For years Sims on the PC has been capitalising on a "more is better" philosophy that paved the way for clutches of novelty characters, pets, furniture, clothing, restaurants and careers that have been fed into the series through expansion packs and sequels. But on 3DS the game avoids this Chinese buffet, opting instead to take these features and peel them back until you get a basic impression of what they probably once offered. This is the Scotch egg method of delivering Sims content: It's not big and it's not flashy, but it's portable.
The 3DS version of The Sims 3 is a smaller version of its PC and console counterparts, both literally and figuratively, and it's reasonably faithful to its peers. You design a character, buy a house, get a job, make friends, buy furniture, sell furniture, watch telly, sleep, wake up. You have access to their mood and relationship statuses along with a list of their particular Aspirations on the lower screen, used in the game as a home to all the menus. The same screen gives you a top-down view of your house and doubles as a makeshift point-and-click area, letting you use the stylus to interact with your Sim and their household objects.
Occasionally you'll be given one-off questions that affect your career trajectory. "A band asks fans to send in drawings, do you send in a video?" asks a pop-up window to my character, a now-grown Rebecca Black who's attempting to revive a career in the music industry. Generally speaking it's impossible to guess the correct answer offhand, and in this case clicking Yes is the wrong choice. "The video is embarrassingly bad and gets more than a million hits online. She is now lonelier. Job performance decreased." It's almost too perfect to be true, but those accidental storylines have always been the beauty of the Sims.
Unfortunately most of the features of the original title have been cut down for the sake of the device. On 3DS you can only design one Sim per household, compared to the 8-person families of other platforms, which means mulling about the house is an oddly lonely experience and the only way to interact socially is by associating with the neighbours. While you can invite friends over, the amount of Sims you can contact by phone highlights just how small the world feels now, with the address book limited to friends, police and firefighters, leaving out the maids, gardeners and babysitters of other Sims titles.