, customizing the kingdom and homes, and replaying the scant offering of mini-games on different difficulties to achieve a better score aren’t necessary, it is basically the only way to derive any sort of longevity from this title. Creating objects is fairly simple, consisting of using the Extractor to collect the essences of outdoor objects and then placing them in groups of two into the Synth-O-Tron. This machine will combine these two essences, either automatically or by scribbling on the touch screen with the stylus, and will spit out an object based on the ingredients and the mixing method used. Although this process can get very repetitive, the sheer amount of combinations and ways of mixing possibilities can provide players looking to create every item in the game with several more hours of gameplay.
The nine mini-games included in MySims Kingdom definitely vary greatly in both quality and enjoyment. A couple of the highlights include a ski jump which has you blowing into the microphone to increase your speed while using the stylus to adjust your jumping angle and hang time, and a timed ghost-tapping outing full of power-ups. Unfortunately, there are also the likes of the tennis mini-game present. This is perhaps the worst tennis you’ll ever find in a game. You can move your character around using the D-pad and swing your racket with the A button. No spin can be placed on your shots, there is no variety to your swings, and you move around the court at a snail’s pace. Further aggravation is caused by the fact that your own character frequently obscures your view of the ball and that opponents will rarely miss a return.
After experiencing everything this game had to offer, I can’t help but to think that the MySims franchise is EA’s attempt at making their own Animal Crossing type series. The only problem is that Animal Crossing does it much better in most respects. The decorations in this game are all rather drab, lacking all but the most basic of detail, and the options also seem to be much fewer than in Nintendo’s classic.
The characters in MySims Kingdom are also far from likeable due to both their actions and their visual presentations. It is actually quite difficult to enjoy many of the game’s characters, as most seem rather crabby and even downright mean at times. Whether you have King Roland yelling at you for how bad the kingdom looks, Ellen constantly getting you to do her job for her, or getting completely brushed off by many of the other characters in the kingdom, you never really get the sense that the characters you come into contact with actually want you around. That is, besides the work they can get out of you while you happen to be there. Every character in the game also looks like a clothing-covered rectangle, complete with limbs and a face that changes slightly to try to reflect emotions.
However, there are a few things that do tip in MySims Kingdom’s favor. The way that this game handles its in-game cycles is much better than in Animal Crossing, at least in terms of a portable experience. Every day is broken into four time segments – morning, noon, evening, and night – that only pass while you are playing the game. The time of the day will affect the way Sims behave, what stores are open, which mini-games are available to play, and what animals you may find lurking about to take photos of. This sped up and segmented approach is much more conducive to a quick pick-up-and-play experience than a realistic calendar that expects you to play the game at specific times. The addition of a story element also adds to the game by giving players a goal other than just continually redecorating the kingdom. The game’s nine mini-games all function as nice distractions, giving players a good variety of different experiences that can be played until you eventually grow tired of them or just can’t score any higher.
If you already own MySims, you likely won’t find much here to entice you to upgrade. The same goes for if you already own a copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World as well. However, if you don’t currently own either of these titles, MySims Kingdom may be right up your ally. If you can get past the fairly boxy-looking and unlikeable characters, there is some fun to be had creating objects, playing mini-games, completing the game’s story, and customizing the kingdom’s appearance. Just don’t expect to be wowed by the storyline or to enjoy all of the included mini-games.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.8 Graphics
While the game’s graphics are bright and cheerful, the characters, objects, and buildings found within are fairly rough around the edges. 3.8 Control
Whether using the D-pad or the stylus and touch screen this game controls rather well. 2.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
This game’s music gets very repetitive, and its sound effects are fairly sparse and cheesy-sounding. 3.0
The storyline and mini-games are fun while they last but are over far too quickly. Luckily, there are a ton of items to create, areas and buildings to decorate, and mini-games to be played with friends that can help to add a little longevity to the title.
3.1 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.