It has been more than half a year since the Nintendo 3DS was introduced, and still a common complaint is that there just aren’t enough quality games. Very few developers seem comfortable using the 3DS’ control scheme, which is surprising because of its similarities to the DS, the best-selling handheld system of all time.
The games just haven’t been there, and the ones that have been released just aren’t where the 3DS needs them to be. One such game was The Sims 3. It wasn’t a bad game, but it felt incomplete, and very dumbed down for the 3DS. There were major sacrifices made in the name of the port, and while some of them were understandable, others were a problem.
The Sims 3: Pets is a more complete game that its predecessor. The console version is not nearly as big a jump in iterations — it is more of an expansion pack than a brand new game. The 3DS version on the other hand, fixes several errors and problems that plagued the last title, adds new content including pets, and it also uses the 3DS controls to their fullest. For as complex as the PC controls are, the 3DS does a solid job of porting them over. They are still slightly confined due to the nature of the device, but The Sims 3: Pets uses the buttons — and especially the touchpad — exceedingly well.
The inclusion of the pets is a solid one too, and you can now create your own dog or cat, assign them personality traits and goals, then give them a custom coat that can be fairly wild in design. Once you have that set, you also create a human Sim or Sims (you cannot port data over from The Sims 3) and create a new family.
The human Sims react and go about the business as usual. They wake up, eat, clean, go to work then come home to inevitably be locked in a room with no doors or windows and left to die by their bored and demented creators. The pets though also have a fair amount of freedom, and become controllable characters. They can romp, play with other humans or animals, and have their own adventures around town.
It is a surprisingly addictive addition, as the pets can also help out at home, and help their owners in their goals. The means of which change based on each individual goal, and the animals don’t have jobs, but they can complete simple objectives to benefit their family.
If the pets aren’t your thing, you can skip them altogether, or you can just keep them around for fun and focus on your human sims. They are additional content, but not something required.
The main improvement, though, is the controls. The last Sims title was fun for people who love the Sims and were keen on a handheld version, but not very accessible. The Sims 3: Pets is a good game all around, with plenty to do. It probably won’t win over people who hate the concept, but it could become a winner for people who are on the fence and considering giving the series a try.
The Sims 3: Pets isn’t going to replace your console or PC copies, but it is a solid port for a handheld. It is a shame that you can’t continue the characters you may have created in The Sims 3, but this game will be better suited for those that weren’t burned out by the last one. It isn’t a radically different game by any means, but it is a much smoother adaptation of the series, and a solid use of the 3DS’ controls.
Score: 8 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS on a copy provided by EA)