MySims Kingdom Hands-On

We get to use a magical scepter, herd pigs, find treasure, and, of course, build houses in the latest MySims game.

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In an attempt to bring the popular series The Sims to the console and make it more accessible, Electronic Arts took out such mundane tasks as tending to hygiene and eating. It then introduced MySims, which is more focused on creating and building. The overall look changed as well; it's more colorful and vibrant. You also have a cast of adorable, short, block-headed characters with cute anime-like expressions. This new MySims formula for the Wii and Nintendo DS was met with much success, having sold more than 2.8 million copies worldwide. From the makers of MySims comes MySims Kingdom, a new world with multiple islands to visit, as well as an assortment of people to interact with and help.

That's a nice lasso you've got there.
That's a nice lasso you've got there.

Our first task was to create our character and determine what he or she will wear. You can pick your gender and then go from there. There's a solid variety of hairstyles, face paints, and outfits from which to choose. You can also choose the pitch of your sims babbling. The outfits veer toward a medieval theme so that you don't stick out like a sore thumb. There's a variety of rustic dresses, which is very reminiscent of what Cinderella would wear, before she became a princess. As soon as the game started, it did feel like this was going in a Cinderella type of direction because your first task was to bring a couple of pigs back to the house. Also, Elmira could have easily been the evil stepsister. Luckily, your friends come by to bail you out of the ugly situation. You'll recognize Buddy if you played the last MySims, but this time, he's here to help deliver a message from the king.

King Roland is looking for a new wandolier (aka builder), and your friends encourage you to enter the competition. After going through several trials with the wizard Marlon, which basically serves as a tutorial, you come out as the kingdom's new wandolier, and it's up to you to use that magic scepter to help the people of the kingdom. We got a chance to check out a couple of the available islands in this build, and from what we've seen, it flows well because you are constantly asked to help with something. The gathering of essence and other items are also always within a confined area so you're not wandering around lost. We are told that there will be many islands available when the game is done, and each island has its own theme.

In order for your wandolier to create new items, such as stairs, furniture, or even gears, you need a magic scroll that will tell you what essences you need to collect. Magic scrolls will appear when you need them, although sometimes you'll need to socialize with a character to get him or her to hand them over. Socializing involves going through a series of motions without annoying the other person, which is similar to how it works in The Sims, to build a relationship. Once you have the required essence collected, your friend Lyndsay will put the ingredients in a magic bag and...poof! You've gained the ability to make pipes. We had the opportunity to build houses and decorate the interior, but when we weren't building things, we were fixing things. It seemed like we always came across some sort of contraption that wasn't working. Using gears, pipes, and belts, we had to connect the flour mill to the windmill so that it would start spinning again. On another island, we had to use belts to connect the mechanical bull to the power source so that it would work. These tasks are like puzzles because you have to make sure the pieces will fit, which can take a bit of trial and error.

Simon says,
Simon says, "Look excited!"

Another tool that came in handy was the treasure detector. You can scan the ground until the signals turn red. When it starts beeping, you hit the A button to dig up materials. There seems to be a lot of things to do on the different islands; for example, we also got to fish, mine, shake trees, and chop trees. There were enough tasks that all involved collecting, but the gameplay is mixed so that you don't feel like you're collecting the same things over and over again. There is good use of the Wii Remote where you'll have to swing it to chop trees and flip up to catch fish. The point-and-click mechanics are also easy when you enter the Build mode.

The characters are all endearing and quirky in their own ways, especially the king who just can't get enough cupcakes. We didn't have a chance to get too far, but there is a storyline to MySims Kingdom that will unfold as you progress. There seems to be plenty of things to discover, including costumes to unlock and wear. Look for more MySims Kingdom coverage when it is launched globally this fall.

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