Category Archives: PlayStation 2

Fantavision

A PS2 techdemo turned into a game

It’s a simple game where you set off fireworks by combining various flares of the same colour together to set off a chain. You are limited to chaining flairs of the same colour together, but you can use the rainbow-colored flairs to combine flairs of a different colour. Bonus can also be combined to increase your score, and some will help spell out the word Starmine, which is used to enable a special mode to increase your score.
If you fail to set off a flare, you will lose a certain amount of life, which the game ends when this has been depleted, You can lose life even by chaining a few flares and have them go out since flares will last on screen for around 10 seconds. This does give a risk element when combining flares of multiple colours and means you will have to gamble between setting off your flares or waiting to see if you can increase your chain combo.

There is also a two-player mode which is similar to the single-player mode, but players have the ability to swap the screen with a unique powerup.

Red/Green/Blue: Common flair colours
Wild flare: this will be white and is one of the flairs that allows you to combine flares of different colors
Star item: Adds a letter to the Starmine meter below, appears as a star
Energy item: Replenishes your life meter, appears as the letter E
Bonus point: Multiplies your bonus score, appears as a letter B

After you complete a level, the game will automatically save a replay to your memory card which you can replay later, and can apply different effects and change the angle and the weather whilst you watch the fireworks.

When you complete all eight levels, the extra section is unlocked.

Music and Region differences

Each region has its own unique soundtrack which was meant to reflect the popular genre of the time. Europe as dance/trance-like music whilst the US has NewWave/Pop music. These also carry over into the cutscenes of the game.

On the topic of sound, this is one of the games that does not output audio over the PS2 Optical audio connection (sometimes known as S/PDIF) and you have to revert to the AV Multi out audio, I’m not sure why this is, or if the game is outputting audio my AV Receiver (Yamaha RX-V481D) does not understand.

Cutscenes

I’m not sure what relevance these have to the game, they seem to appear after every few levels showing a sub-urban family playing and talking with one another, set in a 1950s period,, yet you can see them playing with PS2 controllers. Since the later levels feature you being in space, maybe it’s a reference to the 1950s space race.

I’m more confused why the main menu has phonetic pronunciations of the above text?

A PS2 classic

Sony later re-released this game onto the PS4 as part of the PS2 classics, which is a collection of PS2 games running in an emulator. Here the game benefits from improved graphics as the emulator runs in a higher resolution and trophies.

Depending on your PSN Store region, you will get either the EU/ US or Japan version of the game with its own soundtrack. This can also mean if you’re in Europe, you’re still getting the PAL version of the game, complete with its 50Hz goodness, although it’s very hard to notice on the emulator (The PS4 will output 60Hz regardless of when the game is running)

Conclusion

Considering this was originally conceived as a tech demo, it’s a good title if you disregard the wacky cutscenes, and its music makes it compelling to play. Fantavision would be the only game of its type to be released on Sony, no sequels or ports to other systems were developed, shame since it would be ideal on the PSP or as a PSN exclusive title, a simple puzzle game that’s easy to get into.

Ridge Racer Type 4

Widely considered to be the best in the Ridge Racer series, its soundtrack and the opening FMV are defiantly most memorable. This would be the last Ridge Racer game released for the original PlayStation.

The game improves on the mechanics from Rage Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution, complete with eight brand new tracks and a soundtrack that’s a complete departure from the drum & bass themes from the previous instalment. Graphics-wise the game sees a shift that pushes the PlayStation hardware to the extreme, thanks to the use of Gouraud shading that gives a shade of depth to the polygons, giving the game a realistic appearance.

To keep a stable 30FPS, which was the game’s target framerate, certain changes are made to the enemy opponents, where you only have up to 4 cars on screen at the same time, of which the AI-controlled cars are more spread out across the track. In contrast to the early titles where you will pass multiple cars in the same area, in R4 the opponents feel spaced out and you pass by them in a linear fashion.

Grand Prix

There is a story mode of some sort, you can choose from four teams that will have their own unique manager representing the company. Here you have a direct dialog that gives more detail into the backstory of the teams and how they tie into the Ridge Racer Grand Prix. After every race you will have a meeting with them and their dialog is dependent on how you perform (which place you finish in). There is no dialogue for when you lose or fail to qualify, as the game will prompt you to retry or will go straight to a game over screen.
The team choice will also affect the ending epilogue (although on some emulators there is a bug that causes only the MMM epilogue to play)

The Teams

Four teams come with Ridge Racer Type 4, all of which are some reference to another Namco arcade game franchise.

Conversation with your team representative

Micro Mouse Mappy: A French racing team led by Sophie Chevalier. The easiest team in the game which is recommended for new players.
R.T.S: Lead by Enki Gilbert, He starts off as a perfectionist, expecting you to come in first place in every race but eventually softens u after learning of the Pac Racing Club’s entry. Its implied the manager looks to the player as a second son, due to his actual son being involved in an accident that cost him his life. Towards the end he wants the player to take the race easy, fearing history could repeat again like the death of his son.
Dig Racing Team: My favorite team since I like the underdog teams, They’re a struggling team that is under budget and as a result will enable to provide fast cars from a majority of the races, meaning you will need to rely on skill in order to get ahead of the competition.
Pac Racing Club: Lead by Shinji Yazaki, seems to only care about the results of the race, but will open up over time about a past Gran Prix where Enki’s son died during a race in which he was involved in.

The Cars

There are lots of cars included in the game, over 320 in fact. Many of these are unlocked by beating the Grand Prix modes across various teams and car manufacturers.

Garage cars are the cars you unlock during the Grand Prix events and can come from four manufacturers, across four different teams, giving 16 different design variations. However the game will reward you with a different car depending on your performance of the early events, ie, if you come 1st 2nd or 3rd during the first heat, will influence the type of upgrades you have, which the game counts as an additional car. Therefore in order to unlock all cars, you have to play the Grand Prix with the same manufacturer/team combo several times, coming deliberately in 3rd/2nd and 1st place for each run.
The garage can only hold a limited amount of cars, and will you have to swap out locked cars in order to play them in time attack or link/multiplayer.

