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The Sims 3 for iPhone: Bring the Franchise to Your Pocket

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It arrived shortly after midnight on Tuesday, the same day as the release of the desktop version, and I was all over it. “Pumped” would probably be the best way to describe me at 12:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning as my iPhone was syncing with my Mac mini and the Sims 3 ($9.99, iTunes link) was being installed.

I only briefly tested the game last night, but today, I spent many an hour becoming well acquainted with EA’s (s erts) latest offering for Apple’s (s aapl) mobile platform. So much so that I was tempted to run out and buy The Sims 3 right away. In some circles, they call that a “starter drug.”

But does The Sims 3 for iPhone hold up as a game in its own right? After playing for several hours, and looking at all aspects of the stripped-down portable version, I think I can finally answer that question.


The Sims 2 was quite the graphics pig by Mac standards. I remember being able to run it on my black polycarbonate MacBook, but just barely, and it definitely wasn’t a pleasurable experience. Sims 3 for iPhone acknowledges the limits of the platform, but still gives you a look and feel that is true to The Sims franchise.


One of the limitations of the portable version is a significantly reduced character customization engine. People generally look similar, but at the resolution the game is rendered at, it isn’t that big of a deal. You can still get a character to more or less resemble yourself, so long as you’re fairly average-looking.

There are some clipping issues in the game where there shouldn’t be, and the isometric perspective and camera controls sometimes make it annoying to perform certain actions and interact with other Sims. Some graphics (the fish, specifically) are just re-colored to cut corners, which I find a little sloppy in a game of this caliber. By and large, though, graphics issues are minor and not cause for serious complaint.


Music is typically Sims-ish (light, whimsical), but is only really active when you change locations/activities. It fades out pretty quickly, and then you’re left with absolute silence (no sound effects, either). Buying a stereo allows you to play Sim-ish music, and hear that now-familiar nonsense language, but it quickly becomes grating, in my opinion. Sound is definitely not this game’s strongest suit.


Generally, controls work the way you’d expect them to on a touch-sensitive Apple device. You tap things you want to interact with, which brings up a menu of options from which to select. Some menus have sub-menus, and some are can be scrolled through in order to access more options (took me a little while to figure this out). But they’re relatively simple, which is a smart move considering the platform.

Camera controls are also fairly straightforward. Slide your finger around the screen to pan the camera, and use a visual slider on the right-hand side of the display to zoom in and out. To rotate the view, you touch with two fingers and move your fingers clockwise or counter-clockwise accordingly. Pinch-zooming seems like it would’ve been a perfect fit, but it’s possible developers decided against it due to interference with camera rotation.


Mini-game controls leave something to be desired. While cooking, you have to tap on boiling pots to select and raise them, then shake your iPhone to cool down the pot you’re holding. The game is incredibly easy, but such fidgety controls and odd positioning make it a little frustrating at times.


Your main task in The Sims 3 is to keep your Sim happy, hale, and hearty. This goal is a lot easier to achieve than it is in the desktop version, having presumably been tuned down to accommodate the more casual mobile platform of the iPhone and iPod touch.

To give you an idea of how easy it is, by the end of the first weekend (I started my job at City Hall on a Thursday), I was Vice President, romantically involved with my boss, and friends with everyone in town. Shortly after that, I married another woman, and upgraded my house. At no point did my satisfaction meter dip below “Very Happy.”

There are some interesting new elements for veteran players thanks to mini-games like cooking, repairing things and fishing. I’ve described the cooking game above. To repair an object, for example, you have to swap out broken parts for good ones on a circuit board before the timer runs out.


Fishing, for me, is probably one of my favorite aspects of the game. To do it, you buy a Fishing Kit at the hobby shop, visit the lake in the middle of town, and tap on a Fishing Spot action icon. You can catch a few different kinds of fish, all of which carry a different value at the town’s store. I quickly mastered the fishing skill, and it then became a very profitable hobby. Much more profitable than my day job as Vice President, in fact. Fishing bought me an upgraded house, a big-screen TV and a fancy new bed, all in one day.


Depending on what you’re expecting, you might want to pass on The Sims 3 for the iPhone. It starts out as a fun, addictive little game, but it quickly becomes boring and repetitive. And the speed with which you accomplish goals results in little satisfaction when you do well. EA may have wanted to dial down the difficulty to accommodate casual players, but even the most casual of players will find this far too easy, I fear.

That doesn’t mean all hope is lost. It’s still a Sims game, and as such, I’ll probably keep going back to it just to accumulate enough cash to buy all the nicest furniture available. Also, the demo at the initial iPhone 3.0 event and some in-game clues (the Pawn Shop, for instance, which isn’t yet open for business), leads me to believe that EA has much more planned for The Sims 3.0 following the release of 3.0.

For now, save your money for something more important. Like The Sims 3 for Mac.

149 Responses to “The Sims 3 for iPhone: Bring the Franchise to Your Pocket”

  1. Vanila

    What is the last goal?! I completed all the personal goals for every type of sim. Someone please just state what the 73rd goal is and what persona u where when it was discovered, please!

    • twilight

      The goals aren’t completed in any particular order. You complete certain goals based on what personality you are. My last goal that I had to complete was Try Fishing and I’d already made tons of money fishing, it was just a matter of when the goal would pop up for me to complete it. So, it would be kind of hard for someone to list the “last” goal because someone else’s “last” goal could be totally different from yours.

