The Sims spinoff titles always end up kind of weird. I have a personal theory that all but two of The Sims spinoff games were actually games meant for a completely different IP that had been extensively re-branded in order to ride on the parent-franchise’s coattails for a while. Every now and then you’ll get one that’s more or less a limited version of the simulation-based PC titles, but to this day that has happened exactly twice. Quite a few spinoffs have been RPG-like, and most of them follow a story, a feature that the sandboxy Sims series just isn’t known for.
And then there was The Sims 2 for Nindendo DS, which was batshit fucking insane. I lost my original cartridge for the game years ago (quite possibly on purpose), and until I saw someone on tumblr bring it up several months ago, I had mentally written the game off as naught but a fever dream.
But apparently it was real because you can totally buy the game off of eBay for less than $10, as well as download one of a number of ROMs in a language of your choice.
And, just for the record, I still wish I had imagined the whole thing.
The Sims is a series of games about making fake computer people and then ruining their lives with the exact same incompetence with which you have already ruined your own. Your fake computer people would then die in a terrible housefire. Unless you were playing The Sims 2, in which case, if they had managed to get so far not dying in a fire they would instead die from old age.
But none of the above is relevant to the game I’m playing today because the version of The Sims 2 released on the Nintendo DS was about playing a single, effectively immortal avatar character who ran a hotel in the middle of the desert, in which the same people come to stay over and over again. Oh, and every now a guest goes completely insane, wanders out into the middle of the desert and has to be dragged back against their will.
Despite being apparently built upon the final resting place of an Old One, Strangetown (which consists of a hotel, three other buildings and a cow) has a surprisingly good tourist business.
The only thing set in stone about your character in this game is that you are an absolutely terrible driver. You start the game careening off of an empty desert road and crashing into the only thing around for miles, a minuscule, and possibly cursed, town in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. This is how Stephen King novels start.
After the opening cutscene ends, and we select to start a new game, we’re brought to character creation, where we make our sim. We get to pick our gender, skin, hair, clothes and an ‘aspiration’ that gives the player some kind of gameplay perk. We’re going to be going with the Party aspiration, for reasons which will be clear in a bit. And, although the pink hair and coconut bikini were tempting, the alien shirt and green skirt is more my up of tea.
And so begins the adventure of Exx; drunk-driver, kilt-wearer.
Upon leaving character creation we we accosted by one of the people we just tried to murder with our car. He introduces himself as Jebidiah S. Jerky, local handyman, and then immediately offers to fix our car, despite the whole attempted-murder thing. He says it’ll take a few days to fix and tells us to go check into the local hotel so we’ll have somewhere to sleep while we’re waiting. It shouldn’t be too hard to find the hotel, because there are exactly four buildings in this entire town. In fact, it’s right in front of us.
The hotel lobby is dark and completely devoid of life save for the sleeping desk clerk, who is so good at his job that the sends you, potential customer, down the basement to restock the furnace powering the hotel. That is, right after mentioning that his last boss just recently stormed out of the job.
Like the hotel, the furnace room is easy to find, because the way is lit by the glow of the radioactive material used to refuel the furnace, which you must pick up on the way down there. With your bare hands. I think there was a good reason the concierge passed the task off on the first poor asshole who walked in the door…
While we’re in the furnace room we find and pick up a collectible licence plate. I think you get some kind of reward when you find them all. So after we shove all of those ‘nuclear rods’ we found into the furnace while wearing no protection whatsoever, we’re free to go back up to the lobby and tell the concierge he has his stupid shitty electricity back. But first, why not look around the rest of the basement? There are a bunch of interesting looking doors but none of them open yet save for the one leading to the walk-in freezer.
There’s a hanging slab of meat that we can punch in here and a skill point spawns behind it. Also notice that our Sanity meter drains just from being in the freezer. That’s your character’s needs and happiness all rolled into one. Sanity is increased by doing things that take care of yourself (like sleeping or showering) and decreased by doing anything else or by not doing anything at all. We come out of the freeze with one skill point in business and a little less mental stability.
Going back up the lobby, the concierge thanks us and then hands us a letter that was left there by the last manager of the hotel right before he stormed out.
Apparently being able to turn on the power generator is grounds enough to be put in charge of an entire hotel despite having no prior experience and a questionable driving record. Maybe it was that single Business skill point that pushed us over the threshold into hotel manager territory.
Or maybe everyone who already lives in this town is fucking incompetent.
Or maybe this is some kind of plot to lure innocent newcomers into this crapheap of a town so that they may be sacrificed to the half-dead eldritch entities who live underneath it, whose presence causes everyone nearby to slowly go insane.
Find out the answers to all this (and less!) in the next episode of
Hotel Simulator 2004 The Sims 2.