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Nintendo DS Review: Our House

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Our House for the Nintendo DS is part sim, part mini-game collection.  The player is the new contractor in town with a new starter cottage. They have to take jobs around town, which include various combinations of the mini-games, then use the money they earn to furnish the house. Like in real life, the goal is to earn money and equity and buy a bigger house and better furniture. 

Geared for the younger set, the mini-games are not particularly taxing. To paint, one has to spackle, mix the paint, and apply it evenly to the wall (go slow or the coat won't be even, just like in real life).  Even less complicated is the plumbing game, which merely requires turning dripping valves. The moving game involves flicking furniture out the door and there is a flooring puzzle game and a mice flicking game. The most involved is the tiling game: one must scrape up the old tile, caulk, lay new tiles, and sweep. All the games are timed except the redecorating game (once the renovations are done, one gets to feng shui the room).

The player must decorate their house with specified furniture for each room, which takes a lot of the creativity out of the game. One cannot buy a new house (and thereby moving to the next level and get new jobs) until the old house is correct, and doing the contracting jobs are not enough to buy everything one needs to move ahead. To make up the difference, they must take jobs from the classifieds. These are the stand-alone mini games, and only pay $20 to $40 each. As there is $3,000+ worth of furniture that must be purchased before one can move up, this is frustrating. I ended up playing the easiest, best-paying game over and over, without thinking about it, until I could move to the next level.

The controls take some getting used to. All the mini-games are fairly straight-forward, mostly 2D scenes without any camera movements. The decorating portion is weird because one can only move furniture with the camera positioned at an awkward angle, not quite aerial, not quite straight-forward, and I found myself constantly switching between that and the “wall” view, which makes it easier to see the room, but doesn't allow for furniture to be moved.

This is definitely a game geared towards kids, and while it will probably work with the younger set, anyone over the age of 10 or 11 will, most likely, be bored. There is a good variety of mini games for them to play, and other than the time limit, the tasks are not complicated. 

Our House is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB

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