(Originally posted on laurawritesanarticle.blogspot.com on the 11th of February 2021)
This is an article that contains some mild and moderate sexual references. Reader discretion is advised.
Sul sul! I may have been upset at how the United Kingdom went into full lockdown for the third time at the start of a new year, but wishing The Sims a happy 21st birthday this month is sure to keep me on my pedicured toes. I have been a sucker for The Sims ever since I was a preteen when my grandfather introduced me to The Sims 2, along with The Sims 2 University. The elegant and athletic Bella Goth will always be my favourite sim of all time, whether she is missing or not. Too bad plenty of simmers were disappointed in the 20th-anniversary celebration and how it was not as festive and dedicated as the 25th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise so far. Nevertheless, we can still celebrate the franchise’s 21st anniversary like how we humans celebrate special 21st birthdays with emerald green plumbobs above our heads whilst plenty of animal crossers are adoring the new Animal Crossing-themed makeup haul from Colorpop and the six new Sanrio-themed amiibo cards. Furthermore, I shall keep the plumbob above my head as green as newly grown grass as I analyse every single chapter of the franchise, feeling inspired after many box critters celebrated the second anniversary of their online residence.
It all started way back in early 2000. As a spin-off of the SimCity franchise, its premise was about the lives of human-like citizens named “sims” and its overall gameplay made simmers feel like God as it gave them complete control of each sim’s life, including the lives of Mortimer Goth, his wife Bella and their daughter Cassandra. There are various samples of artificial intelligence that make the sims behave just like how human beings in real life do. Later on, expansion packs were released to give a simmer more things to do with a sim, such as bringing them back from the dead as zombies in The Sims: Livin’ It Up, the first-ever expansion pack in the franchise and giving them a pet to play with The Sims: Unleashed in 2002. Towards the year of that year, an online equivalent named “The Sims Online” was released. It is a shame how there was a greatly missed opportunity to combine The Sims with SimCity in a computer game titled “SimsVille” in 2001, but at least the base game of The Sims and its expansion packs were a memorable phenomenon from 2000 to 2003.
Not only was the original base game for PC, but there was a port for consoles too. It was quite for featuring fully 3D graphics and a controllable camera for seeing the environments in more than just a bird’s eye view. In 2003, the console version of The Sims Bustin’ Out was released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube. I believe that its premise took place before The Sims due to Cassandra Goth’s absence. The handheld version of The Sims Bustin’ Out was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2003 and the N-Gage in 2004. Let us not forget about its chronological sequel, The Urbz: Sims In The City, even though the word “urbz” sounds kind of like street slang. Too bad the planned sequel for all ports of that game was cancelled due to low sales, which is quite similar to how plans for the sequel to Conker’s Bad Fur Day were abandoned due to poor sales until the release of only one episode of Conker’s Big Reunion in 2015. All three console games might as well have been chronologically linked together before the next chapter was established in 2004.
Here comes the era I endorse the most! The Sims 2 was the chronological sequel that consisted of a memorable neighbourhood that was set twenty-five years after the events of its predecessor. Back in those simpler times a few years after I adopted a lot of virtual petz in Petz 5, my younger sister would make a town of sims based on where we live in real life and create families based on our family and sometimes friends. With updated graphics, new life stages and a separate application that allows creative users to customize clothing items and such and import the final results into their own data, The Sims 2 became the best-selling PC game of all time. The artificial intelligence was even more incredible as it resulted in an outstandingly large variety of interactions involved in a sim’s conditions, relationships and reactions. Whether we took charge of Don Lothario’s love life in Pleasantview, helped Pascal Curious raise his alien baby in Strangetown or challenged the feud between the Montys and the Capps in Veronaville, The Sims 2 will always have a special place in the hearts of many 2000s teens and casual PC gamers.
