From the streets to the GBA to the DS.
The Nintendo DS opens a lot of doors for developers, but not all of them are as innovative as others. The Urbz walks through one of these less-innovative doors. With the exception of an added section and mini-games, the title is a port of the Game Boy Advance version of the game.
Fans of The Sims will know this already, but the object of these games is to basically play dollhouse with a collection of digital “sims.” What makes The Urbz different from most of The Sims games is that in this game you control just a single sim and have direct control over all of his actions.
The Urbz progresses basically as a series of missions. Your “Urb” goes through a series of odd jobs to try and save his building’s fate from Daddy Bigbucks, who wants to turn the whole city into a city-themed amusement park where people will have to pay to enter buildings that don’t contain any real amusement (oh yeah, great idea). Missions usually have various steps to complete, and after completing all the tasks in a mission, a new mission will be granted.
Most missions involve gathering items to give to other urbz. A few require the playing of minigames to earn simoleons (the money of The Urbz). While missions may sound like they are the main focus of The Urbz, they are not. In fact, The Urbz focuses on micromanagement, and lots of it. Your Urb has eight different need meters that must be kept up in order to keep him/her in a good mood. Examples include: hunger, hygiene, sleep, and bladder. If any of these meters fall below a certain level, your Urb will complain until that need is satisfied, and he or she will not do anything else until you do something about it.
What this amounts to is an extremely tedious gaming experience. With so many needs to keep satisfied, it’s almost impossible to get anything else done because one of the needs is always near zero. Time and time again a mission is just about finished and a need will drop, which will sometime cause the mission to end. After a few occurrences of this situation, the game becomes very frustrating.
The only skill-based gameplay in The Urbz comes in the minigames. Various minigames are available through the overall story, and can be used (or abused) to earn tons of simoleons and also advance the overall story of the game. Sadly, the minigames are mostly easy and pretty lame overall. A couple extra DS-only touch screen mini-games are included for this version, and they are the only big difference between the DS and GBA versions of The Urbz. The other difference is that on the DS, the game’s menus are constantly accessible through the touch screen, providing a very seamless interface.
Fans of The Sims series will likely find what they are looking for in The Urbz. Anybody else looking for a new, fun experience on the Nintendo DS would do best to look else ware, as The Urbz delivers nothing but tedious micromanagement.