The dangerous thing about Sims games is just how addictive they are. The whole point of the series is to make your character happy, successful and glad to be alive, making them the perfect remedy to the drudgery of dragging yourself out of bed, slopping toothpaste down your shirt and nearly killing yourself running for the bus, only to find it too packed for you to catch in any case.
Everyone, it seems, wants to feel the warmth of Sim-ish sunshine, so perhaps that's why EA has released a version of The Sims 2: Pets practically identical to the one you played last October on the GameCube. So, is this laziness or confidence? Probably a bit of both. Why bother adding fun new stuff exclusive to the Wii version when fans will buy the white-boxed version of the game anyway?
Old Dog, Old Tricks
It works if you're brand new to the series. That way you won't notice that the game
is barely a graphical step up from the GameCube version, and you'll be happily oblivious to the fact that there's an all-new addition to the Sims universe in MySims
just around the corner. You'll find the Wii Remote almost perfectly suited to arranging your new sofa or lifting the toilet seat, and
a much better way of navigating your way through Sim life in general. And, of course, it's perfect for staving off deep vein thrombosis in your arms too, thanks to waving like a loon in front of your telly There is a cool new way of assuming direct control of your Sim by hitting the 1 button and then using the analogue stick on the Nunchuk, almost as if you were playing a regular third person adventure - except you have to get a job and keep your pet mongrel happy in case it savages your slippers and does its business in your bed.
At least all this sameyness means your
Sims' trademark socialising is unchanged. Despite finding it difficult to shake the feeling that it's just an easy cash-in, seeing Sims interact with each other never fails to warm the cockles, and the addition of pets to the game magnifies that warm, fuzzy feeling. Chuck a stick a few yards across your garden or place a scratching post in your front room and revel in the benevolent glow you'll garner from your pet's enthusiastic gratitude - at least until you give them what-for for mauling the morning paper, that is.
And the attention to the smallest detail throughout is up to the series' usual standards. You'll need to buy a smoke alarm, for instance, if you move a new family into a home. Why? Obvious, really - to stop them dying a grizzly death when an attempted flame-grilled dinner goes a bit wrong. Then you can work on improving their cookery skills in relative safety, getting to the point where no one is at risk of melting in a domestic inferno and where a nice bit of steak makes the whole family - pets included - happy.
But it's still hard to recommend Pets on Wii. Here's something to think about - the GameCube version will set you back about half as much as the Wii edition, yet you can still play it through the newer console. Then there's the fact that the original GameCube Pets had one or two issues of its own (like the small neighbourhood sizes, and no multi-storey buildings at all) which haven't been ironed out, which automatically puts its Wii clone in a little bother. In short, hang on to your £40 and wait for MySims - unless your mad-keen on waving at cats and dogs