There are also a few preset cars that are already unlocked for use in time attack or for two-player mode, these are also in grip or drift varieties. These don’t seem to have any defined name, other than Preset G3, Preset D4, etc. Most players will refer to them by the color, which comes in (red, black/Grey, white or yellow)

And then you have the cars unlocked using the extra trials, you can only unlock these by winning a Grand Prix with a specific manufacturer, although the team does not matter much, except for the performance tuning.

The Tracks

  • Helter Skelter: The first track you will probably play, set in Japan Yokohama and shares with Out Of Blue. A good track that serves as an introduction to the game’s drift mechanics and style. The song Pearl Blue Soul always plays on this course.
  • Wonderhill: The second track that is played on a late spring afternoon that gives a sunset sky. This track shares with the Heaven and Hell track that appears later in the game. The music on this track can differ if you are racing with the RTS team (Revlimit Funk plays), otherwise Naked Glow will usually play, and it really suits this course
  • Edge of the Earth: Set at night in an airport that leads into a small city, one of my favourite courses since you can go full speed, but also must be mindful of the courses.
  • Out of Blue: In contrast to the previous track, this one is set very early in the morning and shared with Helter Skelter, with OOB separating into its own path, which features locations near a shipping dock. Some of the scenery here reminds me of the original Ridge Racer track. The corners on this track can be brutal, so make sure you are used to the car’s handling.
  • Phantomile: It’s a very short course in comparison to the others, and the corners are rather savage. The Motor Species song always plays for this course. Also just so happens this race is set on the same day as my birthday.
  • Brightest Nite: Another course set at night time, this one also shares with Edge of the Earth. This one is set later at night and features a huge drop towards the end of the tack
  • Heaven and Hell: Shares with Heaven and hell, although it’s set earlier in the day which gives off a different feel of the track, being much brighter.
  • Shooting Hoops: The last track to race and it’s a good and simple one, set at midnight of December 31st 1999 on the eve of the new millennium. The song Movin’ in Circles always plays for this track and on the last lap you can see fireworks being set off as the new millennium is upon us (Cue airplanes falling out of the sky due to the Y2K bug)

Vs and Link Battle

Link battle adds the ability to play with up to four different players, across two consoles. This is similar to how early titles handled multiplayer where two consoles are connected together using the official link cable, along with two displays and copies of the game.
If the game detects another console connected using the serial link cable, the link battle option will appear in the main menu. Sadly in PCSX-R whilst we are able to establish a link between two instances with a Linux Virtual machine (running Ubuntu & Pop_OS), the speed is incredibly slow and unplayable, and whilst we can navigate the link mode menus, the game will display an error message when we try to start the race.

The regular VS mode can also be accessed by having two controllers connected to the console, where the game plays in a split-screen mode allowing for both racers to race at the same time through one console. You can combine this with the link battle to have a total of four players in a single race, with two players per console.

The multitap is not supported here, only a maximum of two players per console.

Further Information

Decal Editor

Like in Rage Racer, a decal can be created and applied to your team’s car which can be any pattern. Here the PlayStation mouse is best used

The Namco NeGcon is fully supported for steering and acceleration, in addition to the DualShock analog sticks.

A visual blur effect can be applied when a race is being replayed, activated by pressing the L1 or R1 buttons.

X-Squad

One of the PS2 launch titles, try doing this on a Dreamcast

A third person sort of FPS where you shoot stuff. The main plot of the game is set in the year 2037, terrorists have taken over a military base and it’s up to the X-Squad to restore it, following the failure of the previous W-Squad mentioned in the game.

The game is similar in concept to SOCOM and Ghost Recon where you can issue squad commands to your teammates, typically 3 members. These are fairly basic as you can only command them to be oppressive or stealth/defensive.

The game UI, screams early 2000 era design and is where you can manage your inventory. At the end of each level you will earn points depending on the difficulty the level was completed at. You can use these to purchase new weapons, ammunition, shields and gadgets to help complete the next level. You can also find pickups, like leftover ammunition when you kill an enemy to keep your character going.

You can also manage your teammates inventories, and can juggle weapons, health kits between them.

The Squad

John Ash Connors: The main character and the only character you can control. Only 26 years old and has grey/silver hair.

Maya Esteves: One of your teammates who is with you the most, has a tendency to get shot and run out of health, which requires you to constantly transfer health packs to keep her in the game

Judd: A large son of a bitch, standing 6ft 8 and weighing 250 pounds. For his height he appears out of scale since compared to his squad mates, appearing only slightly taller.

Melinda Swanson: Not one for conversation from going by the cutscenes, both her and Judd will occasionally go and do their own thing mid-mission, leaving you stuck with Maya

Colonel Clifford: You encounter this geezer midway through level 4 and he becomes a teammate for the rest of levels 4 and 5. Although his health indicator is set on yellow, he cannot die thankfully, but he ain’t a good shooter.

Dr. Biana: Not a direct squadmate but you encounter her often. Walks around with a briefcase and talks about some Medusa project

As mentioned, Your squadmates can be ordered around to some extent, by giving them commands. You can choose for them to be offensive where they will attack when they come into contact with enemies, or defence/stealth where they will only shoot when attacked.
Each member has a limited amount of weight they can handle, which affects the number of weapons they can carry, with Judd being able to carry the most. It’s best to leave the heavy weapons with him.

The game gives off a very Unreal Tournament / Perfect Dark-like vibe when you look at the level design and the electronic/techno-inspired background music. The main characters also look like UT player models. Considering UT came out one year before this game did (1999), you can see they were influenced by it.

