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Video Game / The Urbz

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The Urbz: Sims in the City (or simply known as The Urbz) is a Spin-Off title to the immensely popular people Simulation Game, The Sims.

Set after the events of The Sims: Bustin' Out, the player controls an "Urb" (this game's version of a Sim) who had just moved out from their parent's home to Urbzville. Starting out as a nobody, our main character must explore the 9 different districts spread across the city, befriend its locals, and earn reputation points to climb up the social ladder. In addition to the usual gameplay of fulfilling the Urb's basic needs, the player must complete certain assignments, such as learning mini-game skills, mastering a job, defeating villains, using a Power Social, or otherwise fulfill various tasks from the town citizens to accomplish their goal.

There are two different versions of the game, released on console (Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox) and handheld (Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS).

The plot of the handheld version revolves around the protagonist and the city of Miniopolis, which is threatened by Daddy Bigbucks, who plots to buy out every property, demolish them and rebuild them accurately as part of a plan to create an Egopolis in his image.

The console version of The Urbz provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All Bikers are Hells Angels: Gasoline Row depicts the biker culture, and the residents all look like members of a motorcycle gang. The district tagline is "bad girls and tough guys".
  • All There in the Manual: A lot of the characters' information, such as their likes, dislikes and life mottos are only mentioned on the game's (now defunct) official site. According to the page, the main character's "official" name is Jayde.
    • Likewise the site included a comic for each district focusing on Jayde's attempts to fit in with the locals, or help them out with their problems.
  • Animesque: Neon East is clearly inspired by Japan's Anime culture, and is famous for the sushi bar and the bright neon colours of the residents' hair and clothes.
  • Bit Part Bad Guys: Urbzville has a crime problem, and it's being entirely caused by three unpleasant people. Each of these people will haunt three districts, mugging the locals, terrorizing them for kicks, and go after the player for as long as these thugs are around. They won't stop until a Power Social from the district is used on them, causing them to leave the area alone for good.
  • Butt-Monkey: Urangoo MacBain in the Central Station comic. Not only is he portrayed as an unhygenic cheapskate who won't pay, he ends up dangling from a magnetic crane by his nipple rings. And the cage fighter he's hoping to impress turns out to be a lesbian.
  • Canon Name: The purple-haired main character shown in the game's cover is named Jayde in the official comics. However, since the player can modify their PC at will (including changing their gender), it's unknown if this name applies to every iteration of the PC.
  • Celebrity Endorsement: The Black Eyed Peas provided a few of the game's soundtracks and their 5 members appear as residents of the district Cozmo Street.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: You can spend real-life hours in the clothing store or wardrobe to pick out new outfits, and no in-game time would have elapsed when you're done.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Each district has their own club, where all the residents go at night to party until the sun comes up. They all have furniture that is absolutely fantastic for fulfilling an Urb's needs, and only in these clubs will Darius give the player Power Socials. However, they're all guarded by a Bouncer to make sure uncool people (i.e. a player who doesn't have enough respect) can't gatecrash the place.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: It is impossible to truly die in the Urbz. If an Urb somehow manages to kick the bucket through means such as starvation, fire, or other unfortunate mishaps, they will be immediately revived by Captain Catastrophe. The game does keep track of how many times a player has been revived, however.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: In the comics, Jayde loses her temper with Sharky and body slams her to get her to shut up. Sharky's response? Beg Jayde to be her new best friend.
  • Dress Code: Actually enforced by the game mechanics. All districts have their own unique fashion style, and dressing in one particular area's style of outfit would hinder the player's success in interacting with a resident of a different district. For example, the residents of the Gasoline Row or Central Station district (i.e. bikers/gangsters) dislike people from Diamond Heights (i.e. fancy celebrities) and will often reject a fancy Urb trying to socialize with them, and perform mean actions on anyone wearing such expensive outfits.
  • End of an Age: The last spin-off of the Sims 1 era, released nearly two months after the release of its successor The Sims 2.
