I am a people watcher. I can entertain myself for hours at a busy airport or the beach or some other crowded public place, just enjoying the funny things that people do, the crazy clothes they wear (did you really look in the mirror before you left today?), and how they interact with each other. Maybe that's why the part of sims games I enjoy the most is when it is all done and I can watch my little characters thrive and live together in their little virtual community. For you sims addicts out there, this is big news: Virtual Villagers 3: The Secret City is now available for your iPhone!

I previously reviewed the iPhone version of Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children, and many of you who enjoyed the enormously popular PC/Mac game know that the iPhone version I played was full of pesky bugs, crashes and other problems. Well, I am happy to report that Last Day of Work has thoroughly tested this new release (the third in the series called Virtual Villagers 3: The Secret City), and it plays flawlessly! It's so nice to play a game you enjoy without having to worry when it is going to crash on you next.

For fans of the popular series, you won't be disappointed with this iPhone version. You'll be able to get your fix of all of the brain-teasing puzzles, spunky characters, worthy achievements, beautiful graphics and more you've come to expect from a Virtual Villagers title. You won't find anything totally new or innovative added to the series. You will mostly find more of the same thing you discovered and loved in the first two installments.

However, there is something to be said for the relaxing, 'kick-back' pure sims action (seems an oxymoron) of any Virtual Villagers game. Like the others, you build an entire civilization from only a handful of inhabitants. The real-time aspect of the game provides a good and bad element to the overall design. On the one hand, it is truly entertaining to leave the game for a day or two and find that life has continued without you. On the other hand, many of the tasks take literally days to complete and at times the pace can seem rather plodding and slow. But that is a common feature of this type of game.

The story begins when a small group of your villagers decide to leave the island to explore, and wind up being forced ashore by a storm on a remote side of the same island where they stumble upon a mysteriously ruined 'Secret City.' So, life begins again. You must drag your villagers around to see who will help you solve puzzles, cure diseases, research technologies, build housing, which ones will reproduce and provide you with more inhabitants, and which ones will help you provide for the sustenance and general welfare of the people.

You can never force a villager to do anything, but dropping them near a puzzle or activity generally achieves the desired result. For example, drop a character near twigs and dry reeds and they will make a fire. Most villagers start out untrained, which is really where the fun comes in. As you 'nudge' them to perform tasks, they gain experience and they end up gaining a long term expertise in those skills.

At the relatively low price of $1.99, Virtual Villagers 3: The Secret City is a bargain for fans of sims games. You will get many hours of enjoyment from this full-featured, long-playing, real time sims experience. Much like the hobbyist who painstakingly lays the tracks for his toy trains, at some point, you'll watch the villagers live their lives in the thriving community you created. The fun is in the building. The joy is in relaxing and observing the results. It's kind of like people-watching . . . only better!