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Nintendo DS Review: SimAnimals Africa

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I have played a few games in the Sims family, and find the concept of interacting and creating your own worlds educational, intriguing, and tons of fun. While the original SimAnimals focuses on animals in the wild/forest, SimAnimals Africa focuses on exotic animals that roam the savannahs and jungles of Africa.

The premise of the game — educating players on the habitats of such animals as crocodiles, zebras, rhinos, aardvarks, elephants, meerkats, gorillas, etc. — is an interesting and fairly good one,  However, I can't say that I was  blown away by this game, which is quite clearly geared towards to the tweenage crowd.  

In the beginning, the player is introduced to the basics of game play and instructed in the ways to build their habitats by unlocking items, appeasing the hungry crocodiles and other animals, and introducing animals to one another.  When this last thing is done, the animals in turn become friendly with each other, expand their species, and at times even get in little fights which lead to a break-up, causing the player to lose points/advancements on that particular area.  If the player does not do their job well, and doesn't do stuff like growing plants and trees which help sustain the lives of the animals and create a harmonic environment, they will not be allowed to move on to the next level. 

With six areas to complete in all, players are able to advance at a speed which they set.  One has to watch for signs of areas within the habitats that need attention in terms of such things as food, rain, water, communication among the animals, and keeping both animals and nature happy and prosperous. 

In addition to the basic needs you have to provide, players must aid animals in meeting various challenges, keep the animals' happiness levels up, and control over-population within the habitats.  Players are also able to earn and collect unique badges that add a fun little twist to the game.

Overall, SimAnimals Africa is a fun game with adorable animals and simple game play for the younger gamer.  The idea that the player is in control of the animals, their habitat and survival will appeal to those who enjoy games of interaction and simulation.  However, older and more serious game players will not get as much enjoyment from this particular Sims title. Fairly educational and fun, I would recommend SimAnimals Africa for gamers ranging in ages from 8-14, but anyone older than that will simply not find enough to hold their attention.

SimAnimals Africa is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for comic mischief. This game can also be found on: Nintendo Wii.

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