  • Expy:
    • String Bean's character design is deliberately based off Dudley Landgraab's design from The Sims: Bustin' Out, which is a prequel to this game. His character's official Bio even mentions that he hates being called "Dudley".
    • Likewise, Venus Moonflower is very similar to Mimi Landgraab (also from Bustin' Out). Both ladies sport orangish-blonde Girlish Pigtails, are bubbly and free-spirited in personality, and loves pink. Their outfits are of a similar style as well.
  • Identical Twin ID Tag: When it comes to the Couture twins; Babbette wears her hair up while Sophie wears hers down. Similarly Babbette sports a pale yellow dress while Sophie's is sparkling and silver. (Of course if you get them on your crew you can change their appearance to better differentiate them.)
  • Life Simulation Game: Just like the original however it's more simplified due to a lack of dating, child-rearing, or aging.
  • Lonely at the Top: Sophie Couture
    Being a supermodel isn't easy. You've no privacy, everyone is taking pictures and you're surrounded by a bunch of FAKES! All I want is a REAL friend.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sophie and Babbette Couture, a pair of blonde twin celebrities from Diamond Heights, are quite obviously based on Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen.
  • No Going Steady: The player can perform romantic interactions with any characters, but can't date anyone or have Woo-Hoo.
  • Oddball in the Series: Contrasts with the main series with its stylistic art design, quicktime events, lack of romance, and characteristics - such as reputation and Celebrity Endorsement - that, while appearing in the semi-final expansion pack for the original - Superstar - wouldn't reappear until The Sims 3.
  • Product Placement: Alongside the Celebrity Endorsement of the Blacked Eyed Peas, there are other sponsors in the from of the 2005 Honda Element appearing as traffic, as well as a Verizon store in Neon East. There is even a tuned Honda Element in Skyline Beach that turns into a massive subwoofer machine when interacted with.
  • Punny Name: Sara Tonin (seratonin, a hormone that induces happiness), Roxanna Hardplace (rock and a hard place), Skidd Mark, Jet Rockitt and many others.
  • The Quincy Punk: One of the villains, Urangoo McBain have a punk styled appearance and is known to be very violent and short-tempered.
  • Quirky Town: Urbzville, a small town divided into 9 districts of differing sub-cultures, each with its own unique style and quirks.
  • Repetitive Name: Loop D. Loop.
  • The Rich Have White Stuff: White is the dominant colour scheme for the glamorous Diamond Heights district and most of the outfits there will have white as their main colour.
  • Skate Heaven Is a Place on Earth: Kicktail Park is THE skating district of Urbzville.
  • True Art Is Angsty: Invoked in The Foundry, a district full of self-proclaimed artists who wear black/dark colours and behave like a stereotypical Emos and Beatniks. As one of them would say:
    Crispin Black: I take young idealistic artists and turn them into young nihilistic artists.
  • Twincest: Due to familial relations not being recognized until The Sims 2 note , twins Sophie and Babbette Couture can perform romantic interactions on each other and even fall in love.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: Like its parent series, the character's clothes, accessory and hairstyle can be customized at any time. In this game, the trope is enforced, as the main character must change into matching district-specific outfits when they visit the place for the first time.
  • Wealth's in a Name: One of the NPCs in Urbzville is named Cash Monet. Unsurprisingly, he is a resident of the glamorous, high-end district of Diamond Heights.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: All the bouncers in the 9 districts look exactly the same, even though they can't possibly the same person.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Hugging is a interaction that can be accessed anytime in all other Sims games once a Sim is friends with another Sim. Here, the option to hug isn't available until the player completes the level 1 job at Neon East.

The handheld version of The Urbz contains the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The handheld version removes a lot of the features of the console version, such as clothes mattering and the importance of districts.
  • Alliterative Name: Crawdad Clem and Bayou Boo.
  • Almighty Janitor: The protagonist literally starts the game as a janitor, but can become one of the most powerful players in the city.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • You don't get kicked out of King Tower until you break into the Law Office and check the desk, so you can spend some time working on your Body stat and earn Rank 3 in "Squeegee Clean", allowing you to earn a considerable amount of money that can go to renting a house in Urbania and 500 Simoleons ready for an early sidequest.