I was introduced to the instalment of the University expansion and was inspired to send premade teenagers to a college to let them grow into young adults on my grandfather’s computer back in those good old days. It was freakily outstanding how you could make dead sims playable again…but as zombies! I also liked how you could allow a sim to drive their own car or become a vampire after just one bite in Nightlife, the expansion that is already installed in the Deluxe Edition of the base game that was released in 2007. I remember creating a male adult sim based on Jon Arbuckle with a cat based on Garfield and a dog based on Odie at some point after installing The Sims 2: Pets. As for Riverblossom Hills in The Sims 2: Seasons, I thought the designs of the PlantSims were adorable and was quite amused that how the Roths were parodies of the Goths. I liked how a sim can wear jewellery in The Sims 2: Bon Voyage. Lastly, a sim might as well become a good witch or a bad witch during uni life v2.0 in The Sims 2: Apartment Life.
I can understand the stuff packs will seem kind of tacked on to some simmers as they really do not have any impact on any aspects of the gameplay other than new clothing and household items and loading screen music. Additionally, the money-saving way to get more clothes for a sim would be having great skill in editing already-existing clothing in Adobe Photoshop and downloading some remarkable creations from the community website at the time it was still around. Nevertheless, each stuff pack had its own specific theme. It was adorable how Family Fun Stuff included princess costumes for little girls. The Celebration stuff pack was memorable for being featured in The Sims 2: Double Deluxe back in 2008. Would you believe that there were even stuff packs that are licensed to feature H&M and IKEA items in the base game? The only stuff pack to be re-released with an expansion was the Holiday Party Pack that was Christmas-themed. Whichever stuff pack would be your personal favourite, I just hope it was quite satisfying for you when it came to at least adding new and refreshing to the run-of-the-mill Sims 2 experience, even though it was only new clothing, household items and loading screen music.
Let us also discuss the ports of The Sims 2 for consoles and handheld systems. The port of the base game for the PlayStation 2 featured rather different graphics and designs for the pre-made sims, including the Caliente sisters, along with an exclusive neighbourhood called “Melbourne” with the two of the main ones. The PSP version not only consisted of the PC port’s graphics, but consisted of a somewhat different interpretation of life in Strangetown, along with an estranged Bella Goth. I could not believe that a specific glitch would occur at some point in the DS port, besides how I found its premise and features in Strangetown to be quite fascinating after buying a copy back in 2013. Also set in Strangetown, the Game Boy Advanced version seemed like a sequel to the handheld version of The Urbz: Sims In The City. There was even a port for mobile phones. The Sims 2: Pets was even adapted to its own similar ports, including one for mobile phones due to its potential of being a stand-alone spin-off game. Surely the console ports of The Sims 2 were not as ambitious as the popular PC version, but they at least had some small value on their own accords.
Outside of the league of expansion and stuff packs for The Sims 2, there was a trilogy that was considered laptop-friendly due to how they did not require as much storage space to be installed and was based around “life stories”. Each game in the trilogy had its own premise as:
- The Sims Life Stories was a simple rehash of what you can do in The Sims 2 without any expansion packs.
- The Sims Pet Life Stories was centred about caring for a pet due to the popularity of caring for a pet.
- The Sims Castaway Stories was based on the premise of The Sims 2 Castaway.
Castaway Stories was the most unique out of the trilogy as it was a fusion of the programming of The Sims 2 and the elements of The Sims 2 Castaway, thus resembling something that seems like an expansion pack. Each game featured an exclusive challenge for unlocking items named “Story Mode”. A simmer would need to accomplish goals to progress throughout a story of a sim to unlock story rewards. Too bad there was a missed opportunity to establish “The Sims University Stories”, but I suppose a trilogy is enough for some series.