Levels

There are 9 levels in total

Most levels consist of you going from one area to another, in order to get to the end. Many have areas blocked off and require you to find a switch in order to unlock the door/lasers in order to progress through, some of which are located on the exact opposite of the level.

A Switch, you will encounter this often


The design of the levels isn’t very diverse, with you running around an underground tunnel/area. There seem to be no areas set outside

  • Level 1: Set in a waste disposal facility, a pleasant start to the game and an introduction to the game mechanics.
  • Level 2: Has nice chilled music to listen to as you explore the level which is nice since it starts off in a sewer and ends in a waste disposal unit.
  • Level 3: This one gets frustrating, since you are stuck in an ugly maze-like environment, it’s easy to get confused due to how similar the corridors look, with the only major difference being the floor colour. It took me half an hour to find all the switches needed to progress. There’s no end boss but you do have to free the prisoners at the end.
  • Level 4: Set in an abandoned tramway, here you meet the cornel and his side chick for the first time. The objective here is to escort the two of them to the lab using the tram tunnels. The end boss of this level is a horde of guards, so make sure you have plenty of ammo and health kits.
  • Level 5: We battle our way in a laboratory, this time we are missing Judd, who has been replaced with Clifford
  • Level 6: More of the same, it’s set in some sort of a recreation area, although it looks just the same as the other areas. Boss level is set again a large tank, of which your teammates will be incapacitated almost immediately.
  • Level 7: There are a few areas where you will be ambushed and will have enemies firing from all sides, thankfully there are spaces where you can take cover, although try telling your AI teammates that.
  • Level 8: This one was a bit awkward as some corridors are a bit tight, and some are set near ledges where you can fall to your death. You simply walk around the map flipping switches until you unlock the least door. There is one switch that is placed in an awkward spot, where your character can easily fall through and die. There’s no jump button so you have to run over the gap and hope for the best. The end boss is brutal, you get ambushed by four enemies that will continuously respawn even if you kill them, and Simpson who is equipped with an overpowered weapon.
  • Level 9: This is where the game shits itself. At the start, you have to contend with enemies that are triple shields, and a good amount of ammo is wasted just having to deal with these. Then you have a boss battle with a large chopper, which will fire heat-seeking missiles repeatedly. At this point the game becomes a glitch fest, in one instance I got landed with a Game Over screen even though my character was still moving and my health bar still have some life it in, Other times my character was alive but the camera had glitched out to an overhead view and was unable to shoot.

I’d say the game was rushed towards the later levels since there are quite a few glitches. Even in the ending cutscene on Youtube they had issues animating the mouth of the characters

Misc Notes

The game only supports 4:3 output, no widescreen here.

From browsing the games disc, Internally the game seems to compress most files into multiple BZP archives, this includes the levels and the opening movies themselves. I have not found a way to decompress these files, and its likely an internal format that EA/Square use.

Links

EA X-Squad Homepage

R.I.P

The Sims Bustin Out

The first exclusive console release of The Sims, and sequel to the original console port. The Sims Bustin Out reuses a lot of assets from the original game with many objects returning along with their animations, however a revised user interface for both Live and the Build/Buy modes. Sims themselves have been redesigned along with new hairstyles, customizations and clothes styles.

The game builds from the previous console instalment and a lot of objects looks familiar. An improvement is the lighting engine, sunrise and sunsets are gradual and look more natural comparted to the previous title, which would blank the screen whilst it switch to day or night mode. The lots themselves are more details with various background elements that set the environment, like moms house being set on a barn, Clubb Rubb being set in a city downtown, Shiny Things Labs being set in a waste plant and Casa Caliente set on a beach.

Bustin Out Mode

The main game mode that is similar to Get A life mode from the first release. You start off at Mom’s house and then progress onto different lots, gaining several job promotions along the way. As you gain promotions and unlock goals you will unlock new objects and social interactions, many of which were exclusive to The Sims Bustin out.

Goals

Like the previous game, Most levels had a few common goals that most be completed in order to unlock new locations, social interactions and objects

Parties can be started by using the Throw Party option on the telephone, which is available from 8am to 11pm. Once started, a random collection of sims will arrive to your house (Just like the MySpace bulletin parties back in the day). To throw a good parties you have to keep your guests needs satisfied. Complete this by serving a few meals (Pizza, BBQ burgers or a meal from the fridge), have plenty of toilets of which you may want to build more outside the house since some lots only have one bathroom. A large table with plenty of room, a few free counters and a dishwasher are also highly recommended. A hot tub is a must, although its quite expensive to buy. Lastly have some music in the background and some entertainment objects. Either a good TV, the unlockable game console,

Its worth noting that if your guests motives fall low, your guests will leave automatically. You can call sims individually if you require a specific guest, which is needed for a few goals. A little cheat you can do is using the Aromaster, and choose the Juniper and Rosemary setting in increate your sims energy in that room.

Upgrade or make improvements: Just spend a certain amount of cash on new objects, or sell and buy new objects to replace the old ones.

Get to know (Sim) Better: Make friends with the named sim, this normally unlocks a new social interaction or a item of clothing.

Lots

Dream Club: The opening dream sequence where you are in a nightclub. You have to kiss your admirer, who turns out to be Candy/Peter from Free Street. This lot is very similar to 3 Free Street in Free play mode judging by the environment surrounding the lot. Sadly this lot does not appear again, the closest to it would be Club Rubb.

Mom’s House: the starting level, House is like a cottage barn. No bus will arrive here for work but is a great place to upgrade your skills, and if your money goes under 200 you will receive a phone call will a reward as a way to earn money. The only annoying bit is Mom like to turn the jukebox/radio on at night.

Mimi’s House: Unlocked after you get a job, some careers will branch here. It’s a decent lot with two bedrooms so there’s plenty of space. Mimi herself is annoying and will constantly make meals and try to interact with out, often standing in the way. The house on the other hard is pretty much complete with little to no improvements needed, its just a bit too .. pink? Probably just purchase a computer or a skill building item, and change the carpet to a more masculine colour.

