The Sims 2: Castaway Impressions

We take a look at EA's upcoming island adventure on the DS.

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After a nice, long look at the console versions of The Sims 2: Castaway, we got to take a look at the DS version. Now, you might think the handheld version would seem underwhelming after the big rig run-through, but that was not at all the case. Rather, where the console games seem more focused on collection and the management of several villagers, the DS version will focus more on minigames, as well as a single villager.

If anything, the experience looks to be even more accessible and easily enjoyable in short bursts--or long sessions--because you'll be putting the spoils of your minigame winnings toward your survival.

Like the console versions, you're a castaway who has washed up on a remote island. You must forage for food and materials, as well as befriend other castaways. Interacting with the environment and its denizens will be even easier than in the console versions because you can simply tap on the ground to walk around or tap an item of interest to inspect or collect it. The controls already seem extremely elegant and streamlined.

With that in mind, we tapped our way over to the water for some spear fishing. Unlike the console versions, where fishing was mostly a collection mechanic rather than a game, the DS version turns the bottom screen into a top-down view of the water. As fish swim by, you have to lead them with your stylus and tap. This causes your spear to strike through the water, and hopefully, a fish.

We managed to spear a couple of fish but missed the tiny ones. When we asked the presenter why a hungry survivor would even go for the small fries, he informed us that nearly every critter, berry, plant, and collectible item in the game would have a use--either in trade or a recipe.

After getting our fill of fish, we picked up a rock and squashed some bugs as they scurried across the bottom of the screen. We could have eaten them, but the presenter said that would make our sim sad, and we took his word for it. Rather, bugs come in four colors and make great dye for castaway clothes.

From there, we moved on to fire, where we saw our presenter chafe the tender with the stylus while blowing into the microphone, just as you would to start a real fire. He informed us that the microphone will also come in handy with various musical instruments that you'll be able to construct on the island. While some, such as the conch shell, will only blow one note, others will be veritable piccolos. Armed with music, you'll have a much easier time befriending the other castaways.

While there's much we still don't know about The Sims 2: Castaway for the Nintendo DS, it looks like a solid collection of minigames worked into the frame of an island survival game. We'll tell you more when it ships on October 22.

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