MySims Kingdom Hands-On
We play EA's upcoming portable MySims game where trouble is brewing.
MySims Kingdom on the Nintendo DS doesn't exactly put you into the heart of King Roland's kingdom as it does in MySims Kingdom for the Wii. Instead, your goal is to revive your section of the island after a mysterious person in black swoops in to suck away flowers, shrubbery, and even houses. The overall theme is similar to the last MySims for the DS where you were in charge of luring back the inhabitants of the island by doing various miniquests for the individuals that you met. Along the way, you will have minigames to keep you occupied, and, of course, it wouldn't be a Sims game if customization wasn't included.
After creating our sim, we met up with the new mayor, Ellen. Apparently, our character had been on vacation for a while, so everyone was very excited to have us back. Ellen finally hands over the key to our home, and we bring back our furniture from storage. Then, our first night in town is interrupted when we wake up to find that someone has come by and cleared out most of the town. King Roland, the ruler of the kingdom who likes to drop by for surprise visits, is very distraught, and so our adventure begins because it's up to our custom-made sim to revive the island.
We immediately met up with the slightly crazy scientist next door-- Dr. F-- and got a hold of an extractor, a handy item that allows you to suck the essence out of outdoor objects. This extractor can also be upgraded with parts that you conveniently get as a gift when you help out the locals. Essence is collected from a variety of sources, and soon, we were introduced to a Synth-O-Matic, a device that allows you to combine different essences to create an object out of thin air. Using the touch screen, you drop your essences in the device and manually shake it or choose the automatic shaker. Each combination can have several outcomes, so it can take multiple tries to see all the possible creations. Synthing and collecting essence alone is a game in itself, especially when your battery runs out quickly and doesn't recharge until the next day. You will need to pay attention to the time of day because it will affect whom you can talk to, what minigames you can play, and which stores you can visit. Sleeping isn't always necessary, and you can choose to lie down for however long you want.
Scattered throughout the island are minigames that you can play to earn money. You can play tennis where the first person to reach 11 points wins. You can help Ellen distribute vegetables by playing her Vegetable Vendor minigame, which requires you to pass out the correct vegetables to the customers within a certain amount of time. The kayaking game takes a little getting used to, considering you have to balance the stroke of your stylus on each side of the kayak, but you can play it multiple times for a small fee. Ghost Blasters is an enjoyable but easy minigame where you tap all the ghosts that appear onscreen.
There is also an ongoing minigame that you can play to help repopulate the zoo. It seems that all the animals have taken off, so the zoo keeper has asked you to take photographs of animals and bring them to him so that he can catch the animals. You are given a camera that you can use at anytime to take pictures, but you are limited to three save slots for the pictures.
The pace feels a little slow because you spend quite a bit of time running back and forth. Because everything was stolen, the environment is also pretty barren when you begin. However, like other open-ended games of the past, there is a lot to do, and it can definitely keep you entertained for hours as new areas are made available. We didn't get a chance to check it out, but there is a multiplayer option where you can play the minigames against a friend.
MySims Kingdom for the DS is scheduled for release this fall.
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