A New Adventure
Just like the previous years, the GBA version of the Sims 2 Pets will again be targeted at the youngest audience of all. Maxis is making another adventure game for the handheld, this time set in Barkersville. You have to go through a story while some elements of the original Sims game will also keep you busy. Those who do have other GBA versions of the Sims or the Urbz will find the gameplay to be similar to those other editions, except that pets have been added to this game.
Create Pick a Pet
One of the main things you'll have to do, is make sure you have a pet. Don't expect too much fancy in the Create a Pet department though. Where making a Sim has been enhanced a little, but is still mostly just picking the colours your Sim wears (and a bit of personality), you don't have too much freedom over your pet. Basically you have to adopt one of several, which of course will also cost you some money. You'll get a choice of several dogs and cats. You get to see the animal, as well as a brief description of his or her personality. Once you've made your choice in the pet store, the pet will start following you around wherever you go.
One thing which goes across all versions, and that includes the GBA, is that you have to train pets. This is done through mini-games in five categories, starting with the basic tricks. There will be about 5-10 tricks per category, all of which your pet can learn.
It won't come as a surprise to everybody that the GBA edition of the Sims 2 Pets will feature plenty of mini-games to play. With you having to go through four different careers - pet walker, trainer, vet or parapsychologist (yes, a pet shrink) - there are already some games to go through. You'll need to advance in those careers to progress through the game and increase your reputation in town. You also need to socialise with other Sims. You can successfully improve your relationship with another Sim, by simply picking the right conversation topics when talking to one. They come in from the right of the screen, in three bars. As soon as the topics are on the left, the one under your cursor will be the one you pick. A similar technique applies to intimidation, for example.
You'll also need to participate in contests with your pet. That's where the tricks, mentioned earlier, come to use. To make your pet perform the right tricks in front of the jury on stage, you have to play a game which involves pressing buttons at the correct times. If you know Dance Dance Revolution, you'll know what it's like: the buttons you have to press go from the bottom of your screen and move to the top. As soon as the image reaches a marked area at the top, you have to press the button. Don't be too late or too early, as that will cost you points. Hitting the button right at the spot will make your pet perform the trick better, with better results in the end.
One more mini-game which is spread through the entire game are the so-called "Collectibles." Throughout Barkersville you'll find plenty of trash laying around, from newspapers to cans and bottles. Pick them up and re-sell them whenever you can to earn a bit of extra money. It can always come in handy.
The GBA game is a lot like those of previous years, and really focussed on the younger Sims fans. It's the least like the PC game of them all, which is not much of a surprise considering the platform it's for. While the interface has been refreshed, it's a matter of trying to find out if it's really better than last year, even though it definitely looks nicer to the eye. If you liked any of the previous games, this might be one for you as well. Head out to the stores on 10 November if you're in the US, or 17 November if you live somewhere else to be the first to get this GBA game.
This concludes our Pets Preview special. A mobile version of the game has been announced in between the posting of the various reports, and it's expected in Europe in December. Whether the mobile edition will make it to other parts of the world is not yet certain, and details about it are all very vague. No information has yet been released about that version at the time of writing, but keep following the news if you want to know more about it as it happens.
Of course I want to thank EA and The Sims Division (unfortunately the name Maxis seems to be completely gone since this release) for giving me the opportunity to travel to Redwood City to check out all the Pets games even before the announcement. Special thanks to the Web and Community team on the official site for organising the whole event, and making sure we all had a good and safe trip.
We hope you enjoyed reading this special, getting an exclusive inside look inside the various games that EA has made. By now the PC, PS2 and GameCube versions are already out and you can get and play them, and full reviews of those games will be posted at the Sims Zone as well. Keep looking out for the console reviews, or check out our PC Review which will be posted in multiple parts!
Written at 00:12 on Friday 28 July 2006 by