Despite the loading-time issues, Castaway lets you recruit monkey butlers. That has to count for something.
If you can tolerate the collection gameplay, which occasionally gets a bit repetitive, the game actually offers a surprisingly varied experience reminiscent of games such as Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, or the Seasons expansion pack for The Sims 2 PC. All of those games were relaxing, leisurely experiences for players of all ages, and they let you interact with a colorful, nonthreatening world to accomplish your goals when you cared to. In Castaway, you'll basically always have at least a few different easy tasks on your plate to accomplish, as well as some slightly longer-term goals for which you'll need to collect a few more resources or make a few more discoveries to complete. Your sims do suffer from their physical needs, but they're generally easy to maintain. Likewise, some of the more advanced crafting recipes require your characters to develop higher skill levels in vocational areas such as body strength and mechanical skills, but these skills develop naturally as you continue to explore, harvest, build, and interact, so they're usually not a burden to deal with.
Castaway also offers a fresh new visual look that features slimmer characters with a more-stylized look. They're not necessarily better than the typically more detailed, more colorful characters from previous games, but they're certainly new, and they still move with the kind of expressive animations you'd expect from a Sims game. The game also offers plenty of brand-new sound samples for the nonsensical "simlish" language the characters speak. Better yet, the game features an all-new musical soundtrack that, unlike previous Sims console games, does not heavily recycle music from the PC versions, but instead uses new tropical-themed songs that are suitably lighthearted and cheerful. That's why it's a shame that the PS2 version of the game suffers from load times that randomly become very long, and that occasionally cause the game to hang indefinitely so that you lose all of your progress.
By offering new graphics, new sounds, new music, and a new way to play The Sims, Castaway offers a lively way to enjoy the series and those little gibberish-speaking characters that have made such a name for themselves--as long as you have enough patience to spend a good chunk of time hunting and gathering.