Home Street review: First look

A surprisingly complex time-gated mobile game

 If you're looking for a Sims-like mobile game, and your phone is too outdated to play The Sims Mobile, I suggest you give Home Street a try. (Nothing personal, by the way. My phone AND tablet are both too outdated for Sims Mobile, and both of them are less than two years old. Sims Mobile's system requirements are a bit ridiculous.)

Home Street's main advantage, to my mind, is that it was built by the same team that built the Sims Social Facebook game. I liked that game a lot, and I was sad when EA shuttered it. (I never did manage to build a dragon...)

Home Street is a free-to-play mobile game for iOS and Android. It is your typical time-gated (a.k.a. "Click and Wait") mobile game, but its complexity and surprising richness elevate it well above the competition. Instead of just designing a garden (like Gardenscapes), or just designing a home (like Design Home), you can design a home, customize your character's appearance, visit friends, join player communities, interact with people in the town at several different venues, complete quests, develop careers, skills, and hobbies, and participate in seasonal and weekly events.

My initial impression is that Home Street is indeed a lot like Sims Social. The menus are a bit bewildering at first, and the mechanics take some getting used to, but I like this level of complexity in a mobile game. I get bored with mobile games easily, so the more it has to offer, the more likely I am to keep playing.

I'll continue to offer updates, tips and tricks, and more in-depth reviewing in the weeks to come. And if you're playing, hit me up! 

How to handle a lot of toddlers in The Sims 4

So many temper tantrums!

 I recently adopted six babies on a whim, and boy has this been a whirlwind. I did it for an Xbox achievement, and I assumed that Sim Child Protective Services would soon arrive to take away all my "extra" babies. But no - my Sims have been able to care for their babies just well enough to avoid having them taken away by Sim CPS. More's the pity.

All of the babies aged up, and I soon found myself with a house full of toddlers. It was a nightmare. Here's what I have learned about toddler care from my experience:

**Avoid the high chair.** It's a trap! You can just hand a toddler food. They don't have to eat in the high chair. It's cute to have them eat in the chair, but if your Sim wanders away (and they will), the toddler will end up stuck in the chair for hours as their needs quickly plummet.

**Hire a nanny. And keep hiring them.** The nanny was well worth the extra money. They manage to swoop in whenever a toddler's needs got too low, and prevent them from starving to death of whatever.

I just wish you could hire a live-in nanny, or one who shows up every day like the house cleaner. Instead, you have to remember to hire a nanny each day.

**The only thing you really need is a toddler bed.** You can get away without a high chair or a toddler potty, but toddlers absolutely need to have enough beds. 

Got any tricks of your own? Let us know!

Sims 4 console team working to add the Gallery

Hurry up please!

 One of the first things I noticed about The Sims 4 on console is that the game launched without access to the Gallery. This was a real shame, because the Gallery allows you to share your creations (both Sims and houses) with the world, browse other people's creations, and serves as an ad hoc save system if you want to put your home or family in "the cloud" for safekeeping.

I personally am incredibly lazy when it comes to building houses. I can barely be bothered with Build Mode on PC, and I definitely don't care to fiddle with it on console. So I was disappointed to discover that I couldn't just download a cool house from the Gallery, but was stuck having to make one of my own. (Heaven forbid!)

Luckily, the Sims 4 console team is on the case. Michael Duke (@SimGuruDuke) recently confirmed on Twitter that the console team is working on it.

No word yet on when the Gallery will launch on console, or how cross-platform it will be. Duke indicated that they are hoping to make the Gallery fully cross-platform, with Xbox, PS4, and PC players all being able to share their creations. But given the tricky politics of cross-platform builds, this may not be possible. Only time will tell.

How to handle a lot of babies in The Sims 4

So much crying!

 This week I decided to go for the most difficult way to get the Sims 4 Xbox achievement for having 8 people in the same house: have two adults adopt five babies.

If you want the achievement, all you have to do is adopt the babies. They cost $1000 each in adoption fees, and there is no "cool-down period" in between adoptions. You can adopt one after the other, and as soon as the final adoption is completed, the achievement will pop. After that, who cares?

Well, I decided to see if I could actually get all five babies to toddlerhood without having them repo'd by the Sim Child Protective Services. So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

The first thing I did was have my Sims call to quit their jobs. This is no time to try and work outside the home. Next, I arranged all of the cradles in a row. This makes it easier to work down the line, and to see who's crying.

As a general rule, it's best to swing through and do the following actions in this order: Feed, Change Diaper, [something social like "Coo" or "Hug"]. Repeat, endlessly.

You'll want to be sure to have your volume on for this challenge, because you need to be able to hear when a baby starts crying. Whenever a baby cries, send a Sim in right away to feed it and change its diaper.

And don't forget, as soon as you hit their birthday, you can have one of your adult Sims interact with the baby to "Age Up." This can save you a few hours of waiting around, and possibly risking a visit from the authorities.

Good luck!

The Sims Mobile compatibility issues

And... I can't play it

 I've been looking forward to The Sims mobile for over a year now. I went to the EA Play event last spring in Los Angeles, although I didn't make it in to the Sims Mobile tent (we bailed on the line after standing there for four hours). But anyway, the hype was real, and I was excited about the prospect of a full Sims game on a mobile platform.

