Players start off the game creating the basic physical attributes of their character before being welcomed into their first apartment in the game. Players may create up to three different 'Urbs' in the game which means you may have three different characters existing at the same time in the in-game world. The game focuses heavily around 'reputation' points which can be earned by successfully socialising with other urbs and completing special goals. Reputation is required in the game to unlock new apartments (of which there are three in total), unlock access to new districts, socialise more easily and enter the clubs in each district.
As with previous Sims games in The Urbz you must endeavour to keep your character as happy as possible to keep them functioning normally within the world. Your character’s mood is dependent on how fulfilled their different ‘needs’ are and while the main Sims games have eight different needs The Urbz has five: hunger, bladder, hygiene, energy and fun. Hunger is raised by feeding your urb, bladder is raised by making your urb use a toilet, hygiene is raised by directing your urb to take a shower or wash their hands, energy is raised by making your urb sleep and your urb’s fun can be raised by a wide variety of activities, from watching television to dancing. Needs decrease over time so the player must constantly manage them to keep their urb contented.
In addition to raising your urb’s reputation socialising with other urbs also increases their relationship score with those urbs. To socialise with other urbs players must select the urb they wish to socialise with and then select a social move to use The social moves are color-coded in the in-game menu to indicate how likely they are to succeed; green- likely, red- guaranteed to fail, yellow- somewhat likely. Successful social interactions raise your urb’s reputation and relationship score with the other urb, while unsuccessful social interactions reduce it. In many situations once their relationship score is high enough with another urb that urb will teach them a new social move. Urbz can also learn special ‘power socials’ which when used award more relationship score and reputation than usual. Power socials can be learned by visiting the character Darius in any night club during the midnight party. In each district Darius has a different power social to teach the player’s urbs.
Urbs must keep a suitable amount of the fictional in-game currency of simoleons at almost all times. Simoleons are used to buy hairstyles, make-up (females only), facial hair (males only) and clothing for your urbs as well as furnishings, wallpaper and flooring for your urb’s apartments. Money may also be used for other purposes such as gambling, paying fines or buying food. Depending on which district they are in urbs can buy different clothing or items to decorate their apartments. While most changes to urb’s apartments are purely aesthetic wearing the correct style of clothing in the correct district can allow them to socialise better and (providing they have enough reputation) enter the midnight parties. Money can be earned by doing jobs with each job having three different tiers and requiring a specific skill. Higher tier jobs pay more but require urbs to have a higher skill to perform them. The three skills are artistic, physical and mental, each of which are raised by urbs using specific items which they can purchase for their house. When urbs are improving skills players must rapidly press a single button and when urbs and performing jobs players must manage a number of tasks including mini-games which involve quickly responding to button prompts.
Players can review relationship scores, access their inventory, check their goals, view any messages sent to their urb and phone other urbs using an in-game smart-phone called the XAM. There are also villains who appear in each district terrorising citizens which your urb can vanquish from the district providing they can interact with them using the right power social.
There are nine different districts in the game, each reflecting a specific urban sub-culture. Citizens of different districts wear different styles of clothing and prefer to be interacted with using different social moves.
- Skyline Beach- The hip-hop district set across the roofs of several apartment complexes. The job here involves taming ferrets.
- Gasoline Row- The biker district set alongside a road. The job here involves running a chop shop.
- Central Station- The goth district located in an underground train station. The job here involves running a piercing shop.
- Kicktail Park- The skater district. The job here involves entertaining skaters on the half-pipe.
- The Foundry- The artsy district. The job here involves making metallic sculptures.
- Neon East- The Japanese culture district filled with a mix of traditional Japanese architecture and neon lighting. The job here involves serving sushi.
- Cozmo Street- A Black Eyed Peas-themed district where players can meet in-game versions of the Black Eyed Peas members. The job here involves serving drinks.
- Diamond Heights- The upper class district highly embellished in white and gold and spread out across the top floors of a number of skyscrapers. The job here involves modelling.
- South Side Bridge- The gangster district. The job here involves making fireworks.
Graphics and Sound
The Urbz features a distinctly more cartoonish graphical style than most other Sims games, especially in terms of character and furniture design. The Black Eyed Peas created a number of versions of their tracks for the game sung in the fictional gibberish language of Simlish. The main theme of the game is a Simlish version of Let’s Get It Started by Black Eyed Peas.
While Maxis developed the full console versions of The Urbz a handheld version of the game was developed by Griptonite Games. The handheld version bore very little resemblance to the original and was an adventure game in which players tried to thwart the evil Daddy Bigbucks from taking over the entire city and creating a hyper-capitalistic economy where citizens would be charged for even the most basic of things. Unlike the console version the handheld The Urbz included all eight of the original needs from Sims but only included four districts. The four urban sub-cultures within the game were artsies, streeties, nerdies and richies. Players had direct control of their characters. The Game Boy Advance and DS versions were pretty much identical except for three new minigames for the DS. The handheld version ended up being more well received than the console versions.