SimAnimals

 
(i)

 

You play as the hand of nature in this fabulous forest sim.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This nature simulation can teach you about the food chain in the forest and other environments including deserts, woodlands, and swamps. You play as an all powerful hand of nature, and can choose to be kind and nurturing or mean, but if you choose the latter, there are consequences.

Violence & scariness

While predators will eat other animals, the attack is not seen -- all you see is a cloud of dust. You can pick up and shake animals, or dump them into a stream, but there are consequences for bad behavior.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a nature simulation game that combines rules found in nature with fantasy. Animals can eat one another, but nothing is shown – all you see is a cloud of dust and then an announcement that an animal has died. Procreation is likewise not shown – animals are seen as being affectionate to one another (as in intertwining necks, etc) and then babies just show up. There is some comic mischief in suggested tasks which have negative consequences; as when you are told to provoke a skunk into spraying you, and when you do, your avatar (a white hand) faints. The Wii version deals with pollution issues. To play it alone, you must be old enough to read. But younger children will enjoy exploring this game with older siblings or parents on the Wii which offers cooperative gameplay for up to 4 players.

What's it about?

SIMANIMALS is a forest simulation in which you control all the animals and plants found in a variety of locations. The overall goal of the game is to keep everyone happy, which is monitored on a happiness bar shown at the top of the screen. Animals need food, shelter, sleep, mates, and fun. Plants need the right soil with the right amount of moisture. By planting trees, bushes, and flowers, you coax certain animals to check out your part of the forest. And when these herbivores arrive, their predators aren't far behind. You can intervene in their interactions including picking up animals and depositing them far away.

Playing as the white hand of nature, you start in just one environment which is open to your ministrations. However, as you make the plants and animals happy by doing things like dropping acorns near squirrels or moving maple trees into grassy areas, the happiness of your forest increases to the point that a new environment becomes available to you. You will find new animals and plants in each new environment including waddling ducks, shy skunks, busy beavers, and playful bears. And each location is full of unique challenges that you can choose to pursue or not.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This is a deep and intriguing nature simulation that will appeal to both kids and adults. It does a great job of teaching you how to play game by offering nature challenges. Most of the information you discover about the animals is true; but the game also introduces fantasy elements that add zing, including the ability to send lightning bolts to destroy intrusive plants.

By playing SimAnimals, kids will learn about the interconnectivity of plants and animals, and, in the Wii game, about how pollution affects us all. Since there is no "right" way to play in this giant sandbox, every time you start a new game it is different. Also, for kids who are real animal-lovers, one of the fantasy elements of the game is that you can reprogram a predators' eating habits so that no animal ever eats another. The Wii version allows up to four players to explore an environment together making it a great game for families to play together.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this simulation is true to life and in which ways it is fantasy. Would the game have been as fun if it didn't have the fantasy elements? Did it bother you when your animal friends were eaten by other animals? Or, did you protect them?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS
Price:$30-50
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:January 21, 2009
Genre:Simulation
ESRB rating:E for Comic Mischief (Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii)

This review of SimAnimals was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 9 and 9 year old Written bykptown December 12, 2010
 

interesting sim game

Interesting game, fun for child to learn about animal habitats and how different decisions make an impact thru the ecosystem. It was pretty easy to join my child and play together, although it takes some coordinating, which is also great. However, like some others have said, she was sad when some of her favorite animals die (it's always difficult, isn't it, after you name an animal?) and eventually she was so concerned about the toxic spill and its effect that she didn't want to play anymore! But she did enjoy it for quite a while and some kids wouldn't be especially bothered by these things. I may be reaching here, but it also has a positive message that people can make the earth more livable and protecting wildlife is a great thing.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Teen, 16 years old Written byWyndcaller March 19, 2014
 

A great, simple, easy-to-play simulation!

This is my personal favorite animal simulation game. Certainly good for kids 6 and up. It is easy to play, and quite fun!
What other families should know
Great messages
Easy to play/use
Parent of a 10 year old Written byThisbattymom April 22, 2010
 

Great game. Some stress for sensitive kids.

Can be stressful to sensitive kids; animals eat each other, some plants are limited, requires some planning/memory/shifting between environments. It is one of our favorites.
What other families should know
Great messages

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass