Monday, February 16, 2009

MySims (Wii) Review

On Tuesday I will be posting a new review for MySims Kingdom. Does it improve on the original MySims' formula? You'll find out tomorrow. Until then let's take a look at the original with a fairly old review of MySims!
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YourSims, MySims, and OurSims

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The Sims is a beast of a franchise selling millions of copies worldwide through its various sequels, expansions, and spin-offs. MySims is the latter of the three. Stylized heavily to pique the interest of the Japanese crowd, MySims sports a very cute, endearing, as well as charming look to it with deformed anime-styled characters and bright, colorful visuals, but how does the gameplay hold up?

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Begin by concocting your own Sim.

After creating your Sim from the multitude of facial expressions, eyes, hairstyles, makeup, and clothing options, you're assigned to construct a house to live in and a workshop to build furniture and other items in. After this, you're placed into your town-- which you're given the task to name. The mayor will explain that the town was once a bustling little community until slowly and steadily most of the inhabitants moved away. It's your duty to help this stumbling township regain its former glory and bring the town's status back up to five stars. What you can do at the beginning to the game is a little limiting as you need to follow the mayor's tutorial mission as well as check out the neighbors who remained in your town.

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Perform tasks for your fellow Sims.

Missions-- or tasks as the game calls them-- all revolve around the same trend-- construction. Commercial Sims-- those who own a business-- will often ask of you to make them an item or group of items after they've settled into their new digs. These items range from couches and chairs to arcade machines and giant-screened T.V.s. However, all items have a required number of Essences that need to be used when crafting the task. Essences are the bread and butter of constructing furniture. Certain Essences are found in distinct locations through a number of methods. You'll be prospecting and digging up various Essences, casting a line and reeling in other Essences, planting, growing, and shaking numerous trees for Essences, and retrieving other Essences by participating in events such as book club meetings and seances with other Sims.

Building furniture, or anything for that matter, is quite easy, but there's a lot of depth underneath that aura of simplicity. It's as quick as selecting from the multitude of blocks available and grabbing and dropping. There's square blocks, circle blocks, sphere blocks, triangle blocks, and a whole assortment of other blocks available for the creative type. The aim of constructing anything is to make sure you cover the glowing stars of the blueprint model. You needn't build everything exactly to blueprint. There's a lot of wiggle-room to maneuver here to give artists as much creativity as they'd like and those just wanting to build something fast the ability to do so. Once the task is completed you exit your workshop and give the item to the neighbor who gave you the task. It's your duty to place the object inside their domicile wherever you see fit.

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Mingle around town...

Once you reach a new level by fulfilling the needs and desires of your townspeople, you'll be able to check by the hotel to welcome new citizens to your town. The beauty of MySims is that you have full creative control of your town. If you didn't like that you didn't really have the power to say what citizen could live in your town in Animal Crossing, you'll definitely enjoy this aspect of MySims. It really is YOUR town to mold and craft. You go up to the Sim you'd like to move in, talk with them, ask them to move in, pick out any of the myriad of lots for them to live on, and then construct their home for them. Constructing homes is simple as well, and again there's a wide array of blocks to fool around with. A wide variety of windows, doors, roofs, furnishings, and colors are available to the player so no two homes will ever look the same if the player is creative enough.

There's three main areas to MySims-- the main town, the forest, and the desert. As you acquire new items from the mayor after your town reaches new levels, you'll be explore these areas more in-depth discovering new places to dig, caves to explore, lots for new Sims to move in on, and Essences to acquire. Besides the types of Essences you can gather and the aesthetics of the areas, there's really nothing that changes the main core of what you'll be doing-- shaking trees, digging up Essences, and moving in new Sims. This repetition might put off some players.

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Mingle indoors....

The Sims in your town each have their own personalities, and with those different personalities come different tastes. A goth-like character will probably be none too pleased with a pretty pink house, and a cute schoolgirl will most likely detest living in a brooding fortress of doom and despair. Sims will react to one another, but it's overly simplistic. Lasting relationships don't really occur to the level of what you'd find in the normal Sims titles. There aren't many options for what you can do with other Sims. It's either be nice, be mean, or just read the repeated dialogue over and over again. There's really no gender definitions either. Though it is amusing to see two male Sims blowing kisses at each other. There are special things you can do with Sims besides the generic options, however, such as dance with them, join in on lunch, juggle, and more. Sims can also interact with the various objects the game has, so a Sim can start grooving to a jukebox or take a snack out of the fridge and start chomping.

From the cute chibi characters to the colorful palette the game offers, the presentation is simple and endearing to the eyes. The sound design is quite good also. Sims speak their patented gibberish, and the music is bouncy, happy, and varied. Aesthetically, there's an extensive amount of options to furniture you can create, colors and patterns you can add, and structures that can be built. However, even doing the simplest of tasks in MySims can cause the game to chug to abysmal framerates and laggy gameplay, and this occurs more times than should be necessary for a game this simple in scope and design. There's also way too many load times. Load times when you enter buildings, two second load times when you talk to someone, load times when you wish to place furniture, design furniture, and load times when moving from one area to another. If a game as dynamic graphically as Metroid Prime 3 can pull it off, why can't a more tame game like MySims do it? It seems that with more development time these issues could have been rectified.

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RIBBIT!

If you're the type of gamer who vastly enjoys customization-- from the characters, the insides and outsides of homes, who you put in your town, and where you put them-- you'll greatly enjoy MySims if you can ignore the technical downsides. However, if the thought of repetition and even more repetition turns you off, then these Sims might not be the ones for you. With a construction interface that's intuitive and and easy to pick up for beginners and enjoyable to master for those with an artistic flair, a wide variety of personalities and townspeople to chatter with, and a very cute disposition, MySims is certainly an endearing experiment. It's not perfect, but damn, is it ever addicting.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Story: The town you've moved into is in need of revitalization. Are you a bad enough dude to help out?

Graphics: Simple which is no excuse for the load times and framerate kinks.

Gameplay: Repetitive, but is it right for you? Depends on how much you like the idea of customizing your own town and the Sims that live in it.

Sound: Yotoki ruffle, bizado! That means in Sim-speak: "quite good, homeboy!"

Replay Value: The creative type will have hours upon hours clocked into MySims. Others? Maybe not so much. Your time into the game reflects how creative you are.

Overall: 7.0/10 - Good, but framerate issues and abundant loading screens make for a bumpy ride.

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