Village Sim for Palm OS

by PocketGoddess on April 11, 2005

The Village Sim is about a tribe forced to flee their island home due to a volcano eruption; now they’re attempting to make a new home on a mysterious island filled with ruins and secrets. You start the game with five villagers, all of them untrained and rather confused. They have to get to work quickly though if they’re going to survive, and there are several specialties to choose from. Skills are broken down into five areas: Farming/Fishing (food production), Research (learning new technology), Breeding (having and raising children), Healing (curing sick villagers), and Construction (building huts and other structures). This isn’t a complicated RPG; the villagers simply learn by doing. Drag a villager to a large tree filled with fruit, and they’ll eventually learn to forage for food. Drag another villager to the ruins of a hut, and he’ll figure out how to fix it. The more then do a particular task, the higher their skill grows, and the villagers will go from “untrained” to “trainee” to “adept” to “master” as they progress through the levels.

Technology is also a very important part of the game. There are six different kinds of technology, and you gain new levels in each by spending tech points earned by doing research. The first is Harvesting, which concerns your food supply. Level two offers basic farming/agriculture, and level three allows you villagers to learn how to fish. Next is building, with the different levels improving the speed of building project completion as well as opening up new building types. Medicine is all about reducing the incidence of disease, improving your chances of healing sick villagers, and increasing the average life span. Science affect the rate at which you accumulate tech points, while Fertility is about the quantity and quality of births as the island population expands. Finally, spirituality is something of a mystery, but it seems to open up some of the secrets on the island.

While the Village Sim isn’t very complicated, it does require some strategy: how many villagers should be devoted to research? what skills should they be trained in? You have to keep a careful eye on the food supply, because the villagers will starve if they run out of food. But beyond that rather basic consideration, you need to decide whether you want to devote several villagers to research in order to quickly gain tech points, or whether you want to split things up and have one person do research, another fix up the huts, another explore the island, etc. It’s also a good idea to “cross-train” your villagers, making sure that more than one becomes proficient at gathering food, healing, conducing research, etc. It gets a little trickier when your villagers start having children (accomplished by dragging a villager of one gender on top of another; if things go well they’ll head inside a hut for some privacy and the female just might have a child)– a nursing mother won’t do anything else for the first two years of the life of her child, so you have to make sure that the village can sustain itself without the benefit of her labor. Children won’t be able to do any work for the village until they’re 14, and can’t have children of their own until after they mature at 18.

The game’s graphics are cute and engaging– the people, huts, foliage, and rocks are all well done in a cartoony style. The sound effects are particularly good, with island birds calling in the distance, the sound of waves hitting the beach, rustling sounds when a villager is foraging for food, a hammer when a hut is being built. There’s background music as well, and it does a good job of setting the mood for the game. The interface is logical and very simple to understand; the villagers are controlled by dragging them to a certain area, such as near a field that you want them to plant. You can move about the village by dragging your stylus on the screen or by using the Map screen that gives you a full overview of the area at a glance. You can access the game menu by tapping on the on-screen button. There are several options, including continuing the game or starting a new one, the Preferences menu, information about the puzzles contained within the game, the ability to beam Village Sim to another device, and the About menu with development credits. The Preferences menu allows you to turn sound effects on or off, control the volume of the background music, choose from one of three game difficulty levels (the default is medium) and select the game speed. This is important because Village Sim runs even when your device is off, unless you have the game paused. You can choose slow, medium, or fast, depending on your patience level and how long you want the gameplay experience to last. Finally, the puzzle menu shows you which puzzles you’ve solved. After playing for a week, I’ve solved four of them, and I’m anxious to see what some of the other secrets might be, especially that large rock in the center of the village. . .

I’ve been playing the Village Sim for a week now and I must admit to being completely addicted. Simluation-type games have long been one of my favorite genres (along with puzzles) and I always look forward to a new release from LDW Software. That abbreviation actually stands for “Last Day of Work” and now I know why! Village Sim is fun and engaging without being difficult or stressful. I often leave it running while the Zodiac is plugged in on my desk, checking the villagers’ progress at regular intervals. Village Sim started fairly slow, since there were only five villagers to start, but now I’ve got fifteen villagers and I’m working on building a new hut and improving the technology level of my village so I can unlock some of the other secrets. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

If you’d like to try it for yourself, you’ll need a Palm OS 5 device with 4MB of RAM. If you don’t have quite that much room, loading the background music files is an optional part of the installation. Village Sim is available now for $19.95 at the LDW web site.

PocketGoddess Rating for Village Sim: 5 out of 5


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