Review: The Sims 3DS

Let’s get one thing straight from the start, The Sims 3DS isn’t as good as the ‘proper’ PC based one. It’s not even as good as the fairly impressive console versions either. Instead, it’s a fairly questionable portable conversion; one that will be divisive considering my 9 year old cousin bizarrely quite enjoyed it. If you’ve got access to another system, whether it be console or PC, you should stick with that version of The Sims 3. You’ll feel restricted by this portable offering. If you’ve only got the 3DS though, this could be worth a shot. Depending on how much you trust my young cousin.

Limitation is the order of the day here. There’s a lot to pack into one tiny cartridge and unfortunately far too much of the content that made the PC version so compelling, is missing here.

[drop]Let’s go back to the beginning. You can still design your own character, buy a house, get a job, make friends, all the usual life simulating kind of things. However, when you’re designing a character, you only have the choice of 16 traits rather than the full 60 or so available on the PC. It’s not too bad because at least the main, important ones are here, but it is noticeable to fans of the series. Perhaps as a form of retribution, you do have more variety in terms of aesthetics.


Thanks to the 3DS’s camera, you can use facial recognition to add your face to your sim. It’s not quite as amazing as it sounds as, for one thing, the camera seems to pick up some oddities, never quite getting faces right. Or maybe it just doesn’t like my face? Who knows? Upon finishing creating your sim, you go to create another one as a roommate. Oh wait, but you can’t. Yes, you can only create a household of one sim.

You can, to be fair, attract other Sims to move in with you at a later date, but you can’t set it up like that immediately. Not long after setting up home with another sim, it’ll also become apparent that you can’t have ‘Woohoo’ or children either. Now this is where things start to grate. Restriction due to the technology is fair enough, but without getting too philosophical, isn’t being able to procreate one of the big things associated with life? Exactly.

This unfortunately is where the problems begin. There’s so much lacking. The mood bars for example. Probably the biggest and most important feature of The Sims. The way in which you can see just how your Sim is doing, whether they’re nearing hunger, or if they’re getting tired or need the loo. This hugely important feature is simply gone. All you’re left with now is an icon every now and then that pops up to demand something. It ruins all chance of you being able to plan ahead. Instead of seeing that your Sim is getting near to hunger or near to needing to go to sleep, you have to try to remember how long it’s been since he was last eating or going to sleep, or you’re left at the mercy of the Needs icons. The aspirations and wishes that have been seen before in The Sims 3 are still there and do the job just fine but clearly someone decided that the rest had to go. Bad move EA, bad move.

[drop2]It’s not all like that though, there are occasional moments of inspiration. Once you’ve selected a career, you get asked occasionally how to react to something much like in the ‘proper’ version. It’s very random in how it’ll affect things but at least it feels like you’re making a difference. You can still improve your skill points too in the typical, grindy sort of way that always feels oddly satisfying. Indeed, you’ll certainly want to improve your repair skill considering you can’t hire a repairman in this game. You also can’t hire maids or gardeners making daily chores a bit more like hassle.

The Karma points from the console game are here too and they implement the 3DS technology quite nicely. Tilt the 3DS and you have an earthquake, blow into the mic and butterflies scatter. The aforementioned cousin took great delight in this. I suspect she wants to be an evil megalomaniac one day.

StreetPass also enables you to share your Sims with passing players too, assuming you meet one (I didn’t during my time reviewing). The 3D effect unfortunately is a bit non-existent other than a hint of depth; you certainly won’t be showing this title off to anyone to demonstrate just how amazing the 3DS is. I found it much more comfortable to switch it off which just ruins the point a bit.


  • Still oddly fun to create your own storylines based around your Sim
  • Use of Karma powers is fun
  • It’s the best (and only) life sim on the 3DS


  • No mood bars ruin any chance of dealing with things effectively
  • Graphically poor
  • Facial recognition is dodgy
  • Only 2 areas to explore other than the house
  • Lots of never-ending housework to do
[boxout]So what are you left with? A fairly poor Sims game, if you’re looking at it from the perspective of someone who knows what a good Sims game is actually like. It’s just too restrictive even in terms of simple features that would have been relatively easy to add, such as autosave. It’s bordering on claustrophobic. But then there’s my naive 9 year old cousin who loved it. So maybe I’m just talking nonsense.

I’m not. It’s really not very good.

Score: 3/10



  1. When I was buying my 3DS yesterday it was either this or Asphalt 3D. Glad I went with Asphalt.

  2. So EA tries to cash in on hype, woaw who should have thought. You have to wonder, why they didn’t learn from the Wii, where they did exactly the same.

  3. Is anybody surprised? Every version of the Sims I’ve ever played on anything other than a PC has been a stripped down abomination.

    • I think that Sims Castaway was good for the PSP… But i think of it as “a thing of the series”.

    • The Sims 3 on the 360 and PS3 is very good. I was surprised as I wasn’t expecting much! Managed to sink 60+hrs into it without being annoyed. :)
      But yeah, other than that, console versions of the Sims are a bit iffy.

      • Agreed, Sims 3 on PS3 and 360 (I assume) is brilliant. pretty close to the real thing.

  4. “my 9 year old cousin bizarrely quite enjoyed it”
    I thought that was the market the 3DS is aimed at – Small children. Why would EA spend time on perfecting a game, graphically and so on, when it is just going to be played by small children. They keep their expertise for the fabulous PC games. (My opinion on the DS market)

    Having bought the original DS those few years back, I believe it has just continued to slip into that market. That is why I, and almost everyone I know buys the PSP.

    • I’ve got both a 3DS and a PSP. got a PS3 and 360, too.

      No Wii though. Yet.

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