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The Sims: Bustin' Out

Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: Maxis
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

The new generation of Sims games, entitled Bustin' Out, are all getting a complete facelift as compared to the first version. The Sims: Bustin' Out for the GBA is no different, even though it doesn't sport the same 3D graphics as the rest of the bunch. It instead adopts a fixed isometric view that uses 2D sprites instead of 3D polygons. This allows for a colorful scene, but you cannot change the view at all.

The music will be very familiar to those who have played these games before, soothing tunes that give you a sense of lethargy instead of urgency. Lacking from the bells and whistles is any form of Sim speak. Gone is the gibberish we've come to learn almost as fluently as English. When you strike up a conversation with another Sim, you get to pick and choose what you say to them from a list of sentences.


The Sims: Bustin' Out on the GBA takes a very different approach to gameplay as compared to other titles of the series. You can create a Sim of your own, which you control directly, change their look and attitude, but once you get into the game, you are at the whim of the pre-designed missions instead of being able to create the house of your dreams.

You are dropped off in a small town where you stay in your uncle's barn for the first part of the game. From that base of operations you can go around a small part of the town, talk to people, and ultimately learn about different tasks that need to be accomplished. These range from making you gain popularity with everyone to finding certain things in town, delivering goods, or just increasing your Sim's skills.

As you complete more of the missions, you will gain access to other parts of the town, where you can meet more people and gain more missions. Along the way you will move into other abodes, though you have no choice over when or where to move. You can, however, deck out your pad in whatever style you want, as long as you have the money to buy your home decor.

Money, otherwise known as simoleans, is gotten from performing jobs, which are in the form of mini games. The first one you'll have access to will be mowing your uncle's yard. Others include weight lifting, fishing, and even cliff diving. As you progress through the game, you will earn promotions, unlock new jobs, and gain more money. These mini games do good to turn something that would otherwise be boring into a fun little habit.


Like all the other Sims games, Bustin' Out isn't as hard as it is tedious. When trying to find new tasks to do for people, you first have to find the person, who could be anywhere on the map. Tracking down the locals can be quite a task, and it can grate the nerves after a few attempts. The rest of the game is pretty simple though. The mini games are the biggest challenges, and the rest is just going from point to point and hitting a few buttons along the way.

Game Mechanics:

Running around the small town you live in is as simple as pressing the direction you want to go in. Your main method of transportation is your own two feet, but you will eventually get a scooter, and you can also use the labyrinth of sewers to quickly move around town.

Along the way you will find various items to pick up, such as aluminum cans, cogs, three eyed mice, and bars of radioactive material. These can be collected and sold to the local scientist, and are also used in some of your missions. You can also acquire items from stores or from what people give you. You have a limited capacity to hold things, so some sense of what is important must be used when transporting goods.

The Sims: Bustin' Out on the GBA may look and feel different than the other titles, but you'll still find yourself playing it for longer than you should even though nothing exciting is really going on. You still have to keep up your Sim's attributes, like sending them to the bathroom, keeping them clean, and making sure they are fed. It doesn't quite reach the same level of mindless play as the other titles, but it can still captivate. It's not a bad portable game, but be prepared to spend more hours than are healthy playing it.

-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

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