Review: My Friends (Nintendo DS)

My Friends Case CoverMy Friends
Developer: Oxygen Interactive
Publisher: Oxygen Interactive
Genre: Simulator
Release Date: 08/21/09

A game where you create your own friends and then have to play with them and give them gifts to keep them happy? Sounds like a weird stripped out version of The Sims, only you don’t grow up and it’s aimed at younger kids. Oh wait, it is! But there’s still something about this little DS title that had me playing it quite a bit.

Story/Modes
This is more of a modes game than a story game. You can share between other friends who have the game and go into chat mode with them while in the game, which is nice, but I don’t have any friends in my town who have a DS or have the game to test that out on so we’ll have to take their word for it.

You start off by creating an avatar for yourself. The creation mode is pretty simplified, but with the color and clothing options you can create a wide variety of looks so you and your friends are easily recognizable on screen, even when pulled way back for the different games you can play. So after you’ve created yourself and a few friends you’re dropped into a playground where you can greet them, play games, trade gifts you collect in-between games, and even open up new areas to romp in. There isn’t much meat here, but it is fun, which surprised me as I wasn’t expecting a whole lot and ended up enjoying myself.

Story/Modes Rating: Enjoyable
01 creation

Graphics
For a DS game, the visuals aren’t too bad, but they’re not ground-breaking. The other thing I didn’t like about it is the kind of distorted and misshapen look to the characters you create. It’s like an Americanized version of the chibi form from an anime, and I’m not sure it works. Some of the characters you can create look downright creepy, which I think might disturb some kids a bit. I know it disturbed me. Visually, it’s passable, but like I said it’s not an award winner.

Graphics Rating: Above Average

Sound
This is another section that just kind of does the job and nothing more. All the noises that you and your friends utter in game are all generic, and sometimes are a bit odd. The music is generic and forgettable, but this is kind of expected in a game geared more for kids than anything else. I wish I could say more about it, but there isn’t much more to say about it.

Sound Rating: Decent

Control and Gameplay
The game primarily uses the touchscreen and the DS stylus to play most of the games, but there are a few cases where you’ll be hitting a few other buttons in games to get that added boost, like hitting the L button to get a speed boost in a game of tag. The stylus is very responsive and you move where it tells you, which is VERY refreshing from most of the other DS games I’ve played in the past. I didn’t cringe after a while when I realized it was going to work just fine and I didn’t have to grind my way through the game with a bad control set-up. It works great.

02 parkGameplay wise it’s fairly straight-forward. You’re trying to keep any and all of your friends happy with you, so you play games with them like tag or some variation on that theme. There are quite a few variations I found out. You run around the area you’re in playing the games and in between you look for prizes or collectibles that have dropped to give to your friends or open up new areas. There are other games but tag seems to be the focus at the start and it branches from there.

Depending on the personality and likes you gave your friends, they’ll like or appreciate the food, surprises or toys you give them more or less depending on color and the theme. For instance my wife’s character in the game loved green and was falling all over herself when I gave her anything that was green and her friend meter shot through the roof for awhile.

The more you collect and play the more you unlock in the game, and each area offers something new for the mini-games you play. The garden you get after the playground changes your tactics for certain games entirely as you now have things you can run around to keep away from whoever is it in tag, which can be really handy, or if you’re not great with the stylus can put you into the barrier and get hung up on it, getting you caught. There’s quite a bit of variations on the themes so it’s not quite so boring as you’d might think and it was a lot of fun trying to keep everyone happy and playing with me.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Good

03 hockeyReplayability
As for replaying, this game has you playing the mini-games throughout and collecting the varying prizes and trying to open up the new areas, and while it’s fun, the real thing to draw you back is playing with the friends you make in game. If you don’t like that you’re not really going to want to play this one again. Personally I had a blast and will be going back to this one when I have some spare time. It’s a cute game that has you playing it all over again when you least expect it.

Replayability Rating: Good

Balance
This is a hard game to diagnose balance-wise. The more you play the faster you unlock things and keep your friends happy, but if you’re not very good at the mini-games despite the great controls, you’re probably going to throw up your hands in frustration until you realize you still get prizes around the level even if you don’t get first place. So you still get prizes no matter how bad you play, and just like real life, unless you have to win at everything, you’re just having a bit of fun with your friends.

Here’s where it gets dicey. The game itself is $30 right now, which in and of itself is a good price for a new DS game, but personally I wouldn’t get it for that price and I’d look for it cheaper. It’s not that I didn’t have fun playing it, but I think it’d be a better $20 title. There’s just not enough for that extra 10 bucks.

Balance Rating: Mediocre

04 customizeOriginality
There are a whole slew of games with “ËœMy’ in the title, and while this one has a smattering of The Sims feel to it as far as making and keeping friends, that’s really where the similarity ends. This is kind of like a playground popularity and games simulator than anything else and as such I think it’s fairly original in that regard. The games you do play are almost all variations on tag or run rabbit run and in that area it can kind of get old real fast if you’re not entertained by that.

Originality Rating: Good

Addictiveness
I ended up taking this to the hospital with me while my wife was having an asthma attack. Yeah, this can be a bit addicting if you’re really enjoying it, which really, really surprised me. It’s like one of those games where you have to collect everything and keep everyone happy, but you don’t have to go insane micro-managing everything, so instead of a nightmare it’s a ton of fun and fairly addicting. I realize though this may not be the case for everyone, and the crowd that this is aimed at might not be nearly as into it as I got, but it did have a bit of that aspect to it.

Addictiveness Rating: Very Good

05 prizesAppeal Factor
The creepy looking character art on the box, and well the creepy looking friends you create may fascinate people, or may just scare them away. I probably would not have picked this one up at all honestly for a child the age they’re aiming at on this one just on first glance alone, but the game plays smooth, and while there isn’t a lot to it, it is a lot of fun to mess with. I just don’t think people will give it a shot, and that’s a shame. It’s not game of the year material but it’s a fun time-waster and really that’s all you need in a video game.

Appeal Factor Rating: Below Average

Miscellaneous
One thing I didn’t like is there is no way to easily have a shared game on the same DS cartridge. While I probably won’t be playing this much as I don’t have my own DS and use my wife’s for reviews (I’ll be getting mine with the new Pokemon games), it would have been nice to have separate save games for her to play on as she thought this game looked cute and I’d like to not have to wipe my own save data, which isn’t easy to do either, so she can play. Most people aren’t going to share their DS games like so making it not that big a deal, but it would have been nice to have.

Miscellaneous Rating: Poor

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Enjoyable
Graphics Rating: Above Average
Sound Rating: Decent
Control and Gameplay Rating: Good
Replayability Rating: Good
Balance Rating: Mediocre
Originality Rating: Good
Addictiveness Rating: Very Good
Appeal Factor Rating: Below Average
Miscellaneous Rating: Poor
FINAL SCORE: ABOVE AVERAGE GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize My Friends is a cute and fun set of mini-games with a few nice social aspects thrown in to make it a bit different than most games in this genre. While there isn’t a lot of depth to it, it does have a bit of addictiveness to it, and while I find the art and design of the characters a bit creepy, it might just be my aesthetic kicking in. There isn’t a lot to offer the hardcore here at all and is definitely for casual players and even more for the younger crowd. Some fun can be had by us older ornery gamers, but I’m betting most of us will find better ways to waste away our time.

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