Urbal remedies

Since The Sims first appeared on PC over five years ago, there has been a multitude of new versions and various updates, including Bustin' Out, Nightlife, Hot Date and Makin' Magic.

The latest title to join the ever expanding family is The Urbz: Sims in the City on Nintendo DS, which, after its first weekend on sale, has helped to propel the game to number 14 from number 30 in the All Formats Chart.

So how have Maxis, the game's creators and developers, taken to DS? We put some questions to the game's producer, Bim Majekodunmi, to find out.

What are the main differences between the DS and GBA versions of The Urbz?
The first difference you'll notice is the touch-screen functionally. Players will use the touch-screen to talk to fellow Urbz, manage their inventory, and play with pets and new minigames.

In mission one, the player will uncover clues to the exclusive Splicer Island location, available only on DS. You will discover that, in order to keep the crew on Splicer Island happy, you will have to complete exclusive mission goals and minigames.

Another first for The Sims franchise, and an exclusive feature on DS, is the ability to create your own pet that will help accomplish critical mission goals. Pets include a veloci-rooster, jackalope, unicorn and Simosarus Rex. Players can also look forward to all new characters, Xizzle power-ups and unique objects.

Did you consider the possibility of including any wireless features?
Yes we did. However, due to the short production cycle, coupled with the unknowns inherent when working on a brand-new platform, we were unable to implement wireless features.

Were there other ideas for utilising the touch-screen that didn't make it into the game?
We wanted to implement a cell phone feature, for calling and tracking Urbz on-the-go, that didn't make it into final implementation. What the player will discover is the beautifully rendered 3D map that tracks the location of vehicles used by your Urb.

What were your initial impressions of DS?
Everyone was excited about the platform as it raises the bar - graphically and interactively. The Pictochat feature is fun and DS games look and feel awesome. We look forward to creating games that continue to leverage the functionality and novel features of DS.

Can you tell us which device you prefer - DS or PSP?
Both handheld consoles have their strengths. Personally, we enjoy the viewing and playing on DS. We're sure PSP's power, coupled with the size and mobility of a handheld, will certainly attract gamers who are used to console graphics and capabilities.

The Urbz: Sims in the City is out now for DS, GBA, PS2, Xbox and Gamecube