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More Harvest Moon than The Sims, MySims puts you again in the shoes of a cute, blocky character, whose job is to help rebuild a village that has fallen into disrepair. Your character takes on this handyman role, by means of a workshop where you can get to work, and various blueprints for item designs that you find around the place. Initially, there are only one or two folk around town, so it’s pretty easy to keep up with their desires (“I’d really love a table”), but once you invite a few more people to move in, their requests get somewhat more complicated (“I need three video arcades, one with spiders, one with action heroes and one with video game essences!”).
I should have mentioned essences earlier - they are items you find, well, everywhere. You get them from other sims if they react to you in a particular way; you find them when you go fishing, when you prospect for weird things under the ground, and you can shake them out of trees. Essences are the heart of the game, and the number of essences you can find and build things from is quite frankly overwhelming.
But they’re not just for collecting; essences fall into one of six different categories: cute, geeky, studious, spooky, tasty and fun. You can paint an item with an essence, and imbue that item with the qualities of the essence. Sims also have a preference for these qualities, so for example, you can have a goth who has spooky and geeky interests, and so would absolutely DIE if you made him a bed painted with geeky and spooky essences. It’s a cute spin on personality types, and what’s more, if you keep building with certain essences over others, you’ll find you get more people of that type who are keen to come move in for good.
The building - collecting grind can become laborious after a while, but the addictive factor is in trying to increase the number of stars your town has - and you can only do that by fulfilling the requests of the people in your town. More stars mean more areas to explore, more people wanting to move into your town, and a general improvement of how the place looks.
All of these features so far are exactly the same (so I understand) as the Wii version of the game. Where the PC version really shines, however, is in the introduction of multiplayer gaming. You can create your very own online garden, where your mates can pop over and you can all hang out together, build places, chat, emote, and so forth. It’s a really cute addition to the game - but by no means necessary if you would prefer to keep things single player.
In addition to all this, the game is fantastic looking, has great sound effects and soundtracks (each sim that moves in has a soundtrack you hear when you walk past their dwelling), and the interface is easy and intuitive.
I won’t gloss things over here - if The Sims, Harvest Moon, or Viva Pinata don’t do it for you, MySims probably isn’t going to turn you over to this type of game. That said, there is a very appealing quality to this game, that I’m pleased to say far surpasses the DS offering. Creating different and more elaborate items, collecting new essences, unlocking new areas of the map to explore, and especially checking in at the hotel to see which new characters want to move into town - these are all a great deal of fun, much, much more than I expected.