RTS Without Battle
Also available on Nintendo Switch, New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers is a casual city building sim that is probably one of the easiest going simulation games ever made. With no true end game or way to “die,” this sim is a great jumping off point for new comers to the genre or someone looking to mindlessly tap the touchscreen with the stylus without providing too much thought.
It almost seems like New Frontier Days began its life as a Free-To-Play title, utilizing click-and-wait techniques, but then dropped it halfway through development to be accessible behind a single paywall. Because, why go up against Farmville, or even Harvest Moon or Story of Seasons, when you don’t have to. Instead, this resource management and gathering sim feels like a watered down and friendly version of Warcraft only without a focus on battle.
Starting with a single pioneer, the player eventually builds a settlement from nothing. Chopping wood, mining ore, and hunting animals will yield materials to build houses, work stations, and even roads. Instead of using resources to build an army to fight another army, the player continually builds more structures to unlock more structures. It seems like an awkward reward for performing well but this is what keeps the game casual, slower paced, and leisure – you unlock more game by playing more game. Unfortunately, this eliminates an overall purpose to spending hours into building your town when there is ultimately no end goal or fulfilling reward.
New Frontier Days’ overall gimmick, however, is stockpiling your town with enough resources and money by the end of the in-game year (somewhere between 5-10 real world minutes). If your money count is in the red because you didn’t sell enough wood, your economy will suffer. If you didn’t make enough medicine during that year to cure a sickness, your pioneers will move slower the following year so you won’t get as much done. With an attempt to spice up gameplay, the player will unlock cards that can be activated at will or used passively to increase wood production, unlock an instant amount of bonus resources, or simply increase productivity in some way, for example. While welcomed, it ultimately doesn’t add anything major to this title’s overall entertainment factor. Occasionally, something extreme will happen, like your town being attacked by sheep, but these instances usually wind up being annoying more than anything. Challenges will also randomly appear that will earn the player additional resources, like mine 50 pieces of ore in one year, but usually requires to stop what you were doing to fulfill these requirements that might make you come up short at the end of the year.
The stylus interface takes some time to get used to and the music will eventually grow tiresome after a couple hours, but overall works well on the 3DS. The rest of the presentation is also minimalistic, complete with a soft color palette, but fits the overall casual and laid back tone of the gameplay. There is not a lot to speak of but there isn’t supposed to be.
New Frontier Days – Founding Pioneers is a game that isn’t necessarily for everyone. However, I can see how some could find the casual pacing and lack of action a highlight but I found myself wishing something else would happen; you can only shotgun so many defenseless sheep before wanting to play something else.
Not As Good As: Harvest Moon
Better Than: chopping your own firewood
Also Try: John Deere: Harvest in the Heartland DS
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com