Dudley’s Trailer: Also unlocked after you get a job, this lot is used for certain careers and is set on a desert trailer park.  Like Mimi, Dudley will also try to interact with you and will cook food constantly. As for the lot itself it’s a bit shit, but not the worst the game has to offer, you will have to clean up the entire lot since there’s a lot of trash. You will want to improve the kitchen area, and replace the couch for a more comfortable one. Also build or expand the bathroom, since sims tend to get stuck in there due to how cramped it is, maybe create an outhouse keeping with the trailer park theme.

Goth Manor: Remember the Goth family from the first Sims game? They reappear here albeit without Cassandra. This might mean the game was set before Cassandra was born, or they just abandoned her. Bella and Mortimer are present, along with a large synthesizer that they love to play at 2am of the morning, thankfully this is in a separate room and won’t wake your sim which is surprising considering how loud it is. You can only control your sim and Mortimer (or Bella if your sim is female) so one if them is guaranteed to be playing the synth. Also if you invite guests round, they start playing the synth too.

Like other Goth households in the sims, this one is haunted and has a chance of ghosts appearing at night. There is even a mission goal for communicating and convincing the ghosts to leave by using the crystal ball.

Studio 8: This is supposed to be an art gallery although I found it a pain to live in since half the lot is dedicated for the gallery. Not much fun items here so you will need to buy a TV or have your sim paint on the easel to increate their fun, which wont be possible if they are in a bad mood. Just don’t sell the art items, since they tend to increase in value over time.

Toane’s Gym: Another crap lot to live in since this is supposed to be a gym but you only have one back room for all sims on a lot to sleep in. It would make sense it this game supported two-story buildings so you could at least have an apartment on the second floor instead of having a couple of rooms squished at the back.

At this point its worth mentioning some of these levels from this point forward have goals relating to marriage, you only have to get married once and it will unlock on every lot you move in. Same applies for the children goal.

Casa Caliente: Some sort of beach shack, set on a tropical beach. You will need to purchase two beds since Malcom will take the existing (unlockable) bed. Overall this is a nice lot to play on since its set on a beech and you have background noise of the waves to listen to.

Club Rubb: A nightclub, this is similar but not the same as the club in the dream sequence when you first started the game. Sadly Malcom takes the dance floor and the laser thing. There are also no bedrooms, and there is some hut at the back of the lot with a recliner and a toaster oven. There are also no bathrooms or showers.

Shiny Things Labs: My favorite lot, this is themed after a desert laboratory, like the Curious family from The Sims 2, Strangetown neighborhood. Its also well equipped with beds, proper bathrooms. Only thing its missing is a living area but there’s plenty of items to increase your sims fun rating.

This maid is fearless

Tinsel Bluffs: looks like a Hollywood themed house, with a garden that overlooks the city. Plenty of well equipped items on this lot although Malcom does take the high end TV.

Pixel Acres: A nudist colony, bet you’d never thought you would see this on The Sims. Thankfully the sim themselves are censored. A gripe with this levels is there’s near to no fucking rooms! That means if you purchase a TV or a stereo , ensure it is turned off otherwise it will wake your sim, since it and the sims beds are in the same room (Outside, which the game considered to be one large room). Also make sure you hire a maid, or ensure you clean up after your sim since dirty plates will cause the room score to plummet. Honestly this is one of the worst levels of the game since there are little rooms built. I ended up building a small hut just for my sim and partner. Chase and Ying were left outside however, if they choose to live like that that’s their choice.

The Octagon: This is a military themed lot, similar to the Grunt family in The Sims 2, you might want to upgrade some of the objects here since the beds are quite basic. Everything else seems to be Ok.

Malcom’s Mansion: The final level of the game, and it’s a nice one being set in a typical mansion. Still only one floor though. The good news is Malcom gets kicked out of the house, allowing for your sim to move in freely.

Free Play Mode

This is the sandbox mode of the Sims game and is quite a downgrade compared to the previous release. You only have three lots to play with on this game, compared to the six on the previous console instalment. And you have a different set of careers in this mode which we will talk about later.

The game save for this mode is intertwined with the bustin out mode which means sims from that mode will appear once your sim progresses to a certain point. The intention is that your player sim can marry and have one of those free play sims move in with your sim, rather than being stuck with your premade sim.

Up to 8 save games can be made, when you take into account the three lots per sim you have up to 24 different sims that can be saved. However only three can be interacted with at a time, its not possible for sims from one save file to appear in another save. Also each save games will have its objects locked again, unless you unlock them again in Bustin Out Mode.

Honestly this mode seems to restrictive and feels like it was tacked on at the last minute. For open ended gameplay you are best of sticking with the PC version of the Sims, or if you prefer playing on s console or like 3D graphics, the original Sims release for consoles.

Lots:

Tutti: A sausage party consisting of four males, intended to be married by a female sim in Bustin Out mode. If you have played the previous console instalment you will recognise some of the names

Frutti: All female version of the Tutti family

Careers

There are seen new careers in Bustin Out mode and five new careers in Free Play mode. These careers remain exclusive to the game and do not appear in the PC counterpart. I’m not sure why the careers are separated by the game mode, as it would have been fun to play this in both Bustin Out and Free Play mode.

Bustin Out Mode:

Paramilitary, Movie Star, Mad Scientist, Jock, Gangster, Fashion Victim and Counter Culture.

Free Play Mode:

Slacker, Swindler, Rock Star, Computer Geek and Artist.

Objects

A few unique objects that are exclusive to the game, many of these are related to skill building

Tumultech Sim-Phony Synthesizer

Like the piano it increases the sims creative skill. The tune that it plays depends on your sims creative level. Bella and Mortimer love to play this at 2am of the morning

Crystal Ball

Can be used to tell your sims fortune and to communicate with the dead, required to complete a goal at Goth manor.

