Bustin’ Out was one of the first handheld outings for the Sims series. It led to a big departure from the point and click method the PC version of the Sims had of interacting with objects, favouring you to have direct control over your character. This version of the Sims was also much more limited in the amount of freedom the player had, but swapped this for better direction. Either way, for a first handheld showing, it worked.
I wouldn’t say the story is one of the strong points to this game. You start off by living at your uncle’s farm in SimValley, and the main aim of the game is to progress from here until you own the mansion overlooking SimValley. In between all this are various threads which you have to pick up and solve.
The game has an objective-goal based style to the story, where the story is driven by the progression of the goals. This does mean that you can’t deviate from the story, which annoyed me, as I’m probably too used to the freedom of the PC versions.
Ah, and there are bits of the story which just don’t make sense. The most glaring bit of this is when the endgame kicks in, and it drops a large plot point on you which feels like it came out of nowhere. Although, this does help tie it to the next game in the series, the Urbz.
I like the techno style music this game uses for the most part, as well as the remixes from the PC versions, although what they did with the build mode music in one of the minigames is interesting…
However, the music does get repetitive after a while, and there’s a good chance you’ll end up turning the volume off.
Some of the mumbles that the Sims make when they’re talking to you sound little more than mumbles, and several Sims reuse mumbles. Conversational noises can become quite repetitive.
Well, for a start the graphics look nice and bright on the GBA. Definitely not what I was expecting. The character models walk quite smoothly, and it looks as though the models are based somewhat on the style of the older PC games.
There is a bit of weird partial-3D-isometric doohickery going on, which can normally be seen when your character goes behind a wall and they turn invisible.
One thing I do like with the graphics is that there’s no long wait for the game to load when changing screens or going into buildings, the changeover is pretty seamless.
The day to night changes are quite well done as well, and it isn’t jarring when the clock changes, as the lighting gradually changes as the time moves on. Weather effects are also quite well done, with the rain in particular looking quite good.
Character models when in conversation with other Sims are extremely well detailed.
There are a few graphical glitches present in this game, but nothing that really spoils it. Occasionally some items look extremely pixelated, but again, it’s nothing that detracts from the game itself.
I know there’s the opportunity to link up with another copy of this game. I’ve yet to find someone else who does have another copy, though.
As the game has a very defined goal orientated style of gameplay, it’s hard to have a challenge, as the game tells you exactly what needs to be done to progress. Occasionally it can be difficult to find a character to trigger the next part of a goal or objective, but usually by phoning them you can get a rough idea of their location and find them that way.
Trying to raise skills can be quite tough, as you often get thrown off skill objects if a certain motive drops too low, but I’ve discovered that if you study a skill via a book in the library, you will keep on learning that skill until you reach the next skill point, regardless of motive. I am wondering if this is a potential glitch, as learning via book seems to skip out important motives such as hunger dropping to rock bottom in favour of getting the next skill point.
As for motive management itself, as motives increase so quickly when interacting with objects to restore them, you never feel as though you’re under pressure to keep on top of motives. A bit disappointing as I also enjoyed the micromanagement aspect of the motive system in the original PC version.
Controls for this game were pretty good. D-pad moves your Sim around, and you could press ‘B’ to run, which is most likely going to be your preferred method of getting around. I liked how running also causes the hygiene and energy motives to drop faster than walking does, which adds a touch of realism to the game.
Motives are the same eight as there were in the original PC version, and drop accordingly when left unattended. If hunger is allowed to drop to the bottom, it results in your Sim passing out and ending up at the hospital, with a large cut in the other motives. Apart from bladder and energy however, there aren’t really any other real negative consequences for letting motives drop to the btoom, apart from your Sim being in a foul mood.
With the goal-orientated style, this game almost feels like an RPG. I personally quite like the way you could complete objectives for each goal in any order you wanted, before progressing onto the next goal.
Social interactions have been massacred in this game when compared to the original. Whereas in the original PC version you have a variety of interactions to do, in this game you get a few preset options for talking to another Sim, and the relationship bar goes up or down depending on the Sim’s reaction to the option you picked. However, some of the stuff had a few eyebrows risen from me, especially some of the more flirtatious and romantic interactions (and this game got rated an E?).
Customization took a large hit in this game, with there being very few options for clothing and colour of clothing, and very limited options for hair and skin colour. The aspect of building your own house has been completely lost, with you moving into premade homes as you progress along the storyline, and only a few of the items from the PC version are available to buy in the in-game shops. This is probably the area where this game differs from the original the most.
As far as jobs go, you get to play a set of minigames which earn you money as you play them, and you gain job promotions, enabling you to earn more money, as long as you have the required skill level and obtain a high enough amount of money for the promotion. Some of these games are rather out there, and seem to have little to no connection to the plot, some are pretty boring. I found the lawn mowing game which is unlocked at the start to be the one I most commonly used for earning money. It’s a shame, as with more work, these minigames could have been quite good fun, especially as they are an integral part of the game.
After you’ve completed this game, there isn’t really any reason to go back and do it all over again. Despite that, I seem to keep finding myself coming back to it…
Replay Value: 4
A worthy first outing for the Sims on the handheld, and probably still worth picking up now, if you can find it for cheap.
Written by Karen