First off, I noticed by other reviews everyone is comparing to the PC version. This will not relate to the PC version because I never played Sims 3 PC. This review is for the DS version.
I got this game on release day, and I like it a lot. The only part I felt fooled on was that there aren't as many items and options for appearance that I thought there would be. However, there are still quite a few things to choose from. So it was enough to keep me satisfied.
Starting the game, there are 3 available save slots. Kinda nice if you share with anyone or want more than 1 game going. It allowed me to play with 1 Sim, however, I can ask others to be a house mate. You set a lifetime achievement goal, a few characteristics about your sim, and then get to choose you house. Choosing a house has 3 options for purchase, you can have it just be land, a unfurnished house, or a furnished house. I chose unfurnished house, but it still came with appliances, a toilet and shower. Like any sim game, you still need to keep your sim in the green, aka happy. You can go places, but there are some buildings you cannot go inside, like work. When you get a job, it travels to your sims work, and you can change what theyre doing there. Like chat with co-workers, suck up to the boss, business as usual, etc. This helps me the most when my social meter is down, i chat the whole day. The downfall to following them to work, is that the fast forwarding thru time, even on the fast meter, is just still too slow. But it will tell you that if you got a house mate and that should keep you busy. I personally have not done that yet. Many places you can travel and go inside, like the gym, library, art gallery, you can also travel to the park, the beach, the cemetery, etc.
All the while of keeping your sim happy you earn these lifetime happiness points. You can use these to buy special lifetime rewards. These are the Lifetime Happiness Rewards. Discount Diner (Free meals eating out), Speedy Cleaner (clean your house twice as fast as before), Complimentary Entertainment (Get into events free of charge), Professional Slacker (Watch TV & slack off at work without your boss caring), Observant (discover traits of others twice as quickly), Office Hero (Talking to Co-Workers will be more effective, they will love you), Opportunistic (Earn greater rewards and bonuses for finishing opportunities), Steel Bladder (Peeing is for sims with lesser wills), Bookshop Bargainer (Huge discount on books), Multi-Tasker (Become better at your job without any additional effort), Attractive (People will like you more), Haggler (Store clerks will throw discounts at your feet), Never Dull (Sims love listening to you talk and will never get bored when you repeat social interactions), Fast Learner (Learn and improve skills faster), Vacationer (Feel free to take the occasional day off, Nobody at work will notice), Dirt Defiant (Personal hygiene concerns rarely trouble the Dirt Defiant), Mid Life Crisis (Pick new traits & a new lifetime wish), Long Distance Friend (Friends never grow distant), Hardly Hungry (Hardly ever feel hungry and thirsty), Extra Creative (Create the finest paintings), Lap of Luxury (With your pockets doubled it's time to enjoy life in the luxury!).
As far as friends, you can call then on the phone to chat or visit with them.
Opportunities will appear occasionally, you will be given an opportunity and a time frame to complete it. If you complete these you typically earn a cash bonus, and sometimes it helps you to get a promotion at work.
You get days off work now, typically. I don't remember having days off when I played older versions of Sims, but it seems nice to get days off.
You get to go fishing, you can catch several different types and sizes of fish, and you have the option to put (most of) them in the fridge, or sell them for some extra cash. You can use them to cook with.
As for cooking, you need to know recipies to make different types of foods. You can buy them at the library by reading a book about them.
Skill books are all available at the library. You can purchase a book case as well but it seems the library has more options. There are several different types of cooking books that way you can learn different recipies, there are different fishing books to learn to catch different types of fish.
You have the option to turn off free will if you like.
Wishes will pop on the bottom right corner. You have the option to accept or deny them. You can keep two at a time. For instance, you may choose to accept a workout routine, upon completion you will receive a bonus of 250 lifetime happiness points. If a new one pops up and you already have 2, you have the option to delete one and add that one in.
I tend to always repair things on my own. Well now its paying off more than before. Repairing you own things gives you more options for example, you will later be given the option to upgrade appliances, upgrade your sinks and tub to self cleaning, upgrade things to be unbreakable. These are great features!
As for building, it gives you the option to build your home but I have not done this yet. So I cant say for sure the ease of it. I can update later how that goes, but the options look the same as previous sims game.
Karma Powers, I've been playing for nearly 30 days (in the game time) and I just realized hey, where are these karma powers they kept talking about? So I got out the manual, and it says you need to find them. When i went most places, I wasn't zoomed in too far. Well, I started zooming in to look for these "strange things" and I have only found 1 so far. The karma powers are all locked, achieving higher Lifetime Happiness points seems to be what unlocks them. However, then you have to find them. You can go into a menu and see which ones are unlocked and it will give a hint as to where to find them. Like I said, I've only found one and it was Super Satisfy. So when I found it, it maxed all my meters to green. It tells me to go back to the place I found it to activate it. But haven't used these too much yet. I may update later with more info on these.
All in all, its definitely the best Sims game that has come out for the hand held. Previous hand held sims games really didn't give you any options and you were pretty mission based. This one is pretty much free stylin'. I love it. I think its a must have for the hand held. And being rated Everyone, there will be no woo-hooing, so the kiddo's can play it with your mind at ease!!! You will be able to kiss another sim but I believe thats as far as it goes.