The Sims is heading in a new direction with the spin-off MySims Party, a compilation of four-player minigames to play with friends from the comfort of your own couch. Those who have been following this budding franchise should know that even though you aren't running around doing quests and helping the needy locals, you still have the ability to explore this quaint little town and do some light customization. There are more than 40 minigames to enjoy, and as you play through Dream Festival mode, you'll unlock special items, new minigames, accessories, and familiar characters.
The Dream Festival mode lets you create your own MySim, the same way you do in the previous games. You'll get to change your hairstyle, clothes, facial features, and voice, but if you'd rather go random, you can do that too and come up with some wacky characters that way. In the beginning you can choose how you want to allocate your character's statistics, which will give you the upper hand when you start playing those minigames. For example, some minigames rely entirely on luck, so having a character with a lot of luck will give you an advantage over the others. A bit of strategy comes into play when putting together a team. You want one that is balanced, but some characters have their own specialties that could come in handy. The Dream Festival is a collection of 12 individual festivals, each hosted by a different member of the MySims community. Each festival comes with its own set of minigames. Once you complete one, you'll earn items and unlock more characters, such as Gino, Buddy, and DJ Candy, who can then join your winning team.
Eventually you'll build a team of four, which will give you some options when it comes to choosing a MySim to play a particular game. The game will indicate which stats are needed for a particular minigame. There's a fairly good selection of games, and we haven't even unlocked all of them yet. There are a few that are based completely on guessing, but the ones that require some thinking or puzzle-solving are incredibly fun. A Wii party game wouldn't be complete without a rhythm game, and there's a trivia minigame in which you need to answer questions by selecting the right answer. You'll run from crazy, out-of-control robots, pull off snowboarding tricks as you fly down the snowy slopes, and pick out colorful clothes and delightful toys for little girls. Between rounds, there are special events that could yield items that boost your stats. We aren't sure how much of an advantage a lucky lemon can give you, but it's a nice bonus all the same. All of this is bundled into a well-presented package of cuteness; MySims is full of bubbly, sweet, and friendly characters that will leave a smile on your face.
Part of the reason why the series is so charming is because of the adorable cast of characters. They're placed in a pastel, kid-friendly world in which all they seem to do is play all day long--how nice is that? MySims Party keeps the tradition of customization alive by letting you decorate some of the town with monuments that you can win by playing in the festival. However, the amount of customatization is limited, given that it seems you can change only the exterior of your house and a few key locations. It's possible that whoever is running the place doesn't want your lousy landscaping skills blemishing the perfect little town. The bulk of your time is spent playing the minigames, which can be accessed in the Minigame mode if you don't feel like participating in the Dream Festival. This mode won't earn you any special items, but it's a quick way to play because you avoid the loading times and fanfare whenever a round is finished. There's also a Ranking mode that you unlock early on so that you can compete online against other players.
MySims Party has the same feel as the previous games, and you should be able to find your favorite MySim in town once everything is unlocked. It looks to be a fun party game for a younger audience or parents who like to play with their kids, given that the games are relatively simple and fairly easy--although there were a few moments when the AI put up quite a fight. MySims Party will also be heading to the Nintendo DS, with its own catalogue of multiplayer party games, so keep a lookout for that. The MySims party starts in spring of 2009 on the Nintendo Wii.