Currently Consuming: The Sims 4

Small Currentrly consuming

The_Sims_4_Box_ArtA graphic step up, The Sims 4 is a mish-mash of elements from all previous versions of the game.

About: EA’s fourth installment of the life simulation game is one that allows players to create, shape, play, and control the lives of their ‘Sims.’ The Sims 4 sees the inclusion of emotions into the lives of your Sims, affecting both their mood, work, and family life.

Why: Origin had a half-price sale and despite my misgivings about the new installment, the cheap price tag called to me. It called! Beckoned, really.

Best Bits: The graphics are a step up from The Sims 3 with the character creation section allowing you to ‘click and drag’ your Sim’s bodies into any shape you want (within reason, of course). This function allows you to easily create a wider range of characters than previous games, I myself have been relishing the function by creating characters with incredibly unusual noses.

Also please refer to the image on the left. You can take an angry poop in The Sims 4. That is all

Thoughts so far: The game is good, however unlike its predecessors, The Sims 4 doesn’t have me sitting in front of the computer for hours on end. I can spend a few hours but this is nothing like the marathons I am use to pulling. I feel that currently I am unable to create as interesting stories and narratives for my Sims; I do think that this will change with the (currently unannounced) expansion packs.

At the moment I am still switching between the The Sims 3 and 4, however this does not detract from any enjoyment I have playing The Sims 4.

New Style Boutique

_-Nintendo-Presents-New-Style-Boutique-3DS-2DS-_At first glance, New Style Boutique appears to be a game predominantly for younger girls. However after exhausting my 3DS demo, I finally caved in a purchased the game. Compared to the demo, the game mechanics are very different. The main plot of the game is that after moving to a new town, your character finds a job at a boutique fashion store owned by Evie. After working a few days, you are promoted to manager while the owner goes off and eventually establishes the fashion shows that are featured in the game demo.

The main game play aspects involve creating and picking outfits for clients, stocking and buying inventory from merchandisers as well as participating in nightly fashion shows. In addition to these activities done for the shore, players are able to customise their own character with clothes purchased through the merchandisers as well as makeup and hairstyles purchased at other stores throughout the city.

The game runs on an internal clock, based on a typical day in which only a limited number of activities can be achieved. Broken up into morning, day, night and late night, certain activities can only be accessed at certain times.

There are a variety of fashions available to players with styles ranging from chic, eastern, feminine, gothic, and glam just to name a few. The variety of clothes and the outfit combinations that players can create is only limited by the imagination. The mix of game play keeps New Style Boutique interesting and easily allows gamers to play for multiple (in game) days.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

nnd7The newest installment of the Animal Crossing series a ‘New Leaf‘, sees a return to the hand held with the game being released for the 3DS. Having been only recently made aware of the franchise, by the ‘coming soon’ trailers for the game, the rich history and back catalogue of the series was quickly researched. Having now played both the Animal Crossing ‘City Folk’ on the Wii and original Gamecube game, the developed and forever subtle nature of the series is one that has made quite an impression on me.

The game of every Animal Crossing but in particular ‘New Leaf,’ is in its very nature is subtle. Rather than logging numerous consecutive hours playing through a story, each Animal Crossing game is a simulation and town building game.  The gameplay is one that sees players returning for a small amount of time every day, in order to build, buy and sell objects to develop both the town and the players house. Rather than being boring, the gaming mechanism keeps its appeal long after the purchase of the game.

In regards to ‘New Leaf’ a new angle has been taken to further immerse players into the action with the player being mistaken as the new mayor. This elevated position is one that sees players being able to have a say in exactly how the town operates. Public projects such as windmills, lamp posts, a cafe and even the opening of a night club are all available to a player. A further way that ‘New Leaf’ is modifiable by the player is that players can dicate how they play. That is, through ordinances paid for by the player, the town shopping area can stay open later, or can open earlier, depending on the time in which user tend to play the game.

The most endearing element of the game franchise and ‘New Leaf’ are the characters. The animal characters that populate each tiny town each offer up a new look, perspective, speech type and room design. The interactions that can be had between player and animal are the most surprising as this gamer found herself feeling very strongly for the characters. At the news that one of my animals was considering leaving the town, I was panicked and upset that they would consider leaving. After informing the animal that they were still very much wanted in the town, the decision to stay was one that relieved.

Other more ‘special’ characters such as Isabelle (your secretary of sorts), KK Slider (the musician) Brewster (the caffeine dispensing pigeon), and the Able sisters (who make and distribute clothes) just to name all add to the intrinsic pleasure that this games gives players. If you have never heard of nor played an Animal Crossing game before, then now is the time to try as ‘New Leaf’ is one that delivers on simulation, home and heart. The number of hours spent playing this game, even if it is only for a few minutes a day, are all minutes well spent.

