The Sims Reviewed: It's Completely Unlike Sea Monkeys
Gary: Hey man, what's wrong? You are bawling like a baby there at your Mac.
Randy: They got a divorce. After all those years of hard work and building a future together they go and get a divorce.
Gary: Oh wow. I'm so sorry man. Is it your folks?
Randy: No, they divorced when I was like three. Like I'd still be crying about that. What kind of weepy jerk do you think I am? I'm talking about my Sim family the Spudheads. After working so hard on them they went and split up on me.
Gary: You really do need therapy, my friend.
Randy: I poured my love and attention into their house. I bought them nice things. Even an iMac!
Gary: At least you are sane when it comes to computers.
Randy: I added rooms to their house. I put in a pool in the backyard for Pete's sake!
Gary: Sounds like your Sims have a better pad than we do.
Randy: I even gave them other people to play with. Who wouldn't be happy living right next door to a house full of lesbian roommates? Who!? I ask you!?
Gary: Uh, I think I am beginning to see where your Spudhead household may have gone wrong. Just backup and explain for the edification of our readers exactly how you created this utopia on acid called the Spudhead house.
Gary: Hummm, I would have thought it was Krispy Kreme Doughnuts judging by the boxes all over your end of the cave, but do go on.
Randy: The Sims is the people simulator from Maxis, the original creators of Sim City. And much like Sim City your goal is to simulate real life, but on a much smaller scale.
Gary: How small are we talking here, like sea monkeys small?
Randy: More like on a neighborhood scale. You can populate a neighborhood with prefab Sim families or create families of your own. And when I say families I use the term loosely. You can have just one person in a "family" or several people in a "nontraditional family", such as my lovely family of four women, the Bootycallers.
Gary: The Bootycallers. That's nice. I'm sure Mrs. Spudhead was just thrilled when "the Bootycaller" girls moved in next door.
Randy: Oddly enough she was not. But I tried to make all the girls in the Bootycall house outgoing and playful so they'd make friends. When you create a new person in The Sims you can control five personality traits all in all. Neat, Outgoing, Active, Playful and Nice. And believe me it's pretty important to try and balance your Sims traits or you will wind up with unexpected personalities.
Gary: Let me guess. The playful girls at the Bootycall house are not much for neatness.
Randy: Yeah, it got so bad they refused to go inside the house after a few weeks. But they loved to hang out at the Spudhead's house.
Gary: Sure, why not. They have a pool!
Gary: I hope you didn't put a gun in the Spudhead's house, because I would imagine Mrs. Spudhead is going right for it about this time.
Randy: Because The Sims is a family game there are no firearms available, and no nudity for that matter. Naked Sims in the bathroom are discretely fuzzed out.
Randy: But there are plenty of other things you can buy for your Sims if you have the cash. In fact the nicer you make your Sims digs the happier they are. And the whole point of the game is to keep your Sims happy, washed and well fed. After you pick your family you move them into a house or you can buy an empty lot and build your house from scratch. But you only get twenty thousand bucks to start the game.
Gary: Actually you don't get dollars you get 20 K of Sim money called, Simoleons, of course.
Randy: Right. And that money has to buy everything you need to get started. Beds, chairs, bathtubs, sinks, lights, coffee maker and lava lamp. Everything. I had to start my houses off modestly. But once my Sims looked in the newspaper and surfed the web on their computers, they got jobs and started making money. Which is a good thing, since your Sims won't have any food once they run out of money.
Gary: Sounds like college.
Randy: The trick is to balance your Sims personal time so they eat, sleep and shower as well as make friends and keep entertained. You can see their moods and needs in the pleasantly discreet interface via specific bar meters. You can also look at the state of their relationships with other Sims, their house details and information about their job. You can't control your Sims while they are at work. But as they gain skills they can get better jobs.
Gary: So what does Mr. Spudhead do for a living?
Randy: Full time pickpocket!
Randy: It leaves him with lots of free time to watch the Bootycalls across the backyard.
Gary: Well I can see Mrs. Spudheads life is pretty much the American dream.
Randy: You'd think. But listen to this
Randy: Keep listening... After my Sims got some money in the bank I started decking out the houses. A bigger TV here, a new bedroom on top of there, a jammin stereo over here, an iMac everywhere.
Gary: They do not have an iMac that you can buy in The Sims.
Randy: Not directly. But you can add to the household items that are available in The Sims game by downloading objects from Aspyr's Sim web site. They have been releasing all of the extra objects that are available for the PC version over the last several weeks. You can also grab some great household goodies from independent fan sites like The Seven Deadly Sims and The Sims Resource. There are more wall and floor textures, furniture and people skins all free for the downloading. But not every third party object will work. There is a name length problem with some of the PC objects. However there are free converters available on the web. All of Aspyr's objects are tested and approved for Mac. And they are coming out with the Sims expansion pack soon too, Livin Large
Gary: Cool! This skins and object creation thing has become a cottage industry for some of the big Sim fan sites. In fact Aspyr released the Sim Show software for Mac users who want to create their own skins. You can grab it from Aspyr's web site.
Randy: Yeah, but make sure you have your registration number to get into the Sims support section of Aspyr's site. I learned the hard way. I bought my copy of the Sims at Mac World New York. It was in prerelease packaging with just a shrink-wrapped manual and clear jewel case. My serial number was on the jewel case on a little white sticker. After I installed The Sims I tossed my jewel case and with it my entry into the official support site for the game, forever. I know Aspyr has to try and prevent people from pirating their software but, dang it, that sucks!
Gary: Well with lots of fan sites out there I'm sure you'll be able to keep abreast of the latest updates and downloads.
Randy: Anyway, after weeks of carefully pampering my Sim families. Making sure they go to work every day. Making sure they shower everyday. Making sure they don't party all night in the next door neighbor's pool and forget to sleep. Mr. and Mrs. Spudhead stopped talking to each other. First they would just eat in silence but eventually they started sleeping in separate rooms. He would just play on the computer and watch TV when he got home from work and she would hang out in the pool all day with two of the Bootycall chicks.
Gary: Wait this sounds like a build up for a scene from Ferris Buller.
Randy: Well I watched the relationship numbers nose dive between Mr. and Mrs. Spudhead and climb between the new poolside lounge club ladies.
Gary: And I'm sure you encouraged that.
Randy: Dude what kind of perv do you think I am? It's a game for Pete's sake. Of course I did!
Gary: Well it's sounds like you have your hands full.
Randy: Yeah, it's really addictive. You can only play one house at a time actively so it's fun to check in to each house for a while and see how much trouble they have created, then jump to the next house and nose around their life for a bit.
Gary: I've heard that the follow up game Simsville, which is due for the PC in 2001, will let you keep your Sim house in an Internet based community with thousands of other player controlled houses living as a community.
Randy: That would be totally cool and slightly creepy all at the same time. I can't wait to see that come to the Mac.
Gary: So how does your little sage end?
Randy: Well, I've got three ladies pool side all in love with each other and one really tense frustrated guy upstairs. I can't wait to see what happens next. Come to think of it, that does sound like some cheesy teen movie.
Gary: Dude, you really will have to grow up some day.
Randy: No way! I'm I'm emotionally scared from from my broken home! Yeah, that's the ticket! I am forever adolescent!
Gary: Well for once, I will have to agree with you.