Too bad The Sims 3 turned out to be extremely glitchy when it first came out in 2009 and was treated with a few unreliable updates. Nevertheless, things eventually improved and many expansion packs honoured the legacy of the expansion packs for The Sims and The Sims 2. I love how there is much more customization when it came to creating a family in the base game and how young adults are not only exclusive to an expansion pack that includes university life. I was pleased to see that I could film in much better quality in The Sims 3 compared to the quality of filming in The Sims 2. As an eventually exceptional successor to The Sims 2, it is no wonder I wished it a happy 10th anniversary back in 2019. It was quite interesting how it is set during Bella and Mortimer’s childhoods, along with how there were quite exceptional ports of the base game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, despite no open-world gameplay. Speaking of how The Sims 3 was a chronological prequel to The Sims 3, I am pretty sure that The Sims 5 might as well be a chronological prequel to the events of The Sims 4.
Similar to its two predecessors, The Sims 3 could be enriched with expansion packs that followed a specific theme, including:
- The Sims 3: World Adventures
- The Sims 3: Ambitions
- The Sims 3: Late Night
- The Sims 3: Generations
- The Sims 3: Pets
- The Sims 3: Showtime
- The Sims 3: Supernatural
- The Sims 3: Seasons
- The Sims 3: University Life
- The Sims 3: Island Paradise
- The Sims 3: Into The Future
Besides following themes and premises that were previously established in The Sims and The Sims 2, I can see how certain expansion packs introduced new things, such as majestic mermaids in Island Paradise and dazzling fairies in Supernatural. I also like how The Sims 3: Pets introduced horses as pets. The familiar aspects of expanded life, such as life at a college campus and new ones, such as a futuristic lifestyle sure looked life-like in outstanding graphics in The Sims 3. At the time, it was essential to honour the cred of the expansion packs from The Sims 2, but at least feature some newer themes to increase the variety of additions to the world in complete control in a simmer’s hands.
What can I say about the stuff packs for The Sims 3? The 70s, 80s and 90s pack are a real treat for those who miss a time that they considered “the good old days”. Despite concerns over its price and its sudden discontinuation, Katy Perry’s Sweet Treats must have been at least…well…a sweet treat for simmers who also declared themselves to be fans of the singer. The Diesel stuff pack was pretty much The Sims 3’s answer to The Sims 2’s collaboration with H&M. If you wish for a more creative stuff pack that are involved in different movie genres in your copy of The Sims 3, then The Sims 3: Movie Stuff would be right up your alley. The other stuff packs were:
- High-End Loft Stuff
- Fast Lane
- Outdoor Living Stuff
- Town Life Stuff
- Master Suite Stuff
Again, I understand that the stuff packs may not seem all that unnecessary to some simmers, but I guess the variety of themes can at least appeal to other simmers with specific tastes who at least would like to refreshingly jazz things up a little in their copies at times.
What can I say about The Sims 3 outside of the PC and version for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3? Too bad the version for the Nintendo Wii was quite unfavourable due to numerous glitches and less customisation. I remember playing the mobile version of the World Adventures expansion pack on my iPod Touch, but it was mostly quite unsatisfactory by itself, along with the Nintendo DS port of The Sims 3. I was really not too keen on the DS port’s graphics, despite being quite fascinated at how its setting took place during the adulthood of Alexander, Mortimer and Bella Goth’s son from The Sims 2. As for the mobile port of The Sims 3: World Adventures, I hated losing at the lower-class aeroplane minigame as it resulted in low hygiene due to throwing up. I also hated accidentally creeping out the non-playable sims by using their bathtubs or beds when I had to do to try and fill their needs! I would say that the list of ports for The Sims 3 outside of PC gaming was not a complete flaming bag of poo, but a rather mixed bag.
