With the Xbox version of The Sims I discovered a way to load story mode sims in the normal sandbox mode of the game,which would allow all Story mode lots and sims (Landgrabb, Roomies, Peacock, Party Guys/Girls) to be fully playable. Normally you are not able to control and play these sims directly except for Dudley/Mimi and whichever Roomies/Party sims you have picked to move in with. There is a way to trick the game into loading these lots and treating it a a normal sandbox mode save by renaming some ngh files around.
Ngh files are like an archive or the character files and house files used by the game. If you are familiar with the PC version of the original game they are equivalent to the Userdata folder, but in the form of a single file. ngh files on the disc serve as the default savegame when the player starts a new game, and are then converted/signed and saved to the memory card of the console, or the hard drive in the case of the xbox. Since the game stores template ngh files on the disc, we swap the files around , ie the default and story files over we can load story lots in the sandbox mode of the game. Sadly ngh files cannot be extracted, unlike the ARC files so we cannot manipulate the files individually as we would with the PC version.
To do this on the GameCube, it s a bit more complicated, since the Gamecube deals with ISO files for its backups, as opposed to the xbox which lets you rip and store the files as is on its hard drive, no ISO images needed. and since most modded dashboard have a file manager built in you are able to manipulate the game files on the xbox itself. Gamecube images on the other hand have some sort of protection mechanism which makes editing no so straight forward without some additional software. That being GCRebuilder.
You will need a Gamecube capable of loading backup game, or a soft-modded Nintendo Wii with a Gamecube controller and memory card support. At least with the Gamecube have the option of using the Dolphin emulator which makes it easier to test the game. I’m using both Dolphin and a Nintendo Wii with DIOS-MIOS installed to run Gamecube backups.
Editing the Gamecube ISO images
GCRebuilder is a Windows based utility but will work with wine or lutris. For this we are going to trick the game by renaming a few files that the game uses to load the default neighbourhoods. Since the files us the same format, we can rename then if we want to load lots in another mode.
- Select Image, Then Open
- Select the iso file, in this case it would be Sims backup iso
- Once loaded, Right click root (near &&SystemData folder), then select Export
- Once it has fully extracted, close the image by selecting Image, then Close
- Choose the folder to export it too, this will export the contents of the disc to the folder for editing
- Navigate to the folder with the extracted contents, there should be a root, and within that a Runtime folder where the files are located.
- Swap the chall, default and story files around by renaming them
- Rebuild the image
chall.ngh – used for the 2 player challenge mode
default.ngh – default neighbourhood for the play the sims mode
story.ngh – default neighbourhood used for the get a life game mode. Most of the sims and lots are hidden are available in a level based format. There are some sims here that were never meant to be controlled with.
You will want to backup the default.ngh file, and rename the story.ngh or chall.ngh to default.ngh to trick the game into starting a new file with the swapped ngh file. Once you save the game, you can restore the original iso/disc since the lots/sims will be saved onto the memory card.
- Select Root, then Open, and then navigate to the folder that has the extracted sims files and select the root folder.
- To rebuild the new iso file, choose Root, the Save
- Finally, Choose Root, then Rebuild
- Test the image using the Dolphin emulator
Pre Made save-files
The save files have both the story and the challenge mode sims and lots into pre-made neighbourhoods that can be loaded in ‘Play the Sims’ mode
Unfortunately you can only have one save file per memory card unlike the Xbox or PS2 versions, this means that unless you have two Gamecube memory cards that you can swap, you can only have one neighbourhood installed along with one story mode save. This is probably due to the Gamecube memory cards having only 512KB, versus the 8MB PS2 and the 4GB user formatted storage in the Xbox.
With a real Gamecube, you can use an Action Replay, or a equivalent device to copy the save file. With the Wii, depending on if the Wii is soft-modded and what home-brew the Wii is running to run Gamecube backups, DIOS-MIOS and Nintendont allow you to create virtual memory cards or you can use home-brew utilities to copy save files from a FAT32 memory stick to a real Gamecube memory card, providing your Wii console model has Gamecube memory card slots.