The Sims Bustin' Out for the Game Boy Advance is the first release of its kind on the Game Boy Advance handheld. Although released well over a year ago, it is still able to stand up to modern day releases on the platform, and is still worth a look as it is not a typcial Sims release. In this release of the Sims your character is a teenager who has gone to visit their uncle's farm for the summer. Through set tasks given to you by your uncle and his neighbors, you begin to build new friendships and enemies in Sim Valley. Unlike the PC versions of The Sims, the main focus is to complete a series of tasks and levels to open up more of the town to explore. Of course you are still responsible for managing your basic necessities, like food, sleep, fun and relationships. Also, since your character is only a teenager and does not go to a set job for 8 hours each day, some of the simple tasks or chores asked of you earn money. This enables you to upgrade your living style and pay for food.
This game brings a welcomed change to The Sims series of games. With set goals to complete, the urge to keep playing to finish out a level keeps the game more entertaining. The goals are also designed to make you explore the town of Sim Valley and learn the layout, without having to rely heavily on the map. The map was found to be simple and to not include all the places that were mentioned in the game.
The graphics were comparable to other Game Boy Advance games. I did not find any disadvantage to trying to navigate my Sim on a small screen. The music was not anything exciting and after awhile of play seemed very repetitive. This is nothing new from the PC versions of The Sims.
The interaction level with other Sims has also been increased. Instead of the foreign mumbling and bubbles that appeared over the Sims head, actual conversations take place. Each time a conversation is started with another Sim, the screen changes to allow you to choose from a list of phrases that you can use to interact with other Sims. The phrases were somewhat limited and as always be careful not to insult the other Sim.
There were a few small glitches I came across while playing this game. For example after moving out on my own, I was robbed. The robber took my toilet and I am still looking for a place to buy a new one. Having to always end up near a public washroom to take care of my Sims needs is very annoying. The other problem is with the puppy I purchased. The puppy seems too not be aware of the walls of my house. It appears to be outside from inside the house, but when I go outside the puppy is not there. He seems to be trapped in the vortex of the wall. This makes it very difficult to clean up after his accidents. The solution I have found is the maid service also seems to be able to walk in the walls. This however is a very expensive way to take care of a puppy. These noticeable flaws do degrade from the overall fun factor of the game.
The Game Boy version of The Sims can also be linked to the Game Cube version of the same title. This allows you to save your Sims and play them on either console.
The game also has built-in support for multiplayer. By using the computer in the library you can link up to 4 Game Boys to trade items and unlock Paradise Island to extend your playing beyond Sim Valley.
Overall the game is entertaining and just different enough from the PC versions of the game that it is worth playing. Although once all the levels or tasks have been completed the game does loose some value. One could create a new Sim and start over, but the tasks will seem pointless and very repetitive. Continuing with the Sim the user has completed the levels with makes the game the same as its PC versions, and one could say it really limits the replay value. For something a little bit different and for a new challenge with the Sims, The Sims Bustin' Out is a solid GBA release.