    • Berkely Clodd's shrunken head sidequest always has the aforementioned item on sale during auctions.
    • The DS version allows you to change Rep Groups if you're a high-enough level with them. This can help you get group-exclusive Xizzles. The Moon Base can now be accessed without multiplayer by ordering a Green Meteorite on the Internet.
  • Artistic License – University Admissions: At Sue Pirnova's urging, the protagonist tries to enroll in Miniopolis U in Mission 2, even though classes have already begun so it's way to late to do it via the regular admissions process. The protagonist ends up writing a thesis and delivering a rare plant sample to Maximillian Moore, who happens to be a professor there, and is thus allowed in as part of a research assistant program. The truly weird part is that in order to actually attend classes, the protagonist has to show up and pay for each lesson individually as it happens.
  • Ascended Extra: Phoebe Twiddle was a nameless NPC in Bustin' Out who worked in Nicki Knack's shop.
  • Big Bad: Daddy Bigbucks.
  • Brick Joke: One sidequest has you go out to sea to find the Dancing Nutria island for Roxanne, who wants one of the native titular animals there. Thanks to Ephram in the 19th century, he left Daddy Bigbucks' flag there, deeming it Bigbucks Island, where its unfortunate owner has to serve his sentence there.
  • Chekhov's Gun: One item that you can take in for a trash run is a nuclear rod. You need to save some to power a time machine.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: One character you can meet and become friends with is a ghost named Ephram Earl. After Daddy Bigbucks uses a time machine to claim the land which will become Miniopolis in the past during the 19th century, you use your own time machine to go back to a short while after he claimed the land and give the flag he planted to an alive Ephram, who promises to keep it safe and put it somewhere else.
    • In the DS version's epilogue, another character makes the save, Pepper Pete, Olde Salty's lost long brother. You never actually meet him, only just dress as him to convince Salty from selling his property to Daddy Bigbucks, he was long considered dead. After helping him get his way back to town, he works with your pet in stopping Winkie Weebucks' evil plan.
  • Continuity Nod: The game is a direct followup to the story of the handheld version of The Sims: Bustin' Out, though presented in such a way that you probably wouldn't even tell if you didn't know enough about its predecessor. The game starts with the protagonist atop King Tower, where one can see a statue run through with the wreck of a rocket, a direct consequence of the previous game's Gainax Ending wherein the protagonist was given an implied Human Alien Discovery before boarding the rocket in question only to immediately come crashing back down. None of this is explicitly referenced in this game at all. Some characters also return from the earlier game, though most of them seem to have forgotten the protagonist completely (with a couple notable exceptions). Finally, late in the game the player gains access to a Time Machine which can be used to travel back to Uncle Hayseed's farm, the starting stage from the previous game.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Handheld Urbz is a sequel to the handheld Bustin' Out, which had no central antagonist besides arguably Giuseppi Mezzoalto, a small-time Obviously Evil Blatant Burglar who generally didn't pay the protagonist any more attention than he had to. This time around the main antagonist is Daddy Bigbucks, an absurdly rich magnate who owns most of the city before he even acknowledges the protagonist's existence and yet seeks to gain enough power to be able to charge everyone for so much as stepping on his streets or breathing his air. He knows that the protagonist is the biggest thorn in his side from the beginning and tries to eliminate him or her as an obstacle at every turn, mostly behind the scenes via obstructive Loony Laws, at least until he tries to straight up murder the protagonist in broad daylight and just a few steps away from a large crowd at the end of Mission 3.
    • The DS version of the game takes this further, as the final act of the Splicer Island chapter sees Berkeley Clodd breaking into the gene splicing lab for no apparent reason other than, in his own words, "to stir up some more mischief". This results in the creation of Winky Weekbucks, a Mini-Me of Daddy Bigbucks who proceeds to inexplicably knock Clodd and the protagonist unconscious before heading off to assemble an army of trained nutria he intends to use to try and conquer the city.