Gene Genie Incubator

Use this to create your sims logic skill and to create a mutant plant which will eat your sims trash. Unlocked after being promoted to virus breeder in the Scientist career.

Sham-Shag Polar Rug

A carpet for your sims to relax on, required to complete a goal as Casa Caliente

Diving board

Sims can perform a single, double or a triple flip, which is required for a later goal. Sims can die if they perform tricks if their needs are low.

Tappan Yakki

Great for parties since it can serve 5 people at a time and is very satisfying for hunger. This can also be used for an outdoor table

Ping pong table

Another fun group activity that raises fun and social with other sims.

Tetherball

Multiple sims can play with this. Unlocked by promotion to Love Guru in the Counter Culture Career Path

Drink’s bar

Also good for parties, sims can make and serve drinks for other sims and builds the cooking skill

Floyd Co. laser Light Show

Emits laser effects and can boost your sims mood. Unlocked at Fingernail Painter in the Fashion Victim Career path.

Kraftking Potters Wheel

Like the artist block, finished pots can be sold. Higher the creative skill, the more valuable the pots will be.

Miss Gyrotic

A programmable robot, similar to the Servo object in The Sims Livin Large. Can be set to clean, socialize and guard. Unlocked after being promoted to Robotician in the Scientist career.

Gyrosport Abdominator

Looks similar to the one in The Sims 2, builds the body skill the fastest. Unlocked by completing the “Seek and Destroy Bioweapons” goal

Hellagraphix 1024 Diamond Edition

A holograph powered game console, does not require a TV and good for playing with multiple sims. Service NPCs can also play with this in a group session. Unlocked following promotion to Boot Polisher in the Paramilitary career.

Sonic Shower

Also in the first console game but not the PC release. Supposedly vibrates all the dirt of your sim with sound, ideal for sims with low neat personality since it does not flood.

Nostalgico Microphone

Fastest way to build the charisma skill, unlocked after getting promoted to Sex Symbol in the Movie Star Career Path.

Information Overload by Bu Butubu

A TV with 9 screens and a snack dispenser, unlocked after reaching Head Coach in the Jock Career Path

Console Specific Features

PlayStation 2 – Online Weekend: Exclusive to the PS2 version, this was an online mode that used the PS2 network adaptor to connect online. This has since ben shut down, but has been resurrected using the same netcode as the Sims Online ran on.

Strangely the Xbox version lacks any sort of online play, which is an odd decision by EA since every Xbox has an ethernet port and was designed for online play, whilst older PS2 units require a network adaptor to go online (The PS2 slim wasn’t a thing when this game was released) Therefore the install base for online play would have been smaller for the PS2 compared to the Xbox, despite the PS2 selling much more consoles.

Xbox – High Definition: The Xbox version is capable of running in high definition with the use of a component cable for the NTSC version of the console. PAL/Europe consoles have this feature disabled since HD wasn’t a standard until the launch of the Xbox 360, but can be enabled by softmodding the console and changing the consoles EEPROM to NTSC and using the component cable. The only issues is the UI does not scale very well with the opening FMV being centered in a pilliarbox, but the 3D environment itself does and is a noticeable improvement with the higher resolution.

(How does this compare to emulated Gamecube/PS2 versions? that are upscaled)

Gamecube – Gameboy Link: The Gamecube version can link with the GameBoy advance version to exchange minigames.

Screenshots from the Gamecube version, captured on the Nintendo Wii using DIOS MIOS. Textures are slightly downgraded, but is hardly noticeable compared to the Xbox version.

Common Annoyances

Lights – They keep breaking. Literally after a few days of your sim being on a lot all the light will be out, with the interaction ‘Replace Bulb’ needed to fix the light. This is common amongst all three console versions and require your sim to constantly repair the lights otherwise the lot will be in darkness. Hiring a handyman will help, but they will soon break, one by one. I even had one break a couple of seconds after it was fixed.

Gossip – This social interaction is a huge pain. First is every sim loves to do it, it’s the most used autonomous social interaction so your sims will often be doing it. The second issue is the time it takes to perform the interaction, sims will often gossip 3-4 times per interaction. Lastly its hard to cancel, literally nothing can stop this interaction once it starts. I’ve had sims miss work because they were stuck gossiping with a sim

Dialogue Boxes – Affects Bustin out mode. NPC sims will often try to tell to you directly though the game, usually by telling you a certain hints on how to complete certain goals or general game mechanics like taking care of your needs. Usually this is fine if there was a way to disable them, but you can’t.

Object Limiter: See the bar on the left when you’re in buy mode? That’s the object limiter since these console has a restriction on the amount of objects that could be placed because of the limited Ram these console had. It’s the same throughout despite the console having varying amounts of RAM (PS2 had 32MB, Xbox 64MB)

The Simpsons Road Rage

Crazy Taxi with a touch of Simpsons

The first Simpsons game on sixth generation consoles, Simpsons Road Rage is a combination of racing with taxi driving. If you’ve played Crazy Taxi before, you will already be familiar with the games concept, but for those who aren’t, the objective here is to pick up passengers and drop them off at their desired location within the time limit, all whilst avoiding traffic obstacles. There are six locations, and over 20 different characters to choose from with slightly different mechanics.

A lot of references to previous episodes are in the game

Story of the game is Mr Burns has brought out the local bus company and has filled the buses with radioactive waste, which are wrecking havoc across Springfield (You will see why in the game)
Simpsons basically predicted Uber.

Moleman gonna Netflix n chill with Patty and Selma

Road Rage

The main mode of the game and the one used to earn money to unlock characters and locations which can be done by dropping passengers off as fast as possible for bonuses. If you fail to get a passenger to their destination on time, you sill get to keep cash accumulated so far.
As soon as you start a game you will have to pick up a passenger by stopping within the blue rings that surround a character, an icon of the destination will appear on the left of the screen, and a hand will appear at the top which will point in the direction where you need to go, along with a point marked on a mini map. The passenger time limit is also displayed.

