Village Sim pulls time tested sim features from various games and blends them all together to form one well balanced game for mobile platforms. It can best be described as a mix between The Sims and Age of Empires with just a touch of Myst to spice up and extend the gameplay. The result is a game that fits perfectly on the small screen of a Palm device.
Village Sim begins with a couple of islanders fleeing their home because it was destroyed by a volcano. They wash ashore a mysterious small island and must rebuild their miniature civilization. There are a few landmarks and remnants of a past village, and the stranded islanders will take over and use the already built huts, wells, and research areas for themselves. With these starting elements in place, the islanders will have the bare essentials available but will have to build new facilities to expand their new village. At the start of the game, the island can only comfortably support 5-7 villagers as food is in short supply and housing is limited. The player must direct the villagers to build new huts and find new ways of gathering food.
The interface for the entire game is simple and intuitive. There is an overhead map screen that displays the entire island. Tap any part of the map from the overhead display to zoom in to that location. From there you can drag a villager to the berry bush and he or she will begin to forage for food. Or you can drag the villagers to the debris present on the beach and they will begin to clean it up. Each time a villager successfully completes a task, he will gain experience points in one of the following categories: Farming/Food Gathering, Research, Breeding, Healing, or Construction. The more experience points the villager has in a category the more likely they are to find lots food, or heal a sick person, etc. There is also a villager detail screen that can be accessed from the main screen that displays all the necessary villager stats. This screen shows the villager?s age, sex, health, favored job, and experience level in each category. You can also scroll through all of your villagers from this screen and then exit out into the overhead screen with that particular person highlighted. The menus and screens are clean and work perfectly for a stylus-based game.
As the island community grows, they will begin to discover traces of a past civilization. Ruins can be dug up, old gardens made green again, and secret cave passages can be opened. Each puzzle you uncover provides another clue about the island?s mysterious history. It is this extra gameplay element that gives the game more guts than most sim titles. Hence the parallels to the classic PC game, Myst. Wanting to discover more about the island makes you want to turn the game on each day for a at least a couple minutes to see what your islanders have may unearthed. The village will also continue to grow as the islanders perform their duties even while the power is off. In this fashion you can train your newly born villagers to perform the specific task you want in 5-10 minutes a day. Turn one villager into a farmer, another into a scientist and another into a breeder in about 5 to 10 minutes each day and shut the power off. When you come back the next day the village should have some extra food and maybe a newborn or two. If there are enough scientists in the village they will eventually earn enough science points that can be spent on new technologies like Farming, Fishing, or Spirituality to help the community grow and discover new things, much like in Civilization or Age of Empires.
Village Sim is one of the best mobile games I have played for the simple reason that it?s perfectly designed to provide exactly what you want from a game on your Palm. A Palm game needs an intuitive interface that mostly relies on easy stylus commands and the occasional button push. A Palm game needs to hold your interest and can be played in either 5 minute increments while you?re waiting for an appointment or for a 30 minute session while you need to be entertained in a stale airport terminal. You play Palm games because you are bored and waiting for someone, otherwise you?d be at home on Xbox Live playing Halo 2. A Palm game achieves greatness if you actually get the urge to play it, even if it?s just for a few minutes a day. Village Sim is that Palm game. The graphics aren?t perfect, but they are clean and display their purpose. The music and sound effects fit the island theme perfectly. The gameplay is a perfectly created blend of sim gameplay elements. Perhaps the unique gameplay elements later become the only real downfall of this game since the replay value decreases quite a bit after you uncover all of the island?s puzzles. Still, it can take you over a month to complete all the puzzles if the game is played on normal speed for 5 to 10 minutes a day. If you enjoy playing the occasional game on your Palm device, Village Sim is worth the $20. If you don?t believe me you can download a free demo and see for yourself. You have no excuse not to check out this game.