MySims Kingdom is a sweet and simple game where you'll put your collecting skills to good use in a charming landscape. Or rather, it used to be charming until some ne'er-do-well went around with an eraser gun, deleting the area's lovely buildings and features. Your quest, should you choose to accept it this fall, will be to restore the kingdom to its glory by collecting essences, creating objects, and competing in an assortment of minigames.
MySims Kingdom for the DS will encourage you to be creative. Not only can you customize your avatar, but you can even customize the patterns on your avatar's clothes and then share those patterns with friends who also own the game. Of course, to customize things like your house, or the landscape outside, you need nifty objects, and to get those, you need essences. Every object in the game has an essence, and fortunately, you'll have a handy-dandy essence extractor. You simply go up to an object of your choosing (for instance, a shrubbery) and suck away! Don't worry, you won't hurt the plant, though you will gain an essence. You can then take this essence and combine it with another in the Synth-O-Matic, and a completely new object will pop right out. We combined a brown essence (from plants) with a blue essence (presumably acquired from a water source) and ended up with a heart-shaped fountain to place anywhere we chose. We were then able to suck more essence out of the fountain, which we then used to create more objects. It's easy to see how this simple collecting mechanic could lead to long hours of running around, gathering essences, and placing your fancy new objects.
But if you aren't in the mood to go on a nice, long collection jag, you can always pop into one of MySims Kingdom's simple minigames for a quick gameplay fix. The first one we saw had the working title "Vegetable." In it, we had a three-by-three box of assorted vegetables, and people would come up and place orders. We fulfilled their requests by clicking on the appropriate items. As soon as one customer left satisfied, the customer was replaced by another, and we had to complete as many orders as possible in about a minute. When we finished, we were given a rating based on the number of people served, as well as the number of mistakes we made (we didn't make any, because we are great at vegetables). This was then translated into cash, which we could turn around and use to buy even more neat stuff to play with.
We also played a match of "Shoot," which had us tapping tons of ghosts on the bottom screen with the stylus. Even though it was very simple, we happily tapped away, exterminating ghosts left and right until time ran out and we got our ghost-busting money. "Ski Jump" was far more unusual; in it, we had to blow rapidly into the microphone, propelling our little jumper down a ramp. When he reached the end, we had to tap the screen, then rotate a circle to make him flail his arms, furthering his epic flight. This minigame seems to use a lot of the DS's unique capabilities. A game called "Kayak" had us stroking the bottom screen to make our little person paddle, which is easy on paper but difficult in practice. We never quite got the hang of it, though we're looking forward to another chance.
And that's less than half of the minigames we saw on display, though we played only the ones mentioned above. While we have no idea whether the ones we haven't tried are better or worse than the ones we did, we look forward to finding out this fall, when MySims Kingdom lands on store shelves.