As someone whose only experience with The Sims before playing this game was watching my dad play Sim City fifteen years ago, I’d have to say it’s not that bad. At first I was reluctant to play it because I found the premise, for lack of a better word, stupid. Why would I try to control the life of some pretend character when I can barely control my own? As the game went on, however, I found it to be pretty entertaining. There’s an odd kind of power one feels when controlling all aspects of someone’s life, even if said someone is a cartoon on your computer screen. The Sims: Castaway Stories, made by Aspyr, has two scenarios.
The first scenario I played was Shipwrecked and Single. In this version, you are on a singles cruise when your ship sinks and you are washed up on a beach. The game is in story mode and gives you goals and objectives, which you must accomplish before you can move forward in the game. Sounds good so far, right? Well, unless you are really terrible at figuring things out, this game is way too easy. Having never played any version of “The Sims” before, I didn’t know what some of the goal icons stood for so I clicked on them to get an explanation. Well, not only does it give you an explanation of what the icon means, it tells you exactly how to go about getting it, and if you’re a fast reader, these short hints are hard not to take in at a glance. I guess what I’m trying to say is that unless you want a step-by-step walkthrough for this game, do not try to find out what your goal icons mean! (Upon further review of the instruction booklet, I have found that you can turn off the hints in the Options menu.) Other than that, I have to say that the overall game isn’t too bad. Personally, I found decorating the multiple dwellings of the character the most fun, but I think there’s something for everyone in this game. After you have finished the story portion of the game, you simply keep taking care of your Sim and try to keep him or her happy.
The second scenario, Wanmami Island, skips the storyline altogether and you jump right into just taking care of your Sim. You can choose which family you want to be and usually have two or more Sims to take care of in each one.
The game has a tutorial, which is pretty helpful if you have not played the game before. It shows you how to use the Universal Control Panel, which tells you all the information you need to know about your Sim and allows you to toggle between Live, Barter, and Build modes. The panel is very easy to navigate and becomes second nature after using it only a few times. Another fun point about the program is that you can create a Sim that looks just like you. There is a very extensive menu for configuring the physical appearance of your Sim, and it gives the game a more personal touch. The music is pretty much your generic island music and the characters speak in gibberish, which can get annoying after a while, but overall the sounds are okay. The graphics are pretty good, and I loved the way you could navigate the camera all the way around your character most of the time without the animation missing a beat. However, loading times for the different areas were longer than I would have liked and sometimes moving the camera around would cause lagging or would just take you to an area you hadn’t even clicked on.
Overall, I would have to say that this game is much better than I thought it would be, but it hasn’t made me a huge fan of The Sims, either.