The MySims series has become a regular staple in the ever-growing Wii library. The simplified version of the popular life-sim titles is easy to dive into, but up until now they have had a hard time finding an identity. With the fifth entry in the series EA has done a remarkable job of mixing the simplicity with and incredibly fun secret agent vibe to create the current pinnacle of the series. MySims Agents is enjoyable enough for traditional gamers, while still remaining simple enough for anyone to have a good time. EA has finally found the perfect balance for a series that has the potential to become one of the best on the console.
The MySims games, for anyone who has yet to play one, are basically stripped down versions of the mega PC hit. They take ideas from that game, spruce them up with some cutesy window dressing and build a game around it. MySims Agents is along the same lines. You begin by creating a character, which I did by creating my very own Sam Sleuth complete with five o’clock shadow and a dirty-brown trench coat. You also get to choose your own voice, which is interesting as Sim speak is nothing more than gibberish; in fact I know it is gibberish because one of the characters used two completely different words to say exactly the same thing.
The story follows you and your buddy aptly named, well Buddy. You run a low-level detective business out of a local pizza shop. One of the first cases you take on is discovering the owner of a dog, but eventually you make your way to the top by working for the local detective agency and even get your own building to run. In the beginning the game plays similar to a point and click adventure with some adventure elements thrown in. You move around using the analog on the nunchuk and perform various actions with the d-pad and face buttons. Motion control is mainly used for navigating the screen and menus, plus the occasional waggling to break boxes and use items.
The gameplay is straightforward and somewhat addictive in its simplicity. The majority of the time you are wondering around various environments talking to other Sims and uncovering clues to solve your cases. However, once you get further into the game you will eventually get your own agency and this is where the game really shines. From here you can hire new agents, assemble teams and accessorize your business with a host of cool gadgets. This turns the game into more of a simulation, but it is never as overwhelming as it might seem. Things are always simplified with great tutorials and highlighted areas to help younger gamers. Solving these cases quickly becomes addictive, and before you know it you have sunk hours into the game without much thought.
You have a nice selection of tools at hand that can be accessed by simply tapping a direction on the d-pad. You have a magnifying glass that will allow you to trace footsteps, a crowbar that can bash open boxes as well as prying them open, and a wrench that can be used to repair items. In addition to chatting with other Sims and uncovering clues there are also a host of minigames that take advantage of the motion controls a bit more. These are logic puzzles that can usually be solved by piecing a puzzle together or perhaps picking a lock. All of them work extremely well and are actually quite challenging and fun. These break up the monotony of simply walking from point A to point B asking questions.
As far as actually playing the game everything works relatively smooth. Navigating the environments is a breeze, and the platforming sections are definitely ironed out. There are some tricky jumps that need to be made to reach vital clues, and the mechanic works. The camera can become an encumbrance at times thanks to its nature to move behind objects, but it rarely left itself unusable for very long. The minigames work extremely well with the motion controls, and the absence of them outside of that and navigation really proves that the developer didn’t overuse them for the sake of plastering a bullet point on the box.
Graphically the game takes on the same visual style as the other MySims games. The characters sport the same over-exaggerated faces and the disproportionate bodies, which gives them a sense of innocence and character. The environments are well varied and sport some sharp textures. No two areas feel strikingly similar and they all spring to life with primary colors and intriguing locales. Other Sims will constantly flood the streets spouting off their gibberish language, which in my opinion can get quite annoying after a while. The music feels muted and generic, but the effects are definitely fitting. Overall the package sports a nice look and feel that should appeal to just about anyone.
MySims Agents is by far the best of the series so far. The unique detective aspect is something that a lot of family games have not attempted, and it works. Controls are smooth, graphics are eye-catching and the appeal is hard to ignore. If you or your kids enjoy solving mysteries together then this is definitely one to check out. The EA Wii library continues to show that shovelware is not always the answer when it comes to making games that can appeal to a broad audience.