MySims Kingdom Wii Review
MySims was an interesting spin on a traditional Sims game, in fact it had little in common with that series, with the focus being on building things as opposed to looking after virtual people. MySims Kingdom is a bigger and better game than the original and even though the building of things remains as the ultimate goal, for better and for worse, quite a lot has changed.
Things start out in a very similar fashion to that of the original with the creating and naming of your Sim, then you’ll soon find yourself sent on a quest by the cupcake loving King Roland. The quest, of course, involves the constructing and placing of objects, your task as a Wandolier, being to restore the King’s kingdom to its former happiness. There’s more story this time around with some humorous and delightful dialogue and a colourful cast of new and returning Sims, whom are all generally so very cheery that only the grumpiest grumps would refuse to carry out their requests for them.
Following some pig herding and the gathering of Wandolier trial invitations, you are then entered into the contest to become the next Wandolier and wielder of the royal scepter. This trial is basically a tutorial, informing you that you require mana in order to build and place objects, giving you the knowledge to move things around and construct and paint entire buildings as well as to get the new contraptions working smoothly. Unsurprisingly, you are announced as the Wandolier and presented with the real royal scepter, whilst fellow Sim Barney gets a toaster (how exciting!) as a runners up prize and the very spoilt Princess Butter, coming in last, gets absolutely nothing. King Roland, her father, asks her how many ponies will make things right? Naturally she wants even better, she wants a unicorn. Don’t you just hate spoilt Sims?
You soon learn that scrolls give you the ingredients to add new items to your always growing object catalogue. The ingredients, of course, being the familiar essences from the original game which must be gathered in order to complete each scroll. Essences are found in a variety of ways, perhaps you need to use an axe to chop some wood, or maybe you need to shake a tree with the Wii remote to gather what may be growing from its branches. Fishing, mining, digging and interacting with the Sims and game world are also possibilities in finding the materials that you seek. When you have the requisites, talking to your Sim buddy Lyndsey will result in her using the essences to add new objects to your catalogue. Lyndsey is also helpful when you are running low on the all important mana, in which she can transmute unwanted essences into the said mana for you. How nice of her.
Unlike MySims you won’t find yourself putting together pieces of furniture in your personal workshop, in fact there’s no workshop at all. This putting together and customising of furniture was one of the deepest elements of the original game and its absence in Kingdom is definitely felt (with preset furniture being your only option), although, just as long as you stick to certain guidelines, there’s still a good level of customisation as far as the building and placing of objects goes. All this construction is now seamless which means that the long loading times are now gone, always something to be thankful for.
A new feature is the contraptions, a feature that basically allows you to connect pipes and wires in order to water or to power objects. In an early example you are required to water Chef Gino’s tomato plants, whilst lazy people might suggest a watering can, as a Wandolier you have to construct a complex joining of pipes with water holes in the correct places to make Gino’s plants healthy again. You’ll need to run pipes from a water pump connected to a windmill to get the contraption functioning, and whilst it may be a little confusing at first, following some experimentation, things do begin to click. The contraptions often give the game a puzzle like feel, adding to the variety of the tasks and presenting a little challenge for you.
As the title suggests the game is set in a kingdom rather than a single town. You’ll begin your adventure on the medieval themed Capital Island but will soon be sailing the seas to travel from island to island, although sadly you don’t actually get to control the boat with instant travel coming through a simple island selection on a map screen of the entire kingdom. There’s 12 themed islands, each rather compact in size. There’s one island with a cowboy theme, one with a prehistoric theme, another with a horror theme and so on. Many of the islands are locked to begin with and travel to them only becomes possible when you have accumulated enough king points (game designers have got to love it when their games are targeted at a younger audience, they can use titles straight off the top of their heads without too many complaints of their simplicity), which are rewarded to you for completing tasks. In a nice touch when all the current tasks of an island are complete, nightfall comes, granting you the satisfying illusion that you have completed a full days worth of hard work and perhaps giving you the feeling that with quite a few Wandolier’s on the job, Rome really could have been built in a day.
There’s certainly more variety, although it does come at the cost of the customisation options somewhat. There’s quests to be completed (finding fish or figurines for example), a simple socialisation mini game that sees you choosing options to talk about to certain Sims, perhaps in order to get something from them or just in order to make them into better people (or Sims). It takes a trial and error approach but, as simple as it is, this feature certainly brings to mind a more traditional Sims game.
Like those of the original, the visuals are chunky, cheerful and colourful but this time with a much better framerate. The game itself may be simplified as far as customisation options go but it does have more variety (a little bit more still wouldn‘t go amiss), fewer loading screens and an increase of humorous dialogue. A relaxing, delightful, uplifting and mostly trouble free experience it is then, MySims Kingdom certainly retains the elements of the original game but it’s also something quite different as well, which will be a good or bad thing depending on who you may be.