Rachel and I tend to really enjoy simulation games, a genre we’ve been exploring more outside of the Sims. On that note, this Flashback Friday is dedicated to another installment in that franchise, SimCity!
SimCity was originally released in 1989, and has since spawned on many different platforms, from consoles to the personal computers to portable and online versions to many spin-offs. It’s a city-building simulation, where the player starts with a piece of land and develops residential, commercial, and industrial buildings for the citizens to thrive. The player acts as the mayor and must provide services to the citizens — like hospitals, schools, and police stations — to keep them happy (low taxes also help).
While I’ve never played the original port on the SNES, I have played SimCity 4 for the PC. It’s not the best but, like many simulation games that I’ve played, strangely addicting. You’re in charge of districts that are part of one region. All the roads snap to a grid and all the zoning must be attached to the roads. Supposedly SimCity 4 has servers and you compete with others online for the highest score for your city, but the servers have never worked when I’ve played. Fortunately, the online competition isn’t too important to me, but I know for some it was a deal breaker.
Nevertheless, SimCity is a fun waste of time and just feeds into my love of simulation games, and the Cities: Skylines that just came out on the Nintendo Switch this month remind me of them. One day I’ll remember to download Cities: Skylines!
Have you played any of the SimCity games? What did you think of them?
On a fairly recent post, I mentioned how a comic app was coming to the Nintendo Switch. Then I heard about a mini comic series based on a game that we played and enjoyed almost a year ago…
Way back in November 2017 Rachel and I did a review for a visual novel/dating simulation game produced by the Game Grumps, a popular YouTube channel, called Dream Daddy. It was a fun game, one with fantastic characters, writing, and graphics, as well as celebrating gender and sexuality diversity.
Recently I heard that the Dream Daddy game is going to have comics based off of them. There will be five issues, with one available now and the rest being released within the next couple of months. Each issue will feature one to two of the dads that your character can romance in the game, and they’ll be available on quite a few digital platforms — Steam, Google Play, iTunes, Comixology — as well as a print version through Oni Press online shop, the folks who are publishing the series.
Considering Rachel and I enjoyed the game, I figured if we have a little extra money on our Steam account we’ll get an issue or two. Depending on the writing and the artwork, maybe we’ll splurge on all of the issues to see how the comics expand on the game lore.
Did you play Dream Daddy? What kind of comics based off of video games, or vice versa, have you read?
One of the last few game reviews Rachel and I did was for Game Dev Tycoon, and it reminded me of how much fun I have with games in the simulation genre. This Friday celebrates some of my favorite simulation games and franchises.
The Harvest Moon franchise was probably my first foray into the simulation genre. Valuing hard work and fostering healthy relationships with the community are key aspects in the game, and I enjoyed the virtual farm life with the animals. I definitely prefer some of the older games to the newer games, but the Switch’s Light of Hope seems to cater to some of the more nostalgic story and controls from the older titles.
Another farming simulation game, Stardew Valley is similar to Harvest Moon but with a few fantasy twists, such as defeating monsters in the mines, along with the ability to date whoever you want regardless of gender. The co-op mode is another plus to this game! Rachel and I are looking forward to giving it a go!
Game Dev Tycoon
Game Dev Tycoon is so much fun! The strategy needed to develop good games against the clock with the story events constantly evolving makes the game addicting. It’s a game I’ll keep going back to, and I’m on the hunt for more business-like tycoon games, if anyone has any suggestions!
The Sims franchise is horribly addicting. Every time I turn the game on, it’s hard to want to do anything else in my free time. Recently, I’ve been testing the newer Sims 4 Seasons expansion pack, and I’ve been having a good time. With the expansions and free reign to act out whatever kind of stories you want, the Sims probably won’t be getting deleted from my computer anytime soon.
And it’s the end of March, already… A quarter of the year is over, everyone!