Little Inferno

LittleInfernoComingPut simply, Little Inferno is a game that lets you burn things.

This is, of course, all from the safety of your own home and without things such as burns, singed hair or arson charges.The ‘Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace’ is the name of the brand new addition to your house that, with the help of a catalogue where you order things to burn, allows you to keep yourself warm but to also stay, staring transfixed into the flames for much longer than you’d ever admit.

When I first encountered this game, a good three hours were spent watching my partner play it. Even though I wasn’t playing the game or experiencing the glee that it is to wave the electronic match, I was none the less engulfed by the need to watch everything as it burned. The next day when I had control of the Wii U, I spent no less than 4 hours wielding the flame and bringing destruction to all the creepy little objects.

What keeps you playing, aside from the morbid fascination of fire, is the combos of the game. Within each of the seven catalogues that you slowly unlock, there are combinations of certain items that you can complete. Delving deeper into the game, each time you burn an object you receive more money than what it cost to buy said object. Boggling logic, but it nevertheless is one that sees you quickly work through the catalogues.

Interwoven throughout all this however, is the storyline of the game. It may seem strange to have a storyline in a game such as this, but it is one that does make itself known. Don’t be mistaken, the concept and execution of the story is relatively simple but it is nonetheless poignant. The indie game developer ‘Tomorrow Corporation’ achieves this via letters that are sent to you in amongst your encouraged warmth. Without giving too much away, the presence of the girl next door is one that, at the peak of the game, is incredibly moving. Shocking even.

At first glance this game is all about the simple act of destroying things with fire, but there is a creepy and moving story at the heart of the game. Something dark is at play in this world but just like the character you play, you’re too wrapped up in the flames to become fully aware. I thoroughly enjoyed playing this deceptively simple game, and would not hesitate to recommend this indie title. 

An example of the creepiness can be seen in this in-game advertisement for the Little Inferno itself:

Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Treasure

Rhythm Thief & the Emperor’s Trearhythm_thiefsure, one of the newer releases from co-developers Sega and Xeen, is a 3DS rhythm game that follows the adventures of Raphael as he and his pet dog, Fondue, traverse Paris trying to solve a mystery.

Glossing over the storyline, at the heart of this game are dance rhythm games. Often times you’ll be playing as Raphael or his alter ego Phantom R as he somehow utilises his dancing skills for good. As well as the dancing you’ll also find mini games where you are Phantom R sneaking into places, where by tapping the screen at the correct time you successfully allow Phantom to duck and hide behind strategically placed objects all the while sneaking into the Louvre. Another type of game that pops up somewhat frequently is where you play as Fondue attempting to impress a lady dog by mirroring her actions. These Fondue games are particularly hard to complete.

Rhythm Thief mini games have an annoying tendency to fail you relatively quickly. Oftentimes it felt like, only three or four notes where missed in a row before you were failed. Even if you were, up until that point, having a perfect game one missed move and you were ready to fail. However, the game does have a little menu before the start of the mini-game where you can buy items that will give you certain amount of leeway. These bonuses range from buying you extra time before you fail or for the truly gifted, you can buy one that will make things harder for you.

Throughout the game there are also collectibles you have to find in order to create additional items. One of these is the master instrument which, when played a certain sound, unlocks more levels of itself to be completed. The un-lockable notes, which are potentially hidden in the background of each place you visit, were a nice touch to the game and I found myself clicking wildly on every screen I came across. An important thing to note though is the way the gyroscopic controls have been integrated in the game, which is to say terribly. Every mini game that utilised this function was one that I dreaded. However it is good to know that these games are pretty rare occurrences, with the majority of the games being rhythm/puzzle centric.

The main thing that lets this game down is its story. Without giving away spoilers, Rhythm Thief starts off great, the opening delivered and it looks lovely. However it is as the story progresses that it slips away. This is in no way saying that the story is not engaging and that some of the characters offer real interest, it is merely the plot holes that stood out more. Things such as non-lethal bullet wounds, a blonde Napoleon and an ending that offers more questions than answers are what really ruffle the feathers. The ending is left just open enough to inspire a sequel, so hopefully in the near future we can re-visit Raphael and Phantom R.

On a final note, it should be mentioned just how beautiful this game is visually. The maps that are used to navigate Paris are given such detail and each different location that you visit are coloured so magnificently. The atmosphere and mood that the game creates is so incredible to interact with and encounter. Despite its short comings, Rhythm Thief is a pleasure to play.