What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, unlike the Sims games available for PCs and consoles, which are known for their adult themes, this DS game is suitable for children. Players take on the role of a sim running a pet spa, and play is more or less limited to looking after animals by playing with them, grooming them, and dressing them up in silly clothes. The only antic that might raise eyebrows occurs when your sim fails to make it to the bathroom -- he or she will moan a little and shake a leg as though it were wet. Unfortunately, it also misses a good learning opportunity. While some pet care simulators impart valuable and interesting information about animals over the course of the game, Apartment Pets is unlikely to deliver any wisdom at all, other than that pets need to be washed regularly and entertained.
What's it about?
THE SIMS 2: APARTMENT PETS has little to do with The Sims 2 or any of its expansions (including the recently released and similarly titled The Sims 2: Apartment Life), offering instead a simplified sort of simulation that focuses almost solely on grooming and caring for animals at a pet spa. As a result, it's remarkably kid-friendly; unlike other Sims games, there are no romances, fights, bills to pay, or friendships to cultivate. Players still have to look after their sims' basic human needs, ensuring that they eat, sleep, and relieve themselves regularly, but even these necessities prove less pressing and easier to satisfy than in other Sims games.
While Apartment Pets has little in the way of content that could be deemed unsuitable for children, it also lacks some of the panache that has made the Sims games so popular with older players. Part of the appeal of Sims games is that they provide a world full of freedom and opportunity, allowing players to lead their digital avatars in whatever direction strikes their fancy. The problem with Apartment Pets is that players are locked into a vigorously repetitive routine right from the start. Most days in your sim's life play out more or less like this: wake up, eat, go to the bathroom, then head downstairs to the spa and examine and treat an endless stream of dogs, cats, and other house pets. When you earn enough cash, you can spend a few minutes buying items to upgrade your shop or your apartment. Then it's back to the grind.
Is it any good?
To be fair, there's a little more to it than that. The act of treating a pet, for example, is made up of lots of little mini-games. The player may also choose to chum around with the animals by adorning them in a variety of pet clothes, stroking them, or playing games like fetching a ball, though these activities feel a little like a poor man's Nintendogs. There are also a few side challenges available, including a doggy treasure hunt and a couple of music games. But while there are plenty of activities, they're all extremely brief and lose their appeal the more you play them. It's fun at the start, and some crisp and clean 3-D animal animations help keep the players' interest, but it eventually grows wearisome.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the responsibilities involved in caring for pets, and whether the game does a good job of simulating them. In your experience, what things are important to ensure a pet's health and happiness? Are they in the game? Do you think the game's pets behaved like real animals? How could the player's interactions with the pets have been made to feel more realistic?