The Sims Makin' Magic Review

We're makin' magic with The Sims

Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 3rd November 2003

The Sims Makin' Magic

  • Developer: Maxis
  • Publisher: EA Games
  • Release Date: 31st October 2003

The Sims franchise never seems to go away does it? After the initial release of The Sims in 2000, fans have been plagued with expansion pack after expansion pack and what started off as a neighbourhood of Sims who did nothing but watch TV all day and spend half an hour on the toilet each time they visited the bathroom has turned into a massive game allowing Sims to go on holiday to sunny beaches, throw wild parties, keep pets and even become famous. With what looks to be the last expansion pack for The Sims, Makin’ Magic allows our favourite little people to step out of the ordinary and into a world of, well, magic.

It all starts when a mystery man drops off a package at your front door. The package is your magic starter kit and includes everything you need to get your magic venture up and running. Inside the box you will find a magic book, a wand charger, a few bits of ingredients to start you off and a magic portal leading to ‘Magic Town’.

The spell book which tends to resemble a state of the art computer features a number of spells however players must mix the ingredients together first to see what the spells actually do, only then will the true powers of the spell become apparent in the book.

Spells cover a wide range of uses from temporarily turning your neighbour into a toad to hypnotising a certain Sim to propose to you. Spells can also be used to make your Sims life easier, there are spells which take care of your housework, spells which take care of your garden and there are even spells which enable you to create an ‘imaginary friend’ to keep your social motives healthy. There are of course some drawbacks to spell casting which means a spell can backfire at any time, turning a neighbour into a toad for instance can burden you with a toad plaque and so learning how to do things at the right time and to the right Sim is invaluable to how effective your magic is.

The main challenge is finding the ingredients to make your spells, whilst some of it can be bought in Magic Town some needs to be made at home. The beehive which is one of the new features to the game can be bought in order to make beeswax and honey from home, these can be either used in spells or sold doubling up as a business venture should you be want to make a bit of cash. There are numerous other items which can be bought which allow Sims to make things from home such as the Spindle and the new plants which grow valuable fruit. Buying the means to make your own ingredients is expensive however and an alternative method is to see what you can find at the many stalls in Magic town and since magic is dependant on your Sims basic skills (cooking, mechanical, logic etc.) you may need to brush up on these before you can perform the spells you need anyway.

The new area, Magic Town can be either visited via magic portals (holes in the ground) or by phoning for the balloon to come and pick you up. The area itself is filled with magic stores, carnival rides, shows and new housing lots. A new currency is involved in the magic experience too; magic coins can be earnt by performing magic shows and can be used to buy things from the magic stores or to buy one of the spooky houses residing on the edge of Magic Town.

There are plenty of things to get up to whilst in Magic town too, like In the last expansion pack “superstar”, makin’ magic allows players to get up on the stage and perform their magic in front of the watchful eye of other Sims. If you’re feeling brave you can take part in a magical duel with one of the resident wizards which comes with its own awards and you can earn rare magic components by completing quests set out to you by the weird folk of Magic Town.

The one thing that spoils the expansion pack is the same thing that spoilt the last one, time. Basically if your Sim works he or she will simply not have enough time to fit in his social life (essential to gameplay), resting hours, fun activities and basic needs such as eating and using the bathroom along with trying to build up his magic abilities. In The Sims Superstar your Sim could not go on the famous ladder if he or she had another job and the early stages of the fame ladder didn’t earn half as much money as was needed to keep your Sim going which left players in a catch 22 situation, should I let him work, earn money and forget the fame thing or give up his job, let him starve and get him on the fame ladder? It is was very difficult to manage and Makin’ Magic is the same. One of my Sims starts work at 9am, this means he leaves the house at 8am, and he gets home at 3pm and is usually too tired to want to do anything meaning I had to choose between keeping his friends and learning magic. Trying to juggle everything does become a little tedious at times but when you manage to make it work it works well.

The expansion packs don’t really offer anything new to the game graphic wise nor do they claim too, there are a few new animations for your Sims and the new objects such as the baker’s oven and the various new floorings, roofs and wallpapers are a welcome addition to the game. Magic Town is very bright and child like which makes it stand out from the other expansion packs and the spooky mansions on the outskirts add their own character the ‘odd’ feel of Magic Town.

The Sims has seen many changes since it first grabbed a hold of PC gamers in 2000 and Makin’ Magic adds a little bit of fantasy to what was becoming a dated game. While it still has the old “Sims Time” problems it is fun to play and offers gamers enough new objects and game variety to keep the title fresh up until next year when the whole thing will start over again with The Sims 2.

Review Score: 7.6/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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