Avoiding traffic gives an extra bonus

Reward

Slow: Between 0% and 20% of the timer left, $25 bonus only
Normal: Between 21% and 35%of the timer left, $50 and 1 second added
Fast: More than 36% of the timer left, $100 and 3 seconds added
Safe Driver: Awarded when the bonus randomly appears, you have to avoid and NOT hit traffic three times. If you hit three cars then you lose this bonus. $250 and 5 seconds added
Road Rage: Awarded when the bonus randomly appears, you have to destroy a certain amount of objects before you drop the passenger to their location. $1000 and 10 seconds added

The Safe Driver bonus is triggered when ‘Avoid Traffic For Bonus’ appears when you pick up a passenger, the Road Rage bonus is similar where upon picking up a passenger, you are prompted to destroy a set amount of objects by running your car into it.

When the time runts out, its game over. You will return to the score screen to see how much you have collected, then you are promoted to enter your initials if you have a high score, then the game auto-saves and you can then picked a different character or location.

Be Mindful of

Mr Burns will randomly appear during the game, (you will hear him say ‘Get them Smithers’) who will then try to drive into you to disrupt your driving, but due to the poor AI will either miss you completely, or crash into another car or bus.
The Buses, These wreck havoc around the town, and will leave a trial of destruction in their path such as cards and objects which can be of hindrance since you will have to drive round them to avoid them slowing you down.
Transit Stops, Knocking over these add an additional 2 seconds to your time, and you can hit them on your way to your passengers destination
Obstacles: Some objects like billboards are solid and will cause your car to crash which impacts your speed. Some billboards can be knocked down but others are solid and will cause your car to collide with them.
Physics: The game doesn’t have the best physics engine, and sometimes you car can crash into something that isn’t there due to a faulty hit box detection, or when you drive into the air, your car may land at a weird angle which will take some time for your car to correct. Not something that you want when your trying to beat the time limit. Best thing is to ty and straighten your car as its about to land.

Smithers has had enough of Mr Burns

Sunday Drive Mode

The chilled mode, here there’s no time limit or fares. This means you can explore all unlocked locations at your leisure, and find new shortcuts for road rage mode (There are loads) You cannot unlock anything in this mode since you don’t earn any fares.

Marge had a bit of road rage

Mission Mode

A series of 10 missions where you have to complete an objective within the time limit. Most of these missions consist of knocking over X amount of objects within a set time, or just getting a passenger to their destination at a specific time limit. There’s little variety here and you only unlock the special car for Homer when you complete all 10 missions. Also these missions are very short, with the games loading screen taking more time to load than the game-play itself, at least on the PS2 version.

Locations

Evergreen Terrace: The location that contains the iconic Simpsons House, along with the Kwik-E-mart, Springfield Church, Retirement Castle and the Elementary school. This is the only location that’s available at the start of the game.

Entertainment District: Where Moe’s, Duff Brewery, Mini Golf and the Rusty Barnacle are located. Plenty of shortcuts but due to the tall buildings its easy to miss them.

Springfield Dam: The infamous Spring Dam, This locations has no transit stop so you will need a fest vehicle to get the faster times, this is despite having plenty of transit buses? Destinations here are quite far apart, so make use of the shortcuts. You can drive down the damn itself into the water to get to Rancho Relaxo faster. Kamp Krusty, Jittery Joe’s Coffee Shop (From the season 5 episode where Marge and Ruth Powers meet) and the Stonecutters lodge are also here

Nuclear Power-plant: This is an odd location, since half of it is for the Power-plant with the other being for the Springfield Mall. As a result many character locations will be parts of the Plant itself, like the cut off valve or the cooling towers, which makes no sense as to why a character would want a taxi there. At least there’s a baseball stadium that you can drive through, and an Ikea knock off with the Springfield mall.

Totally not Ikea

Downtown: Various familiar locations are here like the Clown College, Androids Dungeon, the Police Station and the Monorail. This location can get a bit busy with a lot of traffic and objects, and there’s plenty of items to destroy when you get Road Rage bonus.

Springfield Mountains: The final location, set in a rural area like the Springfield Dam. Burns Mansion is located here along with Springfield Gorge. A hard level to make any money on since everything is a large distance from their destinations, there are very few short stops.

Versions

The game was released on all three major console platforms (GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, with no native PC port). There’s very little difference between the three, with the Xbox version having the most detailed textures and stable framerate. The PlayStation 2 version is an earlier build and has a few extra passenger locations which were removed since these could be exploited to gain faster time, you could pick up and drop off the passenger, the race back to the same pickup location and since the destination is very short, you could easily make time by exploiting this.

The Sims

Where it all started…

Jump to the console version

Neighbourhood

The streets that raised me

The main screen that shows the playable lots in the neighbourhood, clicking on a house will load that lot. The first game supported only one neighbourhood, with multiple ones requiring an expansion pack. The default install ships with five pre-made families and six houses.

  • Goth: Bella, Mortimer and Cassandra – An easy house to start with, although during the first few nights they have an annoying trait of mourning near the gravestones, usually that stops after a few days
  • Newbie: Bob and Betty, Tutorial household, a nice introduction to The Sims
  • Roomies: Chris and Melissa, another small household, this family is vacant and can be moved into any lot they can afford.
  • Bachelor: Just a single sim, Michael, typically moved into 1 Sim Lane
  • Pleasant: A hard family to play since they have two kids and not much money, and you have to move them into a household. With two adults working two jobs you should be able to progress nicely.

There are also five other families that could be download from the Sims website. Although the website is now offline but mirrors exist to download from. These families can be added to the base game or to any install expansion pack but wont work for the console versions.

