The Urbz Updated Impressions

We get an updated look at the Game Boy Advance version of EA's urban-themed Sims game.

The upcoming Game Boy Advance version of The Urbz was on display next to its console cousin at today's press event at Electronic Arts. The game will expand on last year's succesful 2D approach taken with The Sims Bustin' Out and it will incorporate its own variation on the gameplay elements introduced in the console versions of The Urbz. While nothing has fundamentally changed about the gameplay since we got a look at it last month, we were able to get a closer look at the minigames and some new environments in the game.

We checked out a full list of the minigames, which include such gems as Squeegee Clean, Street Hoops, Dr. Max Stat!, Comic Explosion, Moo Goo Monkey, and Soul Music. While we'd seen some, such as Squeegee Clean, we were able to try Comic Explosion, Moo Goo Monkey, and Soul Music for the first time. Comic Explosion casts you in the role of a stand-up comic avoiding tomatoes being flung at you. The goal is to remain close to the microphone under a spotlight. The longer you stay close, the more points you earn. Moo Goo Monkey is a card game, which we had a hard time following, that involves betting on assorted monkeys--always a good thing--with various types of fruit, while trying to ensure that the monkeys you bet on have the highest cards under them. Finally, Soul Music is a rhythm game in the vein of Space Channel 5 that requires you to match a fiddle-playing opponent's moves to the beat.

Our demo also showed off a number of environments in the game, such as Paradise Island, which features its very own "Survivor"-style game show, complete with TV-style presentation. The bayou area featured a man-eating plant last seen in The Sims Bustin' Out. There was also a library containing books that triggered logic minigames, which, if you completed them, would beef up your stats. Some of the coolest things we saw revolved around the hideouts you can get as part of the individual factions. You'll find unique custom digs for nerdies, richies, streeties, and arties--the social groups you'll encounter in the game. The arties even warrant a special hideout, a genie lamp that acts as a tent you can use to satisfy your Urbs' needs at any time. However, the coolest thing we saw was a level that featured some old-school retro designs that included simple single-colored pixels and color cycling to make the area look like an old-school platformer environment.

From the looks of things so far, The Urbz GBA is shaping up to be a worthy successor to The Sims Bustin' Out. The game looks to be packed with features and plenty of replay value, such as the multiplayer mode that has you collecting a plethora of items available in the game, as well as the minigames that you can play with up to four other people. If you dug last year's game, you'll definitely want to check out this year's installment in the series. The Urbz on the Game Boy Advance is currently slated to ship this fall alongside its console counterparts. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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