The Sims and its sequels and spin offs have found great success on computers and videogame consoles. The latest version produced on the Nintendo Wii is called MySims and it revolves around a user created player that will work to restore a rundown town back to its former glory while attracting unique residents. Like another other Sims game before it, MySims allows players to create their own characters, build their own structures, and freely roam around their town and creations. However, one major difference in MySims is that the characters for the Wii and DS are short, stubby and can be made to all look like cute anime characters down to the eyes and facial expressions.
Other features include the ability to grow flowers and plants by planting seeds outside, and extracting “essences” from the player’s objects which can be used for decoration. The DS version will have a number of mini games including fishing. On the Wii, the Nunchuk will be utilized for “direct movement”, with the remote for object moving and building. The DS version will support the touch screen and microphone.
Compared to previous Sims titles, MySims has a more cartoonish and anime-inspired look, with chibified character designs. This was the idea of Emmy Toyonaga; in Official Nintendo Magazine she quotes “Well, Mario and other Nintendo characters are pretty short and stubby. Also, being Japanese I’m used to the mindset that fun games should have shorter, stubbier characters. So these characters kind of came naturally.” In Nintendo Power, designer Robin Hunicke claims that the character designs also imply “youthfulness “, and that the aesthetic was chosen for “world-wide appeal”, while referencing the average sales of previous Sims games in Japan
Some of the reasons they decided to turn the Sims on the Wii into cute anime characters is to appeal to the broad customer segments that use the Wii. From popular reports and word-of-mouth it appears that the Wii has caught on with non-gamers, young children. families and even the elderly so it would make sense to design a game that would have common appeal to these groups.
Additionally, it was suggested that the game developers for the Sims are making an effort to penetrate the Japanese market, where they were not doing so strongly in sales because their character designs and gameplay did not appeal to the casual Japanese gamer.
With that in mind, they made cultural adjustments to their successful Sims formula by simplifying aspects of the gameplay and making their characters cute and anime-like. For some reason, a Japanese-American game developer felt the need to play on existing Japanese stereotypes to further explain the changes they made for the Sims series in MySims.
One of my friends has a Wii and there is a running joke that she resembles an anime character. This game may prove to be a lot of fun for her…
It would be interesting to see all of us in MySims form to boot.