The Mims: Beginning Preview

By Joe Jasko |

A whimsical new godlike game

Call me narcissistic, but sometimes it just feels so good to be a god – in a godlike video game that is! For you see, the god life actually chose me, when a stray asteroid careened into a spaceship carrying a crew of funny-looking orange creatures called the Mims. When the Mims crash-landed on some foreign planets, I just happened to be watching, and the next thing you now, these guys start depending on me to get them home safe. It’s just good for them that actually doing so is nothing short of a godlike great time!

The Mims: Beginning has been in development over the past 18 months by the three-man studio of Squatting Penguins, and although the game is about 90% complete at the time of this writing, they’ve decided to turn to Indiegogo for one final push of crowdfunding support. I recently had a chance to go hands-on with an early beta build of the work in the progress, and I have to say there are plenty of reasons to donate to the Mims’ ambitious (and adorable) adventures.

The Mims: Beginning

From the moment you first boot up The Mims: Beginning, you’ll immediately get a feel for the game’s lighthearted sense of humor and whimsical island settings. The titular orange creatures are always a delight to behold, whether it’s in their cutscene dialogue referring to the player as “you, behind the screen,” or just from watching the little guys meander around the greenery and wildlife that make up the main game’s terrain.

Playing an all-powerful god to the Mims is certainly fun, but it’s also a big responsibility. The game weaves a number of classic strategy mechanics into its gameplay, and the main items on your god itinerary are usually getting the Mims to build various structures and power sources to harvest more Bio Mass for further exploration and discoveries. The Bio Mass substance itself is derived from island fruit, which must first be planted and extracted by your little orange colonists.

The fruit and Bio Mass energy have other purposes in the game as well, which you’ll need to take full advantage of when the fun animal system comes into play. After researching a given animal, players will have the chance to interact with the unique-looking beasts as they roam around the island, and each one comes with their own respective benefits and challenges in managing the future of your Mims.

The Mims: Beginning

Your ultimate goal in the game is to make your settlements strong enough so that the Mims have enough resources to fix their spaceship and head on home. Each of the currently planned 20 levels in the final game build will take place on a different island, and follow different groups of Mims who have all been stranded across all ends of this foreign world.

In addition, you’ll also need to heavily rely on your godlike PSI powers to keep things on the islands running like clockwork. For instance, once your Mims start showing signs of fatigue from a hard day of building, you’ll be able to quickly reinvigorate the stamina of all those within range of your PSI circle. Other PSI powers and abilities gradually become available the further you progress in the game, and it makes for a really nice way of giving you a more direct means of interaction with your subjects.

While the gameplay itself is certainly more akin to experiences like Populous, there is much about the wide-eyed settings and beautiful graphics of The Mims: Beginning that call to mind such titles as Nintendo’s Pikmin. While everything on the landscape is green and natural, the buildings and machines you’ll construct are very robust and mechanical, creating a wonderful mismatch of visual styles that just seems to work.

The Mims: Beginning

With more funding, Squatting Penguins hopes to add voice acting work, an additional game mode, and higher quality cut scenes (admittedly, the cut scenes in the game did have a very buggy and unfinished feel to them in the beta build that I played). The good news is that the team has already reached their initial goal of $5,500, but there’s still time for you to contribute to some of the stretch goals and net yourself some cool rewards in the process. These stretch goals include adding five bonus adventures into the main game, as well as an additional mission pack called “The Fate of the Lost Crew” to be released sometime after the game’s initial launch.

Depending on how the rest of the campaign goes, Squatting Penguins hopes to have the finished game released on PC and Mac sometime in the first quarter of 2014, and they are also seeking support on Steam’s Greenlight program. In the meantime, you can help out The Mims: Beginning by visiting the game’s Indiegogo page and making a donation, where most amounts will net you access to the early beta as well! You know, if you just can’t wait to boss some wide-eyed orange creatures around.

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