So imagine my disappointment when the game finally launched last week, and I discovered that my Samsung Galaxy Tab A is not compatible with the game! Despite being a relatively new tablet with an up-to-date version of Android, my poor tablet apparently didn't make the cut.

There are several reasons why you might get the Sims Mobile error "Your device is not compatible with this version," including:

It's a big game! Make sure you have at least 500MB free space before trying to download it.
Be sure your Android AND Google Play app are up-to-date. Here's an article on how to check this.
Check your resolution in **Settings -> Display -> Screen Resolution**. You should be running at FHD+ or WQHD+ resolution, not HD+.
Clear the Google Play cache. Go to **Settings -> Apps -> Google Play Store -> Storage** and tap **Clear Data**. Reboot your device, then open Google Play Store and try again.

If all that doesn't work, then it might be time to get a new device. You've been looking for an excuse to upgrade, anyway, haven't you?

What's in the My First Pet Stuff Pack

So many pet stuffs!

 A few SimGurus hopped on Twitter recently to answer fan questions about the upcoming My First Pet stuff pack. First and foremost, the stuff pack will add the following pets:

Hamsters
Rats
African pygmy hedghogs
Bubalus

Okay I don't know what that last one is. "Bubalus" is the genus of water buffalo. Are we getting water buffalo in this stuff pack? Or was that a weird typo? Or a joke I don't get? 

At any rate, producer Graham Nardone also confirmed that this stuff pack will include the "return of a certain highly contagious and deadly disease." Get ready for an outbreak of guinea pig flu!

Rodents won't count against your household slots, so you can have as many as you want. 

In order to get the full benefit of the stuff pack, you will need to have both the Sims 4 base game AND the Cats and Dogs expansion pack. However, if you don't have Cats and Dogs installed, you will still get some benefit. Notably, you can have "the hamster, its habitat, and all of the new gameplay features surrounding it" without the Cats and Dogs expansion pack.

Everything you need to know about the Sims 4 wedding cake

Tying the knot? Read this!

Are you baffled by the whole "wedding cake" situation in The Sims 4? It used to be so straightforward - you bought the cake, deployed the cake, then instructed your Sims to cut the cake. But in The Sims 4, it's a little more complicated.

First and foremost: You have to bake the cake yourself. (Well, one of your Sims has to bake it.)

You might have noticed that in The Sims 4, when you use the phone to plan a wedding, the wedding begins IMMEDIATELY. This means that you will need to be sure you bake the cake before you pick up the phone.

Bake the cake, then click on the finished cake and choose "Add Wedding Topper." This is what turns it into a wedding cake. 

(Note: This is also how you bake a birthday cake. Just choose "Add Birthday Candles" instead.)

Next, put the cake into your Sim's inventory. This is particularly important if you are planning an off-site wedding. Your Sim has to bring the cake with them to the wedding location.

Checking in with my Legacy Challenge

I'm a bit stuck in the "dead zone"

 I'm on the second generation of my Sims 4 Legacy Challenge family on Xbox One, and I'm a bit stuck in the "dead zone." My heir recently aged up to Young Adult, so it's time to find him a mate. But he is also at the bottom of his career ladder, so he has very little free time to go chatting up the lads and ladies at the local bar.

(Actually, as I just typed that, I realized the sensible thing is to have him quit his job. At least until he finds a romantic partner. I'm so glad we had this conversation!)

I'm not really sure what to do with the spare heir. She's so cute, I would hate to lose her, but their house is still on the small side, so she won't be able to stay once the heir gets married and starts having kids. I guess in the mean time I'll have her take a job, so that the house has some kind of income source.

Beckett is doing pretty well with his comedy skill. He has an Excellent rated comedy routine called "Haircut Disasters," which the crowds seem to enjoy. And he's making tentative early steps to woo a girl named Baylee Vitale, who has shockingly red hair and a vintage 70s pants suit.

So far, so good! 

New Sims 4 update brings wider range of skin tones and curly hair

More options for your Sims!

 The Sims 4 has been criticized for lacking skin tone and hair options for black Sims, compared to white and medium-toned Sims. This latest update addresses those concerns, with 10 new skin tones, along with cool and warm undertones which you can add to your Sims.

The update also includes a new curly hair, which is a welcome addition for black Sims who have been stuck with either an afro, a fade, or "I give up, I'm going to pretend she got a weave."

Unfortunately, the new skin tones are not entirely without some technical difficulties, as Kotaku has noted.

Additionally, the patch includes a new anniversary shirt to commemorate the game's 18th anniversary, and a typically hilarious set of patch notes.

Which is the best Sims expansion pack?

What's your favorite?

 I love this article in PC Gamer, breaking down the author's favorite Sims expansion packs. (And can you believe the Sims series turns 18 this year? It's old enough to vote!)

I definitely agree that The Sims 4 City Living expansion is one of the series' bests, if not the best. 

Previous expansions gave us an urban setting, but they were never very satisfying. You couldn't really do anything in the city, and apartments didn't exactly work very well. There were some lounges, sure, but everything closed early, and the city ended up feeling like a ghost town. 

The Sims 4 City Living feature of rotating festivals really does bring the city to life, and there are always lots of people around to mock your attempts at karaoke.

What's your favorite Sims expansion pack of all time?

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