There was a time when playing video games was all about adolescent men, living in their parents’ basement and spending all their free time playing on their gaming consoles. When going into a gaming store as an older woman to buy a game earned you the question from the sales person: “a present for your son?” When girls just weren’t into gaming, they had other hobbies to occupy them.
All of this has changed. The gaming market has opened up for everyone, young and old, male or female. And it’s not just playing games on dedicated gaming consoles anymore, but you can play games on mobile devices too. That’s why I decided to make a series of recommendations for handheld gaming. after all, you can never have too many gaming choices.
Here’s the first article, the Best Real Life Simulation games to play on the go! These are games without goals, you can play them like you want. It’s quite a difficult distinction to make, but I feel that other simulation games fall either in the City Builder/Farming Simulation games and Time Management Simulation games, which will feature in next articles.
Animal Crossing (DS, 3DS, Mobile and Switch)
In Animal Crossing Wild World for the DS, New Leaf for the 3DS, Pocket Camp for mobile and New Horizons for the Switch you live a virtual life, chatting with the villagers, decorating the town and your house, making patterns for your clothes, tending flowers, catching bugs and fish. You have no set goals, you can just live your life as you please. There’s is a pesky merchant, Tom Nook, prompting you to buy a bigger house. You’ll have a mortgage to pay, but as for deadlines, he is pretty laid back. No hurry!
I’ve written numerous articles of my experiences with this amazing game, but I guess the one that sums it up best is this article.
Castaway Paradise (mobile)
If you can’t wait to play just such a game like Animal Crossing on mobile, you might want to try Castaway Paradise in the meantime. In this mobile game you are washed ashore on, you guessed it, an island, but at least the island is not uninhabited. You are welcomed by the mayor, and after the kelp beard is taken off you your looks are revealed. The art style is very different from Animal Crossing, but the game is clearly inspired by it. Here too you make a living, help other islanders and develop areas. Like in most free to download games, patience is needed, unless you want to put real money in. You can read a bit more about the game in this blog.
Tomodachi Life (3DS)
Imagine putting a lot of little characters, images of real people or character you made up, into an apartment building and constantly looking in on them, while they lead their own life. That is what this game is about in a nutshell. They appreciate you visiting them, to feed them, or put a new outfit on them. And play mini games with them. But they lead their own life, having friends, having arguments, falling in love. You never know what to expect, it’s like a shoe box diorama!
If you like to know more about the game, here’s some more info!
Nintendogs (DS and 3DS)
Allergic to dog hairs? These games make perfect canine companions without leaving your house to go for a walk on rainy days. You can pet and cuddle your dog, teach him tricks, he knows his name and responds to your voice. And even walking him is fun, you’ll meet interesting dog owners and find little presents. Presents that will in turn make your dog even cuter! You can take him on shows and courses, trying to win prizes, and there’s a ton of collecting to do.
The DS version, Nintendogs, was available in four types of dogs: Chihuahua, Dachshund, Dalmatian and Labrador. For cat lovers, these cuties were added to the 3DS versions too. This version came in three types of dogs: Toy Poodle, French Buldog and Golden Retriever.
The Sims (PC, mobile, DS/3DS)
I think there isn’t a game series that is as widely known as The Sims. My bet is that every teenager has heard about the game at one point in time, and I know quite a lot of women who still enjoy the games very much. The games are what they call sandbox games, they don’t have a goal. The player creates virtual people called “Sims” and places them in houses and helps direct their moods and satisfy their desires. Players can either place their Sims in pre-constructed homes or build them themselves.
The games come in various sorts on various platforms. Most familiar are the PC games, but they are quite successful on mobile and DS/3DS as well. Which is the one for you depends on the device you want to play on. I don’t play the game myself, but my teenage daughter assures me that The Sims 3 is the best one on PC, while The Sims Freeplay is quite good on mobile too.
Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times (US)/
Enchanted Folk and the school of Wizardry (EU) – DS
This older game from 2009 was sold at the time as an Animal Crossing clone. And while there are certainly similarities, the game can stand on its own too. Your character is a student at the Wizardry school, learns magic spells, plays pranks using the spells on fellow students, and tries to solve a mystery once a month. You catch fish and bugs, plant flowers and bushes and decorate your room. Meanwhile the goal is to make the town a better town, and to become an ace magician.
In Japan, the game got three successors, both on the DS and the 3DS. A pity Konami couldn’t be persuaded, despite several petitions, to bring the new games West too.
Chibi Robo Park Patrol (DS)
If you ask me, Chibi Robo is a vastly underrated video game hero. This title is one of the few that were released in the West, available at the time at Walmart in the US. In later days Chibi was released too as a platform game, but this one is a real simulation game.
In it, Chibi is in charge of revitalising a garden by battling smog and sowing flowers. He meets some very special characters and helps them making their dreams come true. A beautiful and quirky game and a lovable little hero, a must try if you can get your hands on the game somewhere.
Minecraft creative mode (PS Vita, mobile)
I guess that, like the Sims, Minecraft is a well known game, even for people who aren’t really into playing video-games. This is a sandbox game, which means: no restrictions, no good way of playing it. Just use your imagination and create something you adore. You can do this in creative mode, which Minecraft offers too. You don’t have to survive or fight mobs, just make a world that’s totally you.
If you’d like to know more about the game, here’s an article I made for another website about it in the past.
I feel these are the best example of real life strategy games. Many of you will feel there’s a game that’s missing, but have patience until I make my list for City Builders/Farming Sims and (Time) Management Sims. Somehow there aren’t many games like the unique Animal Crossing and Sims, most incorporate another element too.
This list will be a living document though. If you have another game to add that’s just perfect and fits in this category, please let me know!
Castaway Paradise looks like an awesome and charming game. I will read up on it.
I am not surprised to see Animal Crossing on the top. It’s certainly deserved.
I do agree, but the numbers aren’t ranked as best first. Good tip though by the way, should have made that clearer!
Of these, Animal Crossing is definitely my favorite. I’ve spent countless hours on each game. Also, I finally got the Switch version of Minecraft so I’ll finally be trying that game out. For additions to your list, I think Fantasy Life would fit the bill.
I’ll be curious to hear what you think of Minecraft! Fantasy Life is a difficult one to place, indeed. I was thinking more along the lines of Simulation RPG, like the Atelier games and Rune Factory!
I’ll be sharing that in the future for sure! It’s interesting so far, coming from a Minecraft newbie!
This is a great list! Of course, the Animal Crossing series is my favorite type of game like this. 🙂 I never really could get into Minecraft for some reason though, don’t know what my problem is with that one! Maybe I’m not creative enough, haha!
I can’t imagine you not being creative enough, of course you are! I did like it a lot, but since I played Dragon Quest Builders I’ve seen an even better way of being creative with building.
Aww well thank you! I guess maybe when I played it, I wasn’t really in the right mindset or something. Also, I was playing it on my iPad, so maybe that’s why. I want to try it again though! I want to play Dragon Quest Builders as well! 🙂