Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All

Our House (DS) artwork

Our House (DS) review


"The main flaw that Our House suffers from isn't a technical one, however. It's the much more mundane issue of repetition. While nearly every one of the included mini-games are fun the first few times—or even the first 10 or 20—they can only amuse for so long. It's neat to be able to remodel rooms, but there's never any real motivation to do anything more than place the required objects in the room (perhaps without even giving much thought to artistic arrangement, which seems to be rated almost arbitrarily as long as you don't have a bureau's drawers opening into a wall or a toilet in the middle of the floor)."



Most of us have at one point or another dreamed of owning our own home. Our House, a recent DS release, attempts to make that dream interactive by allowing players to experience some of the thrills of home ownership while also tossing in plenty of independent contractor and interior decorating exercises for good measure. It's the stuff that good games are made of, but is this a case where the execution matches the intriguing concept?

Developed internally at Majesco, a rarity for the budget publisher, Our House doesn't have a single quality aside from its concept that helps it to stand out from the crowd of casual games available for the platform. Visuals are cheerful and competent throughout but largely forgettable. The sound effects won't likely stick with you for any length of time. Music is memorable only because it's simplistic and repetitive enough that you won't likely forget it even when you wish you could. There's no real depth, either, since the game features only around 12 mini-games and the town where you're making your home is so limited. Execution doesn't match the quality of the concept, in other words, but it does a good enough job that you might just enjoy the game in spite of that.

As play begins, you find yourself a newlywed who has just moved to a small town in an attempt to escape the fast-paced life you didn't quite enjoy while living in the big city. You begin with a small house and a handful of contracting jobs available within the local community. As the game progresses, your work gains such acclaim that people move to the area just for the pleasure of having you work on their homes (though it seems like the same few people). You'll be one of your own best customers, as well, changing homes several times as your family expands.

Much of your time with the game is spent performing jobs for your few employers. You'll fix leaky pipes, connect sparking electrical wires, assemble scraps of a wall mural, toss frisky mice from an abandoned room, wallpaper a living room, tile a kitchen floor and so forth. Activities generally come down to simple swipes and turns of the stylus, but there's enough precision required that you can't just sleepwalk through everything by the time you reach the later stages. You just might wish that you could, though, as each of the various tasks must be performed numerous times throughout the course of the game. You'll encounter the full extent of the available mini-games very early in the experience. Then you're doomed to repeat them regularly as the difficulty in doing so gradually increases along with your reported wealth.

When you're not swiping the stylus like a man possessed, you're generally either shopping for furnishings or placing them within a home (sometimes your dwelling and others not). Here, you're presented with a three-dimensional space that is empty except for the furniture. You can place objects like beds, nightstands, toilets and refrigerators. As you slide the stylus to the sides of a given room, the camera perspective will gradually shift around so that you can see what you're doing, though sometimes it will take too long or your viewing angle will afford you a view of a solid wall of color until you reorient yourself. Such instances are rare, but they leave a person to wonder why the developers put so much effort into three-dimensional spaces when two-dimensional ones would perhaps have served their purpose more effectively.

The main flaw that Our House suffers from isn't a technical one, however. It's the much more mundane issue of repetition. While nearly every one of the included mini-games are fun the first few times--or even the first 10 or 20--they can only amuse for so long. It's neat to be able to remodel rooms, but there's never any real motivation to do anything more than place the required objects in the room (perhaps without even giving much thought to artistic arrangement, which seems to be rated almost arbitrarily as long as you don't have a bureau's drawers opening into a wall or a toilet in the middle of the floor). You're asked to decorate rooms each time that you take a job, so that the whole process grows tiresome well ahead of the game's conclusion.

Perhaps worst of all is that improving your own house never really feels personal. Your only priority is to place enough furniture that you can sell the building and move onto another one. Investing any more effort than necessary just feels like a waste of your time since you won't even get to enjoy the digital fruits of your labor except as a larger deposit in your virtual account. At the end of the game you'll finally settle on a location that will serve as your final abode, one that you can spruce up with various selections from the local furniture store, but by then it's difficult to suddenly start caring.

Those who might be interested in purchasing the game for several of their children to enjoy should also take note, as the game contains only a single save file. When you play, you either resume play precisely where you left off by clicking on the 'Continue' button from the title screen, or you can start a new file from scratch and lose any progress that you (or another player) had made previously. That's an unfortunate fact that holds the game back from being the family treasure that it might otherwise have been. Most kids should have little difficulty playing through with half of a weekend, but not everyone relishes the thought of his save file being lost to a little brother or sister.

In spite of the flaws mentioned above, Our House definitely represents a good idea and its execution inspires confidence in the developer's potential future projects. This particular effort just doesn't feel quite finished. With more job variety, more incentives for decorating rooms and some additional simulation elements that could have allowed players to feel more like contractors, this could have been an exemplary title. Instead, it's merely an interesting one that probably won't ever find a cherished place in your long-term games collection. Don't be afraid to give it a shot if you can find it at a bargain price, but otherwise take home a more substantial game to your house.

Rating: 6/10

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (January 05, 2010)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

More Reviews by Jason Venter
Super Toy Cars (Wii U) artwork
Super Toy Cars (Wii U)

The mini-car racer is still a fun concept, but Super Toy Cars is neither refined enough nor interesting enough to justify your time and money.
Shovel Knight (Wii U) artwork
Shovel Knight (Wii U)

An attempt to revive old school sensibilities that works much better than similar efforts often do.
ReignMaker (PC) artwork
ReignMaker (PC)

It's a real shame the quality of the hybrid gameplay doesn't match the genius of the game's clever title.

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Our House review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Info | Help | Privacy Policy | Contact | Advertise | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Our House is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Our House, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors.