Review: SimAnimals Africa (DS)
ESRB: E for Everyone
Number of Players: One-Two
Publisher: EA Games
Release Date: October 27, 2009
When I first got this game, I was kind of excited. I played a few other Sim games for the PlayStation 2 and the DS before and enjoyed them, including the Vet one. I love animals as well, so I had fairly good expectations with this game. The first time I sat down to play it, though, I was kind of disappointed.
The basis of the game is nice, but nothing really outstanding. You play as yourself, and with the help of a very talkative bird, you try to find and raise all of the various African animals, plants, and other wildlife. As you unlock things, you get more abilities and statues. Your goal is to get your environment as happy as you can. By doing so, you unlock wind then thunderstorms as more weather beyond the basic rain, which is necessary in growing anything. Once you get the happiness level up past unlocking the weather additions, you complete the area and get to move on to the next.
The graphics are pretty nice. It’s not as choppy as some other games, but they aren’t perfectly smooth as they are for other systems. There’s something that’s really cute about watching wild African animals roll over on their backs while you’re petting them. The trees and grass are also well done.
When it comes to controls, though, there are some little problems. You have to hold either the left or right trigger whenever you want to do anything other than grab something. So it gets hard if you’re like me and can’t quite get your hand icon over a bit of grass to shake it while having to hold the trigger and move. When you have to shake grass a lot to make it spread so you can attract animals, it gets really annoying when you keep missing. To make animals more friendly, you have to rub your hand icon all over it.
In each area, you get a list of objectives that automatically update as you complete them. These are key in maxing out the area’s happiness bar, as completion gives a big boost. You can find your current goals by clicking the yellow lion’s paw in the green circle at the top left corner of the screen
Items you find or things you need, like tree seeds and rainclouds, can be put in your backpack for safe storage. The backpack can be opened by tapping the backpack icon in the lower left corner. You can only store so many things, so be sure to only keep what you really need. Out of curiosity, I decided to pick up an animal and put it in the backpack. Yes, it does work. The bottom right will occasionally have icons pop up. These icons tell you when baby animals are either born or grow up, when animals are visiting, and other useful things.
The music is nice and calming. There are also musical cues when you’re actually shaking the grass or trees, and the animals make noise sometimes. The rain falling even makes the sound of rain. It’s really nice and I do recommend playing with the volume up a little so you can hear. It does help a fair bit when you’re trying to spread that pesky grass.
Gameplay is really repetitive. Once you learn how to shake grass and trees and master the art of befriending the various animals, it gets almost boring. It has a strange kind of addiction in that when you have nothing else to do, you might want to grab it and play it a bit. There’s a lot of various animals, plants, fish, and rare items that you can try to find, so there’s a little replay value. If you aren’t a Sims fan, don’t bother. If you are or have a younger child that likes it, then it’s good for a couple hours of playtime. Once it’s beaten, though, all you can do is restart and do the whole thing all over again.
Review product was provided by EA games, and does not affect the outcome of this review.