The Urbz is the Game Boy Advance cousin to EA and Maxis' upcoming urban twist on The Sims for consoles. The game offers a pint-sized variation on the console game and puts you in control of an urb, an urban relation to the more straightlaced sim, who has been the virtual star of EA and Maxis' juggernaut franchise. We recently had a chance to get a look at the final version of the game and were impressed by what we saw. If you want your own look at The Urbz on GBA, head over to the media page to see some brand-new gameplay movies.
The game picks up shortly after where last year's GBA Sims game, The Sims Bustin' Out, left off, but it sends you to explore the colorful world of The Urbz, the street-savvy branch of the sim family tree. The game will mirror the reputation-focused gameplay style of its console cousin but make use of a structure similar to that of Bustin' Out. You'll try to impress the locals with your mad style and earn cash to outfit yourself in the right gear. Your reputation will be at the core of the experience and will come to affect the relationships you have with other players. You'll take on jobs, which are basically minigames, and earn new abilities called xizzles, which will affect how you progress through the game. As your rep grows, you'll be able to travel to new areas and interact with new faces, including one of the characters from the console version of The Urbz.
In addition to the single-player game, you'll find a meaty selection of multiplayer options that will let you play against a friend in the minigames, trade items, or auction goods. The biggest immediate benefit to linking with a friend, however, is the ability to unlock a brand-new area.
The graphics in the game are an improvement on Bustin' Out, offering a cleaner overall look. The visual polish ends up providing a good showcase for the artwork in the game, which is a change of pace from the style used in Bustin' Out. The urbz engage in some pretty amusing animations when you have them perform various menial tasks, such as taking a shower or sitting atop the toilet (both of which occur in plain view). Griptonite has managed to cram quite a bit of variety into the new game and has given it a unique feel--quite an accomplishment, considering that we're talking about the relatively tiny GBA screen.
So far, the audio in The Urbz is impressive and makes smart use of the GBA's capabilities. You'll hear snippets of simlish (the bizarre language that all sims speak) peppered throughout your encounters with NPCs in the game, as well as a fair assortment of sound samples. However, the aural crown jewel is likely to be the various music tracks used for the plethora of minigames included in the title, especially the rhythm action one.
From what we've seen, The Urbz is shaping up well. The varied and simple gameplay is addictive, and the multiplayer support gives the game respectable legs. If you're a fan of The Sims games or are looking for a fun diversion, you'll want to keep an eye out for The Urbz when it ships this fall.