  • Easily Forgiven: As a meta example, Giuseppi Mezzoalto tries to murder the protagonist's uncle while robbing his house, and is allegedly connected to other crimes. Though it's heavily implied that the protagonist in this game is the same one from Bustin' Out, no mention of his background is ever made and he's a pivotal heroic character in the narrative. (When the character appears in Sims 2, however, he claims that he was replaced by a robot for this iteration)
  • Fiery Redhead: Crystal, a Streetie with attitude.
  • Foreshadowing: You'd think that Giuseppi, the guy you gave a bugged briefcase would notice that there's a stage microphone duct-taped to it, right? Turns out that he's working for the detective who you had attach the bug to the briefcase.
  • Great Escape: If you raise Detective Dan Mann's friendship level enough, he'll tell you about a prisoner years ago who escaped from the station jail, but no one found out how he did it. You can find the tunnel he dug behind the poster at the station as a shortcut to the bayou.
  • Guide Dang It!: Getting the final group point is an exercise in frustration without a guide. You need to get the opposite group's leader to dislike you, which is hinted at nowhere in the game, and requires you to know their dislikes well enough that you can consistently use them.
  • Have We Met Yet?: Some of Ephram's dialogue implies that he's met you before. While you could meet and talk to him in Bustin' Out, you actually met him when he was alive in the 19th century, thanks to a time machine.
  • Idle Rich: Lottie Cash, who balks at the idea of finally having to get a job.
  • Jive Turkey: One Xizzle called "Jibba Jabba" apparently has this as an option, judging by the reactions of who you say this to. It mostly has very positive reactions.
  • Mundane Fantastic:
    • A few items you can pick up and trade for cash at the police station through the recycling program include aluminium cans, license plates, nuclear rods, three-eyed toads...
    • From Rank 3 onwards in "Squeegee Clean", a pterodactyl will fly by and knock away a squeegee bucket, which takes a few seconds to regenerate.
  • Schmuck Bait: During the questline to attend University lectures, one task is to obtain a thesis. You're meant to study and write a thesis at the Miniopolis Chronicle, but you can optionally talk to Berkely Clodd and ask him if he has an old thesis you can have. He then offers to sell you a thesis someone sold him several years ago. Present that, however, and Maximillian will point out that he read the exact same one years ago and deemed it terrible, causing hundreds of Simoleons to be wasted on a scam.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The arcade machine found in the Urbania club is very clearly designed to look like a DanceDanceRevolution machine.
    • The Motocross Mayhem minigame is essentially a ripoff of Excitebike with a fresh coat of paint.
    • Early in the game, the protagonist comes a cross a hidden holographic recording of Harlan King, who begs him or her to learn from his past mistakes and put an end to Daddy Bigbucks' scheming. The spiel includes the line "Help me [your name], you're my only hope!" These last four words are also used as the title of the first goal on the DS-only Splicer Island chapter.
    • The Red Man in the Bayou and the Soul Music job he offers are a collective The Devil Went Down to Georgia reference.
    • Late in the game, the protagonist gains a Time Machine which makes sounds resembling those of the TARDIS as it takes off.
    • The Splicer Island chapter found in the DS version is a big Jurassic Park parody, with characters even referencing that they've already seen something like this in "the dinosaur movie".
  • Stereotypical Nerd: The Nerdies is a group of nerdy characters who apparently love tabletop gaming and taking classes at college. They are led by Polly Nomial, a redheaded, Nerd Glasses and frumpy clothes wearing college student who loves to study and is almost always at university. She'll react positively to anything related to books, aliens, fantasy, movies, and movies.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Daddy Bigbucks is a kindly, supportive old man in Bustin' Out, but here is a conniving, universally hated Big Bad.
  • Swamps Are Evil: Few characters go to or like the bayou, a "redneck" area of the city full of dangerous giant Venus Flytraps that will eat you alive if you get too close. Subverted as even the "monsters" in the area turn out to not be too bad. There's also a devil, but he turns out to just be a The Devil Went Down to Georgia reference and pays you quite a lot for copying his fiddle play.