  2. chuychuygoesrawr

    I already have 74 completed wishes, but the last wish is still undiscovered, i played every single personality, man and repeated it with a woman, still no 75th wish, my playing days are already 50.. Can someone please tell us, what is the 75th wish and how to get it discovered? thanks in advance!

  3. chuychuygoesrawr

    I already have 74 completed wishes, but the last wish is still undiscovered, i played every single personality, man and repeated it with a woman, still no 75th wish, my playing days are already 50..

    Can someone please tell us, what is the 75th wish and how to get it discovered?

    thanks in advance!

  4. To unlock all the tasks you have to play the game as different personalities you proberly have missed playing as one of the personalites. You are proberley going to have to go thourgh them all again to find out which you haven’t done.

    • Sims3personal

      Okay go into a couple’s house Like Jake and Maggies, or Marcell and Theresa, or Jack and Jill’s,

      Then romance with ethier sim and the other one will be jealous.

  5. Maleah I get 600 a day on my iPhone but don’t know about different platforms. What was you starting wage if it only goes up to 250? As a criminal my starting wage was 200 a day.

  6. Maleah

    How do you get 600 as a criminal? I got my guy to master criminal, but I only get 250 a day. Is 600 an iphone thing? I’m playing on a Blackberry.

    • twilight

      you don’t have to accept that goal. look at your goals list and if it’s already checked off as completed, you don’t have to accept it again. if you are playing with the same sim over and over again, it will keep giving you the same goals, you need to create another sim with a different personality to get different goals.

  7. Vice president is the top job at the town hall. if you have locked your wish to get the top job when you already have the top job – quit your job and ask for it again you should get give the job as mayor on 250 you can the go to your boss to ask for your raise.

  8. You need to complete all 73 wishes by playing the game with different personalitys (to unlock all wishes) ie play the game as a ‘jack of all trades’ then make a new sim as say a ‘sleaze’.

    • twilight

      right..all goals are completed as you play the game. you have to complete all your personal goals, but by the time you have created many different sims those personal goals may have been met by another one of your sims in regular game play…and if you have used all three spots and still have goals to complete, just delete a sim and create one with a totally opposite personality than what you’re used to playing with and you’ll get different goals.

  9. Simsplayer

    Yes I’m confused do u complete all the random wishes or the personal goals? And do you have to complete all 73 in the game or just the four your sim comes up with for the pawn shop to open?

  10. Simsplayer

    Yes I’m confused do u complete all the random wishes or the personal goals? And do you have to complete all 73 in the game or just the four your sim comes up with ?

  11. to start a romantic relationship, you have to be a friend with the person. if you are best friends, argue or annoy the person until you are just friends, then start flirting:)
    how do you
    1) comlpete all wishes (to unlock the pawn shop)
    2) become president (final promotion in the town hall) if you even can
    3) cheat for money (without the hacking)
    4) have kids
    5) woohoo whilst living with the person, and being married to them


    • Sims3personal

      2) To get to President, I heard that you get Vice President, then you quit then you go back and get a job there and the Presidents job will be open. Well thats what I heard.

      4) You can’t yet.

      5) Okay first you romance with them until you see they feel romantic. Then you go back to romance and scroll until you you find woohoo. pick it.

    • Corzorocker

      I’m trying to start a relationship with her.
      but I’m only “Best Friends” with her, how did you start the relationship? Or how can i start it?
      I’m really confused on that.
      and me too, i can;t wait or it to open :D

    • Jolson42

      You just have to keep trying the romantic options. Keep pestering her with flirts and such; she’ll love you eventually.

      That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

  12. Paige

    It is a good game but I thought it was a little expensive for an app.
    Anyone know if Kia is a guy or girl, cuz my sim keeps flirting with them and now they are woohooing together.

    • Sims3personal

      girl definately

      you can romance with boys and girls no matter what your sims gender is. I got bored, and needed a quick way to make friends so I did that. You know that is a faster way to get friends, and more friends mean bigger promotions, well for presidants any way.

  13. Jolson42

    Gazoobee: Character creation is very simplistic. It’s just gender, hair, clothes (a handful of choices for each type, each with a few colour variations), personality. Personality is made up of an overall type and five smaller traits. Eg, my sim is a shy, genius, neurotic, lazy, greedy maniac. :-)
    There is no building. There are three different houses; you start in the basic one, and pay to upgrade to better ones.

    Miya: You can’t be the president; Vice-President is the top of the politics career ladder.

    Piva: That was mentioned in the review. The smart money says it’ll open when firmware 3.0 launches. My guess is that players will be able to buy new furniture or clothes using their iTunes account.

  14. pinkstarx

    Thanks for your review! I was wondering how it compared to the regular version of the game, but no-one in the iPhone store said much about it. I think I might just get the full version after reading this. Cheers!

  15. Jackson

    Winry, this review is a lot more constructive than your comment.

    The whole point of a review is to educate people so they can see whether a game is for them before they buy it. This isn’t a complaint. It’s an attempt to inform.

    How you get nagging out of this, I don’t know.

  16. Gazoobee

    Good review, but the only parts of the Sims game that ever interested me (and I know I’m not alone in this), is the character creation and the house building. All the rest is tedium.

    Given that, and the fact that lots of people feel that way, could someone with knowledge of this game speak to those parts of it? What kind of clothing and hair options are available for the characters? How do you build a house, or is it even possible in this version?

    These are the kinds of questions I would want answered before I bought it. Not how easy or hard it is to get a robot-raise at the robot-job the character is forced to do.