Review by helmacron

Reviewed: 11/01/99 | Updated: 11/01/99

Not your mother's SimCity!

You've seen SimCity 2000.... and SimCity 3000.... but this is SimTown! It is a much more realistic game than either of the other ones. In SimTown, you actually can see the people moving around town, doing their daily business. You can even click on them to find out their name, their job, and their favorite things.

Part of the challenge of SimTown is to maintain the ratio of businesses to people. Too many people? There won't be enough jobs, and their homes will deteriorate because of lack of funds. Too many businesses? The businesses will deteriorate because there's not enough workers. Still with me? Good.

Another thing that makes the gameplay of SimTown so interesting is the maintaining of resources. You have to make sure the levels of crops, trees, garbage, air pollution, and water are at good amounts. Now... here's where it gets complicated. Dirty air? Your crops will get polluted, and they'll be used up twice as fast. Too much garbage? The water gets dirty, and then trees and crops will grow slower, causing the people to get unhealthy, and their homes to deteriorate, and ultimately fall to the ground, causing garbage pollution. Got it? Good; explain it to me. :)

Adding to the realism of SimTown is the fact that you can even double-click on houses to open them up to see the people inside! You can see them watching TV, reading, cooking, etc. Also, You can customize your town down to the very statues and skateboard ramps around town.

Unlike SimCity, you do not have to have money in order to build things. But you do have to have "credits" (two of which you receive each month) to maintain your resources. There is no "end" to the game; however, it's possible to completely reduce your town to rubble if you're careless.

And yes, natural disasters do occur. Realistic-looking fires will from time to time sweep the town, and if your fire departments are not in tip-top condition, they can bring several buildings to the ground. Earthquakes will do the same thing-- only the damage is more widespread.

One interesting aspect of the game is the fact that you can create your own character and put him/her into your town. Once the character is in your town, he/she will begin writing diary entries that can help you figure out what's right (or wrong) with your town. You can also ask the game to find the character so you can click on it and find out how it's doing.

A newspaper is also available. It will tell you how the town is doing, what's going good, and what needs fixing.

Of course, the name of this game is SimTOWN, and towns are not known for having populations up in the thousands. But as the population meter crawls up into the range of 500 and 600, it can be rather difficult, and even almost impossilbe, to keep the town in perfect condition.

The tunes that play as you manage your town are few... and all three leave much to be desired. Two are jumpy, cute little MIDIs that will make you want to pull your hair out after 15 minutes. The third... well, to put it very delicately... sucks. But, not to worry! The sound effects are fine, and they are enough to keep you entertained if you turn the music off.

Once you get good at building your own town, you can try your hand at "fixer-upper towns". These are towns that have major problems, such as horrible air, no water, and tons of garbage. You have six "months" to fix up the whole town's resources, as well as secure it so the problem won't repeat itself in the future. I can tell you one thing right now... these challenges are no walk in the park.

OK... so you've made a town. It's huge, and in perfect condition. Now what? Well, you can go around clicking on the outsides of buildings. All the building have what's called "hot spots" where you can click, and some nifty little animation will occur. Or... you can manually trigger a fire or earthquake and see how the town holds up. If half the buildings fall down, it's time to rethink your strategy.

On the note of natural disasters, there is another type of disaster in the town that's not so natural. It's called the "eco-villain", and from time to time it will come and steal a few of your resources. They're not that bad, but in fixer-upper towns, they can be a real pain.

With all that being said, I think it's time to step back and take a look at the aspects of the game such as graphics and play control. Here they are, one at a time:

Graphics--Not bad at all. In fact, for a game of this genre, in close-up mode, the graphics kick ass. They are very sharp and detailed. I'd give the graphics a 9.8.

Control--Control is always hard to rate on a computer game. But they are very simple to figure out. The one big problem was the fact that when a person was walking around on an area that you wanted to build on, you couldn't build until they got out of the way. It does seem that there could have been a better way to lie the roads down, because you find yourself often having to "bulldoze" a road square that was laid in the wrong place, and then clear it out. This fills up the garbage mound in terms of natural resources. Controls get a rating of 7.5.

Replayability--You'll find yourself coming back to SimTown a LOT. I have build countless different towns from the ground up, and each one of them turned out to be different. Replayability scores a 7.9.

Music--As mentioned before, the tunes leave much to be desired. WARNING: Large portions of the populations have been known to go into severe conditions because of a lack of pressing the "music off" button. 4.6.

Overall--For the purpose of GameFAQs and the 1 to 10 scale, this game recieves an 8!

Well, there you have it. If you haven't yet, you definitely ought to check out SimTown. You'll be glad you did!

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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