Product Type: Electronic Arts Nintendo DS games
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Come and explore this tropical island!
The Sims 2: Castaway (DS)
Member Name: Deb_C
The Sims 2: Castaway (DS)
Advantages: addictive game, customisable character
Disadvantages: so addictive you complete it too quickly!
The Sims 2: Castaway is a game that takes the main idea of the Sims games (controlling a character & satisfying their needs) & successfully combines it with a specific storyline to follow & more concrete goals to achieve.
Like in all Sims games, you start off by creating a character. You choose their gender, skin & hair colour, hairstyle & clothes, & give your Sim a name. Obviously there aren't as many customisation options at this point as in the main Sims games available for the PC, but there are still plenty of different choices to allow you to create a unique character, & the animations are more realistic than I'd expected.
Next you find out that your Sim has washed ashore on a tropical island! The point of the game is to explore the island, build a shelter, find food, craft different items & help out the other castaways you meet, & eventually find a way to escape the island. And all the while you need to remember to fulfill all your Sim's needs - like in most other Sims games, your Sim has bars showing whether they require food, drink, sleep, a wash, social interaction & so on (these are shown in the top screen so they're always visible but not intrusive). These bars seem to go down at just the right rate, allowing you enough time to do other tasks - you don't just feel like you're spending the whole time fulfilling needs. Days also pass at a good rate (although you can speed up time if necessary) & are convincingly divided into day & night. The time of day is also shown on the top screen.
The controls all use the touch screen, for example you can touch where you want your Sim to walk to, or touch an object or person for them to interact with.
As you explore the island, you collect different things (such as fruit, leaves & branches) which are stored in your inventory. These things can be traded with other castaways, or used to craft new items. You can also collect seeds & plant them to grow things like fruits, vegetables, nuts & grasses.
The main storyline of the game involves exploring the whole island (there's a map that shows you how much you've explored) & interacting with other castaways. To be able to access every area & to be able to help the castaways, you'll have to find, trade & craft different objects. It's not just about collecting things though, there is some logical deduction involved, e.g. you need to work out which objects to combine to create certain tools, & which tools to use to accomplish different tasks.
Each castaway you meet has their own story & their own requirements. You need to stay friends with them by visiting them regularly as well as getting them the objects they require. Once you've seen the whole island & satisfied every castaway, you'll eventually be able to find a way off the island & that's the end of the main storyline.
You don't have to leave the island though & you can carry on as there are still other things to accomplish - mainly collecting & crafting all the different objects available. There are also mini-games which are fun & also provide items necessary to progress through the game.
The mini games include:
Spear fishing: you catch fish with a spear by tapping the screen when you see a fish coming. This is quite addictive and more challenging than it sounds!
Bug hunting: you lift a rock & have to squish as many bugs as possible (by tapping them with the stylus) before they scuttle off the screen. Also quite addictive. You get the best items from this if you manage to squish every bug.
Fire lighting: this is a bit too simple to really be called a mini-game, although the manual lists it as one. I like it though as it's a clever use of the DS's unique features: you need to light a fire by sliding the stylus up & down the log, & then blowing into the microphone to get the fire going.
You can easily save at any point in the game by going to sleep in your hammock. Something I particularly liked about the game is that it's very easy to travel around the island: once you've visited an area once, to go back there you can just tap that area on the map, which is much easier than having to walk all the way back there (the island is quite big!).
In this game, the animations are quite realistic (as opposed to the cartoon style of the 'My Sims' games which are also available on DS). I found the characters, objects & backgrounds to be very impressive for a console with such a small screen.
I found this game to be really addictive - it really makes you want to find every area on the island, get all the items for each castaway & craft all the different items available. I played this game as much as I possibly could for a week or so, until I completed it. There's plenty of gameplay in it & I'd advise trying to ration yourself to only playing for about half an hour a day otherwise the game is completed too quickly which is a shame. I loved it while I was playing it but I don't have much interest in starting it again now I've completed it.
According to the box this game is suitable for ages 12+. Its RRP is £19.99 & it's currently available on Amazon for £14.99.
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