This month’s Flashback Friday is about a simulation game that I honestly have never heard of until earlier this month, but it seemed interesting to me! How many of you have heard of this game?
Aerobiz is a business simulator, specifically for running your own international airline. It was a game for the SNES and Genesis game consoles that was released way back in 1992 for Japan and 1993 for North America.
The game features two time frames to play the game through, 1963 to 1995 and 1983 to 2015. During these time frames, as the CEO of your airline, you pick a city for your headquarters, negotiate for slots in airports in other cities, buy airplanes for your flights, set the prices for the flights, and determine the budget for the flights and airline services, to name a few tasks.
After each player takes their turn, the game shows any world events that will effect the airlines. For example, a city hosting the Olympic games will boost traffic for the airlines. It will then show the quarterly or annual, depending on the timing, results, showcasing which player has gotten the most profits so far. The game is won if a player links all of 22 major cities of the world while carrying a certain number of passengers, depending on the difficulty level, while still making a profit. If a whopping 128 turns pass in the game without anyone meeting these conditions, the game is considered a loss.
I have never played this game, but I always enjoyed simulators, like Harvest Moon and… well, the Sims. Business scenarios where I can crush my competition sounds right up my alley! I heard about this game from ProJared, one of the YouTube guests at EGLX — this was his answer when someone asked during the Normal Boots Q & A panel what their guilty pleasure game was. Lo and behold, he then uploaded a couple of videos to his game play channel showcasing this game, and Rachel and I were pretty entertained!
Perhaps I’ll be able to find this game on an emulator some day.
Have you ever played Aerobiz? Did you enjoy the game?
This month’s Flashback Friday is celebrating a small franchise that worked with the Nintendo DS’s microphone in an interesting way.
Nintendogs was first released in April 2005 on the Nintendo DS in three different versions: Dachshund & Friends, Lab & Friends, and Chihuahua & Friends. The series were re-released twice later, ending with a bundle called Dalmatian & Friends.
The game was a pet simulator starring, what else, puppies. Each version had a set amount of breeds for the player to adopt, name, and take care of via grooming, walks, feedings, and teaching them tricks. The dogs could get dressed up and compete in tournaments as well. The main gimmick of the game was using the microphone to speak to them.
With the Nintendo DS’s microphone, the player was able to verbally teach the puppies their name and tricks. There are “hand” motions via the stylus that you were able to make to help with the tricks as well, but the microphone was the main attraction. It worked fairly well, especially combined with the Nintendo DS’s graphics. The puppies were adorable!
Have you ever played Nintendogs? Did you enjoy the game?
Title: Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness Developer: Marvelous Interactive Publisher: Natsume
Platform: Nintendo DS
Release Date: August 2008
How I got the game: I got it as a gift years ago.
I’m usually a sucker for the Harvest Moon franchise — they’re my go-to relaxing games. The older games tend to have a basic story and simple goals, and I feel that the newer games are trying a bit too much in having overarching story lines and encompassing goals. Island of Happiness is one of those games that was in between, still simple enough to be relaxing but with a few gimmicks that, in my opinion, were not needed.
Island of Happiness is similar to other games in the Harvest Moon franchise in that it’s premise is you, as the main character, starting a ranch from scratch. One of your main objectives is to raise crops and animals as best as you can while also befriending the villagers in the town. Wooing potential spouses and raising a family are also staple aspects of the Harvest Moon games, and Island of Happiness is no exception.
Harvest Moon games tend to give you free range when it comes to customizing your ranch, allowing you to grow whatever crops you want (in season, of course) and raise whatever combination of animals you wish. Want all chickens? Go for it. Want to have your field covered with tomato plants? You can do that. There’s no one telling you what to raise. Selling the crops and animal byproducts is the best way to earn money for your ranch, and some products are more profitable than others, so most take that into account. Products are also used in cooking dishes and gifts to friends and romantic interests as well.
