The Sims Bustin' Out GBA Impressions

Everyone's favorite little computer people are headed for a Game Boy Advance near you. Details inside.

At today's Camp EA press event, we were able to see The Sims Bustin' Out for the Game Boy Advance in motion. The game won't be out until the end of the year, so it's still missing some features at this point, but several other aspects of the game seemed pretty far along. The game will feature colorful 2D graphics for your little computerized people (or "sims") and their surroundings, and it will feature goal-oriented gameplay similar to that of the home console versions of Bustin' Out--like in that game, you'll control the life of a sim and attempt to advance his or her career, while buying furniture and other items for his or her home.

In the game, you'll be able to create your own custom sim, either male or female, with your choice of hair color, hairstyle, shirt, pants, and shoes. You'll also be able to choose the same standard personality attributes featured in the original versions of The Sims--neat, outgoing, active, nice, and so on. Once your sim is created, you'll get started on your uncle's farm. Your character will start the game living in a barn, but will eventually be able to move out to better locations, including the interior of a clock tower, a condominium, and even a mansion on a hill. But in order to get off the farm, you'll need to complete a series of discrete goals that your uncle and other characters will give you that will let you unlock new items, earn money, and pursue a career path.

You'll be able to talk to other characters and get missions in a simplified, console-RPG-style manner--simply walk up to the character you wish to speak with and press the interact button, which pulls up a dialogue menu. When you receive new tasks, they'll appear in your sim's menu whenever you pause the game by pressing your GBA's start button. Tasks will be simple enough at the beginning of the game. For instance, you may be required to round up your uncle's stray chickens, but they'll become more challenging later on. Like in many console RPGs, your sim's inventory size won't be limited by carrying weight, so you'll be able to stuff chickens, sofas, and showers into your pocket and carry them around with ease. And if you're in a hurry, you'll be able to run as well as walk. Running will deplete some of your sim's energy (and may eventually make your sim so tired that he or she has to rest), though the actual rate at which sims deplete the meters that monitor their energy, hunger, and other needs (or "motives," as they're referred to in The Sims series) hasn't been completely finalized.

Your uncle will also get you started on your first career path: the exciting field of lawn mowing. You'll need to first repair a tractor using your sim's mechanical skill, then play a minigame in which you drive the tractor through a field and over as many crabgrass patches as possible within a specific time limit. Successfully completing this objective earns you money and unlocks new objectives. Bustin' Out for the GBA will have plenty of other career-based minigames, including cliff diving, making pizza, creating chemical concoctions in a lab, and performing at a music bar. As in the original games on both consoles and the PC, your success in your career is governed by attributes such as mechanical, logic, body, and charisma, though the GBA game will actually feature a skill library that will let you buy a skill book that increases a specific skill by a single point.

The Sims Bustin' Out for the Game Boy Advance will be released later this year. It will have connectivity features that will let you trade items with other GBA owners using a link cable. The game will also support GameCube connectivity. Using your GC-to-GBA link cable will let you access a secret island area from the docks of your GBA town, not unlike the island from Nintendo's 2002 game Animal Crossing. The game's other GameCube connectivity features will let you download your GameCube characters to your GBA and unlock a "minigame cabinet" in the GameCube game that will let you play any of the GBA's career-based minigames to earn cash in the game.

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