The Sims series started on the PC as a popular and difficult-to-describe strategy game that let you control the lives of little computer people in the houses you built for them, as they loved, grew old, had families, and occasionally used the potty. Seven years, several different game platforms, and numerous editions later, the series has become known for offering zany humor, colorful graphics, a gibberish language that its "sim" characters speak (known as "simlish"), and cheerful music. However, the console versions of the Sims games never quite stacked up to the PC version, mainly because the console games tended to focus on collection-based minigames and unlocking hidden items. Also, they never seemed to capture the autonomous, unpredictable artificial intelligence that powered those happy little sims in the PC versions. However, The Sims 2: Pets for the GameCube ends up being closer to The Sims 2's occasionally unpredictable gameplay than any other console Sims game to date, and it adds in some additional pet-based gameplay, while keeping the console versions' typical collection gameplay in the form of cooking recipes.
If you've ever wanted to put a camouflage hoodie and pink tennis shoes on a Siamese cat, The Sims 2: Pets is your game.
The GameCube version of Pets adds three main types of domestic animals: aquarium fish, cats, and dogs. Fish don't do much more than get fed and provide some amusement when stared at (your sims can collect them from the world and bring them home to toss into the tank), so cats and dogs are really the only interesting pets in the game. You can create canines and felines from a great number of different breeds and can use tons of customization options to choose size, age, different ear types, and fur color patterns. And in the console versions of the game, you can be one of those awful, awful people that dresses up their pets with an entire wardrobe, including hats, sunglasses, neckerchiefs, shirts, and tiny little tennis shoes. That's in addition to your pet's personality, such as whether your pet is friendly or aloof; neat or messy; or quick to learn new tricks or a bit slower on the draw. If those last few sentences got you excited, there's a good chance that The Sims 2: Pets is for you.
That's because pets--dogs and cats, anyway--essentially function like limited people in the game. You can't take direct control of dogs or cats, but you can teach them new skills (pet tricks) by spending virtual hours (which equates to several minutes of real time) of your day until they learn how to sit, shake hands, and roll over; similar to how you can improve your sims' marketability by spending virtual hours repeatedly training at skills like charisma, repair, and cleaning. You can use interactions with them to fulfill your sims' social needs (so yes, you can play as a "crazy cat lady" who associates only with her housecats), just like you can with live-in family members. Unfortunately, the GameCube version of the game, unlike the PC version, doesn't let you send your pets to work to earn money--instead, it offers a single downtown area focused entirely on pets and lets you earn "pet points" to spend on chew toys, doggie treats, and other animal accessories. Spending pet points also unlocks the game's many hidden items and social interactions.
Training a pet to perform tricks sounds interesting, but it seems to be more trouble than it's worth.