EA's The Sims is a cultural phenomenon which has a popularity that is hard to quantify outside of sales figures. It's the video game equivalent of "playing house". You play parents, job seekers, lovers, and probably most importantly, interior designers. With 1.5 million copies of the latest edition, The Sims 3, sold during the weekend of its recent launch, the Sims fervour is very much here to stay.
Part of the appeal, no doubt, is the scope of the game, and scope is not something that tends to translate well to mobile gaming. This hasn't stopped EA from simultaneously releasing Sims 3 on the iPhone, iPod Touch and Java platforms, like Nokia and Sony Ericsson handsets.
Surprisingly, this mobile Sims 3 ports across quite a few of our favourite parts of the PC version. You can customise your house, you can visit the town to shop and socialise, while working to keep your Sims satisfied through bathing, feeding, sleeping and WooHoo-ing (we're sure you don't have to be a Sims fan to figure that one out). On top of holding down a job and improving the interiors of your home, this latest Sims has you aspiring to personal goals, like planting a garden, catching a fish or annoying a neighbour by using their bathroom without permission.
The graphics and music on the iPhone version are absolutely stunning, it's an extremely faithful conversion for those familiar with the desktop version. On Java phones the music remains a plus point, but the sharp, colourful graphics seen on Apple's phone are necessarily blocky and a lot less interesting. The other obvious difference between these mobile versions is in how you control the game. The iPhone's touchscreen controls are fluid and natural, while playing the game using the five-way directional pad on the Sony Ericsson W595 we tested on is functional but awkward. Price also separates these titles; the Java version is available through 3 Mobile's Plant 3 web portal for AU$7, while the iPhone version is AU$12.99 on the Apple App Store.