With that said, Island of Happiness was on the Nintendo DS and, as such, Nintendo thought it would be best to utilize the touch screen as much as possible. It was more of an annoyance rather than feeling innovative. You move your character with the stylus on the touch screen while the D-Pad buttons was used to equip tools. This was rectified in the immediate sequel, Sunshine Islands.
Island of Happiness also had a more complicated method of growing your crops. In early Harvest Moon games, the best way to grow crops was to plant them in-season and water them once a day. Weather plays a part in helping crops grow and, unless there is a storm or blizzard, most days granted enough sunlight to help your ranch. Island of Happiness had some hidden mechanic where each type of crop needed a number of water and sun “points” in order to grow as quickly and strongly as possible. Later in the game, it is possible to build a Greenhouse to help control the weather. However, considering all of the possible crops that are in the game, trying to figure out and remember all the needed points was an unnecessary mechanic.
The graphics of Island of Happiness took a little getting used to. When I first saw the 3D models, I wasn’t too sure of them. However, the graphics grew on me, with the areas of the island being vivid and fun to explore, and the villagers all being distinct (with the exception of the minor NPCs).
Music in the Harvest Moon series was always enjoyable to me, even if the tunes do tend to make me sleepy. They’re relaxing and calming as they play in the background while you farm or explore, being perfect in matching the mood of the genre and game play.
Island of Happiness opens up with your character on a boat heading toward a new land. However, the boat gets caught in a bad storm, resulting in your character and a couple of others being shipwrecked on an island. Worry not, though — your fellow island refugees are a small family that has connections and experience with farming and shipping products.
Your character and the family, consisting of a brother and sister, their mother, and their grandfather, decide to stay on the island and work to make it habitable. You agree to be the rancher while the family runs a shipping business, helping to incite trade between your island and the mainland. Your goal is to really build up and clean the island to tempt other people to move in so the island can continue to flourish.
The more people that move in, the more relationships you can develop. Building up friendships can lead to new events and festivals, new areas to explore and, if you wish, romance that can lead to having a family.
Island of Happiness, despite some of the gameplay mechanics, is one of my favorite Harvest Moon installments. Developing the island and luring new characters to move in is enough of a challenge so farming doesn’t become so routine. There’s always something to aim for, which is why this is one game that gets plenty of use.
Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness gets…
4 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
This month’s Flashback Friday celebrates the Harvest Moon franchise, a series that dates back twenty years. It is now known as Story of Seasons rather than Harvest Moon due to copyrights and publishers and such, but it’s still Harvest Moon to me. It’s a simulation game that revolves around reviving a dying farm, and is definitely more entertaining than it sounds!
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, released in North America on the GameBoy Advance on November 17, 2003, was my first introduction to Harvest Moon. A good friend of mine gave it to me for my birthday or Christmas one year and he attempted to explain it to me as I had never heard of the thing before. He quickly assured me that, although it was all about farming and maybe getting married, it was an addicting game. I thanked him, always happy to get new video games, and didn’t remember it for a little while until I eventually tried it out.
Since then, I generally do my best to collect the Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons games. They are addicting little buggers, even better since the games started to allow players to play as girls, and prove to be great at giving me a challenge. I focus more on raising amazing livestock and having a fantastic farm full of crops, but there is also the fun aspect of befriending and wooing other villagers.
In all the Harvest Moon games, I’ve only gotten married once and that was in the original Friends of Mineral Town. I had married Ellie — I believe the reason was because she was the first to get to a red heart, so I thought, “Eh, what the heck?” Although I’ve always done my best to remember the other villagers’ birthdays and talk to them every day, the marriage and children option wasn’t something that I favored in the series. It was a fun perk, but not a necessity for me to enjoy the game. I’ve gotten close to being married in the other games, many times with more than one option to marry at that, but it wasn’t something that I cared to do.
Perhaps on my next go-round with the games, I’ll opt to figure out what the fuss is all about regarding marriage and the children…
How about you? Do you enjoy the Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons games?