This past weekend EA invited us out to experience three of their new games under the Sims label which has expanded far beyond its humble beginnings as a city building simulator. So far in fact that one of the next games under the license, MySims Kingdom for the Wii, isn’t really a simulation game at all. No, while MySims Kingdom has many of the properties of a Sims game — like building and designing houses, and creating adorable characters to play as — it is in fact at its heart an adventure game almost devoid of the life living gameplay that was the foundation for the series. This doesn’t make it bad, just different and one of the sure signs that the Sims label is no longer relegated to simulation games.
I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since last year’s MySims for the Wii was clearly moving away from the simulation gameplay towards a more friendly “build and construct for fun” game. In fact the entire MySims label is about just that, building for fun. We were told that EA is looking at the MySims characters like the Muppets, where you had the same characters like Ms. Piggy and Kermit but in totally different situations like space (horrible movie) or a pirate island (great movie). In short, a MySims kart racer can’t be that far off. But enough about EA’s marketing creations, what is MySims Kingdom and how does it play? I spent plenty of time with it and found out.
To start with, MySims Kingdom is not a sequel in any way to MySims but a completely different game. The player takes control of their user created character and quickly becomes the Wandalier of a kingdom made up entirely of islands, each of which has a different theme like western or animal reserve. After creating a character, the player proceeds to become the kingdom’s new Wandalier, which is a made up word for a guy with a wand who can build houses and other contraptions out of thin air. The king of the kingdom tasks you and two of your friends, who MySims fans will recognize from the previous game along with plenty of other characters, to help the people of his kingdom in whatever manner they need. Obviously that manner revolves around constructing houses and gear contraptions with your wand.
You can’t just go building things willy nilly though. You’ve got to have essence in order to construct objects and you also need the proper scrolls that teach you how to construct different objects. Basic gameplay revolves around obtaining a scroll, finding the material you need to complete the scroll (wood, cherries, smiles, etc.) and then building a house that pleases the person whose tasked you with a job. Houses and buildings need to meet certain requirements. For instance, the visitor’s center you build for the woman running the wildlife park must have a certain amount of nature elements around it and a certain amount of “cute” points. Thus you, as the builder, must place objects that have nature and “cute” points without running out of essence. Of course if you do run out of essence, you can just go get some more by shaking a tree or trading for it. Supply management is not a big deal in the game as it was stressed over and over to us that creating was the main point.