The Sims Medieval was an interesting spin-off that was quite appealing to gamers who are into medieval-themed games, to say the least. Its only expansion pack, The Sims Medieval: Pirates & Nobles featured new quests and aspects of a pirate’s life. I wonder if any simmer has ever made an ancestor for Bella Goth. Reflecting on how I played the mobile port of The Sims 3: World Adventure, I recall playing the mobile port of The Sims Medieval. I loved how my princess eventually got married after trying to make her the best gentlewoman she can be, even though she kicked a barrel and probably got kicked out of the tavern for it one time. Strangely enough, the Blackberry version that was released in 2013 consisted of a format that was highly similar to the mobile version of The Sims 2: Castaway from 2007. I wonder if there could be a sudden reveal of The Sims Medieval series at some point in this new decade. If so, there ought to be a sequel that might as well be titled “The Sims Medieval 2” for the current generation of PC gaming.
When I was still in high school, I was surprised to see a fully grown Bella Goth return in The Sims Social on Facebook, leading to how her new life in Littlehaven is set after her alien abduction in The Sims 2. But wait! What if…the interpretation of her who likes Chinese food is actually the impostor from Strangetown in the PC version of The Sims 2?! Conspiracy theories aside, a big aspect of the spin-off’s individuality was how it consisted of a vibrant 2D art style. A simmer could do various tasks to gain rewards day after day but also remain determined to result in feeling inspired after fulfilling their needs, which is essential in what makes the series quite challenging for casual gamers. I liked how categories of relationships can be levelled up, including the time when the “Naughty Friends” status was introduced. I remember seeing two themes that were based on Alice in Wonderland, including the one that was around to promote Alice: Madness Returns. After almost two years of slowly decreasing popularity, the game was shut down, along with Pet Society due to the sad closure of Playfish.
Here is the era we know and love today; The Sims 4. Despite a lot of praise, the base game was quite disappointing at first. Nevertheless, the base game was still praised for a highly advanced way to modify a sim’s facial features and body shape. After receiving a copy of the game for my birthday, I even created two female sims based on Anna and Elsa from Frozen. The main neighbourhood is set in an alternative timeline, thus resembling a reboot. Furthermore, Bella Goth returned with her family, looking absolutely beautiful in her signature red dress whilst her daughter got aged up to a teenager. I remember creating a sim based on my own creepypasta character, Not Really Lisa in the PlayStation 4 version of the base game, just like how I created her younger and more cheerful self in the Xbox 360 version of The Sims 3. Just like in The Sims 2 and The Sims 3, a fellow simmer can always give a premade sim or their home a makeover, which is quite similar to carefully giving a modern Polly Pocket compact playset a repaint, giving it vibrant new colours and stunning details.
Not only are there expansion and stuff packs for The Sims 4, but there are also game packs. It is quite admirable how The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle is the first expansion to be heavily based on eco-living. The second game pack named “The Sims 4: Spa Day” for The Sims 4 exclusively featured a new outfit for Bella Goth. Speaking of the mentioning of my own creepypasta character a little earlier, the most recent stuff pack is known as the “Paranormal” stuff pack. Would you believe that the packs are also available for the console ports for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, thus making those ports much more like the PC port? Well, The Sims 4 for consoles is indeed an exact conversion of their PC counterpart, which is rather exceptional for providing as much ambition for PlayStation 4 players and Xbox One buddies who also declare themselves to be simmers. Surely the teaser trailer for either The Sims 5 or an HD remake of the first Sims game will be released either later this year or at some point in 2022, but will either of them have their expansion packs sold separately throughout the next lustrum?
Does anyone else miss the MySims series? The first game might as well be considered the lovechild of the main series and Animal Crossing. It is a shame the navigations in the Wii and PC versions were not all that helpful to some of us, despite how there was a miniature map at the bottom right corner. Nonetheless, there was a wide variety of characters with many different interests within six categories:
The series then expanded with different premises, including a party full of minigames. The cartoony art style of the series was quite fresh and made it more appealing to young casual gamers at the time. Sadly, the franchise came to a halt after the release of MySims SkyHeroes, possibly due to its lower reception. Nonetheless, three characters from the series appeared to have made a comeback in The Sims 4. I would love to see a grand return of the MySims series for the Nintendo Switch. Perhaps the revival can be titled “MySims City” and bring the series back to its original roots, especially the first game’s premise for new and young simmers. I am sure that certain players have sincerely enjoyed rapping about smashing trucks and trashcans.
