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It prefers grassy soil and hogs nutrients.

Specific mission goals require logic. Take the case of getting a beaver to build a dam. The player feeds the beaver to make him content, must get him a stick (knock down a tree, shake a stick), drop him near a narrow part of a stream to dam up and watch a lake develop.

Most important is for parents to get involved and explain to their children that petting wild animals or disturbing a habitat in real life is not a good idea.

Age range: An 8-year-old who loves to read, play with cute animals and knows that species procreate (snuggling and heart icons lead to offspring) will most appreciate the game.

Parents certainly should join in the Wii version as the multiplayer mode can become absolute chaos. Up to four players can simultaneously control the screen and the flow of the action. A leader is needed to take charge of the exploration and set some rules.

Final advice: With the likes of the Viva Pinata franchise and Nintendogs around, it’s tough to recommend the too-simplistic SimAnimals. Once the environments are thriving, there’s little left to do but admire one’s work.

Send e-mail to jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.