Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

MySims Agents

MySims Agents

Spring 2010 Video Games
Ages: All Ages
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Price: $49.99
Gaming System: Nintendo Wii
Combine Legos videogames with Nancy Drew videogames and you'll have some idea what MySims Agents looks and plays like. Definitely a videogame for young players--not teens and maybe not even 'tweens---this is a detective mystery game on training wheels.

Though one of the game's strong points, the storyline is super simple and linear. Players join the Sims Protection Agency and work to solve a series of interconnected mysteries that occur in the small town setting and surrounding areas. The town is cute and large enough for roaming about; the remote locations range from a mountain ski resort to the bayou to a scary mansion-all colorful but hardly complex.

The blockheaded characters aren't exactly multifaceted, and speak only gibberish that for anyone older than 10 may become annoying after the first five minutes. This requires players to read endless text boxes accompanying the garbled dialogue, perhaps qualifying this as educational!

What does count as educational is that each mystery requires players to apply kiddy doses of logical reasoning to outwit the bad guys-specifically Morcubus, the villainous CEO of MorcuCorp. Players start by creating their own detective, then work with sidekick agents to look for clues (requiring much roaming around the colorful scenes), to interrogate suspects and witnesses (yes, gibberish), and to use basic detective tools and spy gadgets. The gadgetry gets upgraded with "wins" in the over-simplified, can't-lose, gumshoe mini-games-from navigating mazes to building gizmos to solving environmental puzzles.

What's good here is the game's family-friendly sense of humor. The characters can be amusing, with age-appropriate slapstick and humorous quips (though a bit snarky sometimes). Perhaps the humor will distract from the game's shortcomings--tasks, mini-games and cases that become frightfully redundant. How many times can you track footprints, pick locks, and stack blocks to reach a high ledge or repair a machine? Well, this game tests those limits.

And the training wheels? The game's detective journal always provides the answer if, for a split second, the player isn't sure what to do. And that makes it a bit too easy, even for the youngest gamers.

Don Oldenburg   ©2010 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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Electronic Arts
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