  • Hatfield: A very hard family to play. They are poor and don’t have a very good house with basic furniture, but at least both parents are working. If you can get the kids grades (there are three of them) to an A+ you can earn a (random) bonus for good grades.
  • Jones: straightforward family to play with two adults (Edward and Barbara) and a kid (Bobby), similar to the Goth house only less extravagant
  • Valentino: Rudy and Julia, who live in a large house
  • Snooty Patooty: Chip and Buffy, supposed to be a parody of a wealthy couple
  • Maximus: A bizarre family, only two adults and the weirdest house you will ever play

Game elements

Relationship

How well your sim knows other sims and if they are friends, lovers or enemies. Some jobs require you to have a certain amount of friends in order to progress to a promotion. The base games has a simple bar that measures your sims friendship from 1-100, with 100 being the highest. In the base game there is only one relationship bar, with two being introduced with the later expansion packs.

Should be notes if you want two adult sims to share a bed they will need a relationship of 50 or higher

Marriage: Sims can move in and get married if their relationship is high enough, this will move the sim into the household, along with any kids if they live with the sim and that sim is the only adult. Same sex sims have the option too move in instead. That said, the game has a very loose concept of marriage, since its possible for one sim too be married to multiple sims, although if they perform any romantic interactions they can become jealous (and the Woody Woodpecker sound plays)

Skills

  • Cooking: Helps prevent fires, and improves the quality of your sims cooking which increases the effect on hunger. The noise the sim makes will also change when food is cooked at a higher cooking level. When playing a sim for the first time its advised to raise their cooking skill level to two bars or higher to reduce the risk of fire.
  • Mechanical: For repairing items, the higher the mechanical skill the faster they will repair the item. Sims can get electrocuted if they repair an electronic item with a low skill level
  • Creativity: Play the piano or paint on the easel, which is useful since sims with a high creativity skill can sell paintings for a lot more money.
  • Logic: Playing chess or looking through the telescope increases this, only useful for job promotions
  • Charisma: Increased by talking to yourself in them mirror, supposed to help with how your sims interact with others, but is mainly useful for job promotions.
  • Body: Helps keep your sim fit, but this has no affect on their appearance. Its mainly useful for carers and winning fights if your sim has enemies

Disasters

  • Fire: Occurs when your sim tries to cook with a low skill level (2 points or lower) or when you have objects near a fireplace. Buy a fire alarm which will summon a firefighter to extinguish the fire automatically.
  • Burglar: Randomly comes during the night, but can come during the day of the sim is at work. Buying a burglar alarm help the police to capture them when they enter your lot.
  • Floods: If a toilet/sink or the dishwasher breaks, it can cause a flood which must be cleaned up by the sim.
  • Aliens: looking through the telescope at night has a risk of being abducted by aliens, who will randomize the sims personality upon return.

Sims can also leave the game autonomously, adults will leave if they get into a fight multiple times with a sim and have a serious degraded relationship. Kids will leave if their grades fall below D- and will be sent to military school. When these occur the sim is deleted from the game upon saving, and cannot be restored unless you exit without saving.

Jobs

The base game comes with ten careers (Six in the console release) with 10 jobs in each. Each job can be accessed by having your sim promoted by fulfilling the job requirements. Certain jobs will require you to have a set amount of friends, and a set level of skills.

Phone Services

Services can be ordered by using the phone, an NPC will then arrive on the lot

  • Maid: A maid will come from 9am every day, and will always leave by 5pm every day. Cleans the lot.
  • Gardener: Waters the plants, comes every 3 days
  • Repairman: Repairs all broken items on the lot
  • Police: No reason to call them unless a burglar comes on your lot and you don’t have a burglar alarm.
  • Fire Service: Only used if a fire breaks out on your lot and you don’t have a fire alarm, can be fined 500 for a false emergency.
  • Pizza: Delivers pizza to your house, costs $40

The game offers a help systems that pops a question mark symbol in the corner, informing the user that a tip is available.

Buy Mode

Where you can purchase items for your sim. Items are grouped by category – Seating, Surfaces (Tables), decorative, electronic, plumbing, appliances, lighting and miscellaneous (items that don’t belong in any category. Clicking on the buy mode icon again switches to room category view

Releases/Versions

PC Release

The Sims: Original base game

Deluxe Edition: The base game with the Livin Large expansion bundled together in one install, also features The Sims Creator

Complete Collection: Includes all expansions

Mac Release

The game was ported to the Mac platform in 2000 by Aspyr and was for the PowerPC platform. This version was very similar to the PC release and is compatible with any downloadable content intended for the PC release, but attention must be made to the file name length since the Mac is limited to 31 characters instead of 255 characters used on Windows for its file name. Files may need to be renamed for it to be used on the Mac version.

A Carbon version was later released for compatibility with Mac OS X, Carbon was an API that help facilitate the transition from the classic Mac OS to OS X. Carbon applications are only supported on OS 8.6 and higher. When you install the Carbon update, two executables are present in the games folder as some expansion packs rely on the older version. Starting from Hot Date, Carbon was installed as standard.

Lastly, OpenGL is used for the graphics API instead of RAVE, and must be installed on classic Mac OS 9. It is integrated by default on Mac OS X.

The Sims (Console)

A console adaption of the popular PC game but I would consider this as a remake, The Sims are rendered entirely in 3D graphics complete with new lighting effects and redesigned objects. A new game mode, Get a Life is added which featured level type gameplay where the player has to progress from house to house, building up their career.

The console version was released for the PlayStation 2 first, with an updated build being released for the GameCube and Xbox. Compared to the PC release there are a few differences due to the consoles typically having less memory compared to the PC, and with no expansion packs available what you see in the game is what your stuck with. You also cannot download and install objects or families from the PC version.