Between mid and late 2012, I downloaded The Sims FreePlay on my fourth-generation iPod touch and was cunningly amused at how I could shake it about twice to make a sim puke on the ground. Aside from that, I do agree that levelling up takes too long and I wish they did not scrap the personalities from the earlier versions at some point, but at least the returned after the Life Dreams And Legacies Update. And I am sorry, but the woohooing is…boring. They just stand there and embrace behind a huge blob of pixels. Nonetheless, I have a fond memory of an event that featured plumbobs that were as red as the petals of special flowers in association with (RED) eleven months after I downloaded the app on my iPad Air. Ah, good old 2014. I adore how the game’s latest update features the aspects of a beautiful outdoor wedding. During the 20th anniversary of the Sims franchise, Bella Goth made a special appearance at the nightclub. How I adored the idea of The Sims in a crossover with Care Bears later that year. I, along with many fellow simmers shall wish The Sims FreePlay a happy 10th anniversary this December!
Back in 2018, I fondly played and reviewed The Sims Mobile, the lovechild of The Sims FreePlay and The Sims Social. I loved the sight of the pink plumbobs in every event, but oh how I hated the way appliances broke very easily in the house! At least I appreciated the fascinating relationships one sim can have with the other, including a relationship that was basically a love-hate one and how the gameplay was quite practical for what the app’s premise was aiming for, including a rather suspenseful chance move that could either result in success or disaster. Other than, you can give sims created by other simmers in your friend list any of the adorable bunny stickers depending on what they think of their appearance. It sure was quite interesting to see Bella Goth wear a red jumper with denim jeans and boots rather than her usual strapless dress. Despite a few weird glitches I encountered during my two reviews, I am still infatuated with the app’s vibrant graphics, casual gameplay and the usual range of customisation, including the advanced body modification options similar to the ones in The Sims 4.
What other spin-off games and sad cancellations have there been throughout two decades of escaping reality and taking control of many sims’ lives? Well, during the times of gaming on mobile phones and iPods being hip in the 2000s, three separate spin-off games allowed a simmer to customise their own sim and strive to the best at an activity, whether it would be bowling, pool or being a DJ. Strangely enough, almost a decade later, there was a project titled “The Sims Olympus” that had quite a different approach and was meant to be yet another online experience. Sadly, due to insufficient funds and negative feedback from testers, it was cancelled in favour of The Sims 4. If The Sims 5 ought to finally become official, I supposed there can be the option to play an online equivalent to honour the legacies of The Sims Online, The Sims Social and the wasted potential of The Sims Olympus. I also believe that there can be various minigames that are quite similar to the three mobile games that were solely focused on nightclub activities to make it even more ambitious and refreshing with a new minor style of gameplay.
For two decades, controlling the lives of sims in a neighbourhood has been godlike and creatively ambitious. Will there be The Sims 5? Or will there be a remake of The Sims with advanced graphics and animations? Part of me still believes that it would be more necessary to remake The Sims to prevent the outcome of The Sims 5 from seeming quite pointless unless it can be set in an interesting time before the events of The Sims 4. But either way, will a sim be able to eat a rainbow grilled cheese sandwich like the one from Cooking Mama: Cookstar? Aside from that, it would be awesome if there can be a new Game & Watch game that is a special port of the first-ever Legend Of Zelda game in association with the 35th anniversary of the franchise , highly similar to the Game & Watch game that is a port of Super Mario Bros. for celebrating Mario’s 35th anniversary. Whatever is next for The Sims, I hope my fellow simmers enjoy celebrating the 21st anniversary, especially when they are sinking their teeth into a grilled cheese sandwich before having a slice of the cake. Dag dag!