Get A Life

In this mode you create your own sim, who lives in their own rags to riches story as they start off in a basic house. The aim of this model is to reach the dream house stage, which can be achieved by completing goals that consist of getting certain promotions at work, cleaning and upgrading the houses and throwing parties that sims enjoy.

Whilst this mode seems easy at first, it will get progressively harder as it taker longer to raise your sims skills, jobs will require more friends in order to get promoted and you have to battle with refilling your sims needs quite often.

The Xbox version saves directly to its hard drive and has seemly unlimited save slots, memory units are not directly supported. The PS2 version can save as much as its memory card allows, with each save consuming 1.1MB. The GameCube version is limited to 1 save file per card.

Levels

  1. Moms House – Starter level, objectives are to repair the TV, gain two cooking skill points to make a meal, and borrow 800 bucks from ‘Mom’ who is a pain in the arse and will randomly complain and refuses to clean and cook
  2. Reality Bites – This level can be a bit lonely since its just your sim, Dudley (Mimi if your sim is a female) will occasionally pop round but cannot be interacted with unless you invite him. Thankfully Mom can be invited and two neighbours (The Peacocks, Pauline and Pierre) pop round. Get two job promotions, clean and fix everything and spend $1000 upgrading the future to progress.
  3. Party Animals – You have a new roommate, the snag is its Dudley or Mimi (depending on your sims gender) who are a pain to live with. Like Mom they wont cook or clean, and skill building is out of the question so getting a job promotion is a challenge. But it can be done, Dudley/Mimi can build his body skill using a swimming pool which is enough to get promoted two times. The house itself is quite large which makes navigating it time consuming, you may wish to alter its design as part of the $1000 improvements. Two new neighbours are available to meet, the Froofraw (Fran and Freddy, fuck knows how they came up with that surname), along with Dudley’s Roomies friends (Leon, Carlos, Betty, Layla) which you must befriend one of them in order to move out to the next level. There is also a bonus sim, Bobo the Bum, who walk past your house every morning. Give him food and you can unlock a 2 player mode games.
  4. Hot to Trot – You start with the sim that you chose to move in with from level 3, like the previous levels you need to earn two promotions and spend money on upgrades for the house. Again you will be introduced to more of your roommates friends, only this time you have to choose which one you want to marry. This will always be the sim of the opposite sex, as gay marriage wasn’t a thing until the later games. Once completed you will move onto level 5.
  5. Who loves ya baby: The worst level with the worst designed house. Here you have to earn another two promotions and you have to raise two babies to kids. When you first play the lot, you have to manually rearrange the furniture since tis all condensed into two rooms. The worst part is having to raise two children which seems to drag on, you basically need to feed and sing them to sleep every 8 sim hours.
  6. The last Simoleon: You move into a dream mansion. Being the final level, the objective is to reach the max promotion for your career, have 20,000 in your savings and get your kids grades up to an A+ level which will send them to boarding school. Once finished, the end credits will play and you will be returned to the main menu.

Bonus Unlocks: making friends with neighbour sims unlocks certain create a sim cloths and hairstyles or accessories

Play the Sims

Sandbox style gameplay like the original PC version of the Sims, although you have much less lots to play with, having only 6 lots from the 10 that PC version offered. You are also limited to 4 sims per lot with the PC version supporting 8, however the game internally supports 8 sims when using a modified save file.

Game saves in this mode are the same as the Get a Life versions, with the PS2/Xbox being ale to save multiple games deepening on the storage capacity, but the GameCube version being limited to a single save per card.

In the PS2 version the default neighbourhood has no defined name, and the player must enter one when first created, the Xbox/GameCube prepopulate the name with ‘Willville’ but this can be changed by the player.

Up to 2 players can play on one console using a split screen method, however the lot must have 2 or more sims on the lot.

The premade sims are the same as the Pc version, with the Goth, Pleasant, Newbie, Roomies and Bachelor families being present but with a slightly different appearance and personality. The lots have also been amended since the console versions only support a single story. The Goth, Roomies and newbie families are already moved into a lot, but the Roomies house is unfurnished.

Bonus

2 player mode is supported with the use of mini games, similar to the 2-player mode in Play The Sims mode, but in this mode each level has specific challenges that must be completed by each player, and the player that completes their goals first wins. There are 8 in total:

  • Handyman’s House
  • Maid’s House
  • The Park
  • The Frat House
  • Party Motel: Unlockable only by a cheat, Enter PARTY M in the cheat box
  • Club Abhi
  • Taylor’s Place
  • The Museum

Comparison with the PC

  • Console versions only has a single story houses, the PC supports two
  • Console used 3D rendered graphics for everything, PC version only the sims themselves are 3D with the world being an isometric 2D design
  • No online exchange support for the console
  • No 2 player mode for the PC version, whilst the console versions support split screen like multiplayer

Gamecube

Xbox

PlayStation 2

The PS2 version was a fresh copy, Play The Sims mode is unlocked after starging and saving in Get a Life mode

The options menu

Slight difference with the font display on the PS2 version with larger line spacing

Create a Sim mode, The Xbox version will ask you to confirm the changes upon pressing the B button, the PS2/GameCube versions do not

The GameCube and Xbox version comes wit the name prepopulated

The level start screen

Example of the user interface, the directional pad has a different appearance on each version

The first level, some minor difference in the details. It’s possible the game was built for the PS2 and was the lead development platform and was then ported to the other consoles.

Family selection screen

Buy mode, all versions have the same object limiter

The Xbox version seems to be the best one with its sharper textures, but its graphics ae slightly zoomed in, like the FOV is different compared to the Gamecube/PS2 releases

The Xbox version has bonus loading screens if the game takes too long to load. You will only see this if the game disc is dirty and the console is struggling to load

Glitches

PCem seems to have issues playing the game with certain emulated graphics cards.

Utilities

EA AutoPatch

A utility by EA that checks for updates and downloads them, no longer functional.