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FAQ/Strategy Guide by BSulpher

Version: 4.0 | Updated: 03/06/15


Copyright Maxis 1989, Nintendo 1991
Written By Brian P. Sulpher
E-mail: briansulpher@hotmail.com
Version 4.0
Dates Written: November 18th to November 23rd, 2003

I dedicate this to my parents Carol and David. They gave this to me as my first SNES game, and although I was jealous that my brothers has got Final Fantasy IV and Super Mario World as their first games, I am now proud to say I received this game! I thank you for the foresight involved in that matter, and I hope you will continue to use wise judgement in your video game purchases for me, though those days are pretty much at an end! ;)

Also, for Cougar. I miss you, and I hope you are living it up in the afterlife as you did in this world. You will always be in my memories, and you will never be forgotten.

Also, In memory of Howler and Koonce. You two never had a good start in your lives, but you had a good time when you spent your time at my house. It was oh so unfortunate that you both had your already tragic lives cut short, but I can only hope that I helped make your life a more enjoyable experience. You too will be missed, but not forgotten.

Welcome to the world of Simcity! This is where you become the Mayor of a town that is just beginning to form. You will lead your people well as you make decisions to expand your town. However, whatever you decide to do, remember that you rule the people only because they elected you! If you do a bad job with your town, they elect someone else, and your game will be at an end! So bring new industries to town, build shopping centres, create beautiful residential areas, offer great police/fire coverage, and build attractions to make your people prosper! So, run your town diligently, and reward your citizenry with attractions that will keep them on your good side! GO about designing the town you want, and maybe along the way you will achieve the ultimate goal of every Simcity player, the Megalopolis!

Version History

Version 1.0
-Submitted guide on November 23rd, 2002

Version 1.5
-Submitted guide on April 28th, 2003
-Reformated FAQ
-Added ASCII Art
-Added some building stacking information on airports
-Added some building stacking information on residential donuts

Version 1.6
-Submitted FAQ on October 29th, 2003
-Fixed up the format to make the FAQ easier to navigate and read

Version 1.7
-Submitted FAQ on January 11th, 2004
-Added http://members.lycos.co.uk/snesreviews to sites allowed to use this FAQ

Version 2.0
-Submitted FAQ on November 11th, 2004
-Decided to upgrade the format of this FAQ, making it more user friendly
-Also altered the copyright somewhat, as people have been taking advantage of my work somewhat

Version 2.1
-Submitted guide on March 11th, 2005
-I added in Honestgamers as a site allowed to use my FAQs

Version 2.2
-Submitted guide on January 31st, 2006
-I added in Retronintendo as a site allowed to use my FAQs
-Altered some format in a few areas

Version 2.5
-Submitted guide on June 3rd, 2006
-Changed some info on the Bern and Freeland Scenarios (thanks to Zurd for the contributions)
-Changed some info in the Boston Scenario (thanks to Patrick Jolicoeur for the contribution)

Version 2.6
-Submitted guide on October 12th, 2007
-Corrected an error in the Casino Gift listing (thanks to Roger for the contribution)

Version 3.0
-Submitted guide on January 8th, 2008
-Made some corrections to the Landfill and Casino/Amusement Parks Gifts information (thanks to Mathew Burrows for the e-mail)
-Also made a note about the Airports/Seaports in the Building Methods section (again thanks to Mathew Burrows)

Version 4.0
-Submitted guide on
-This is a mammoth overhaul of an update, and all credit for this update go to the members of the Simcity SNES board at GameFAQs. They did all legwork and data gathering for this, so full marks and credit to them!


This section will go over the controls of the game in the various modes of play.

Game Set-Up Menus

  • D-Pad - Pressing a direction will have the result of the same direction moved by your cursor towards your selection.
  • SELECT - No apparent use.
  • START - Confirms a selection.
  • L Button - No apparent use.
  • R Button - No apparent use.
  • Y Button - No apparent use.
  • X Button - Cancels a selection you have made, which returns you to the previous selection screen.
  • B Button - Confirms a selection.
  • A Button - No apparent use.

Game Controls

  • D-Pad - Moves your cursor in the direction pressed.
  • SELECT - Press once to go to the building menu on the left side of the screen. Press it again to return to the place your cursor was on the building map to begin with.
  • START - Press once to go to the options menu on the top of the screen. Press it again to return to the place your cursor was on the building map to begin with.
  • L Button - No apparent use.
  • R Button - No apparent use.
  • Y Button - When held, it will allow you to zoom around the map quickly.
  • X Button - This will remove the menu and building menus from the screen. Press the Button again to bring the menus back.
  • B Button - This will confirm any selections you make on menus. This will also build something when selected from the building menu as well as use the bulldoze selection.
  • A Button - When held, it will allow you to zoom around the map quickly.

Game Set-Up Menu

This section will list all of the game set-up menus for you, and what each one allows you to do in each one.

Resume Saved City

This takes you into your two saved cities. Choose either one, and start your games from the past up once more.


Welcome to the World of Simcity.

Simcity is a city-building game where you are Mayor. To develop your city, you need to set a budget, listen to the resident's opinions, and solve problems like rising crime rates, traffic jams, or environmental pollution. To begin, let's aim at building a city with a population of 30,000 people.

With these words, you start onto the practice island. It is quite small, but it should help you to learn the game. Try for a Metropolis (100,000 people) on this Island after you get proficient at the game, as it is a fun little challenge to try and accomplish.

Start New City

This will enter you into a screen where you can select a map. You can select anywhere from map 000 to map 999 (1,000 maps!).

The Interactive elements of the Map Selection Screen are as follows:

  • NEXT - Moves your choice to the next map number.
  • OK - Confirms your selection for a map to play.
  • Map No. - This shows what map number you are on.
  • ^ - From left to right these move the map number by 100, 10, and 1.
  • v - From left to right these move the map number by 100, 10, and 1.

Another 1,000 maps are available to you if you select a map, then move to a different number to view that one, and then return to the previous map to see the hidden map on that number.

The best choice for a map of the original 1,000 maps is #061. It contains only 15% water, which means it has the most land available to you to build on!

Select Scenario

Entering here allows you to select from the original six scenarios, and then the two bonus scenarios later when you meet certain requirements with the original six scenarios. See the Scenario Descriptions section for more details on each scenario.

In-Game Menus

This section will look at all the menus that you can access while playing, and how they work to help you.

Game Speed

You have four choices (from left to right):

  • High
  • Medium
  • Slow
  • Sleep

They appear as a moving characters (from running to jogging to walking to sleeping, from left to right). On Sleep, time does move slightly, but it is so PATHETICALLY slow that the time passing may as well be labelled as non-existent.


Auto Bulldoze

Starting setting is ON.

This will allow you to build over top of park, trees, powerlines, and rubble instead of having to manually remove such obstructions.

Auto Budget

Start setting is OFF.

If it is ON, you will not go to see the fiscal statement at the end of every year.

Auto Go To

Start setting is ON.

If it is ON, the traffic helicopter will call your attention to where heavy traffic congestion occurs (a traffic report), or where a Disaster has just occurred/is occurring.

Background Music (or B.G.M.)

Start setting is ON.

This controls the music playing in the game, so turn it OFF if you prefer silence.


You can toggle the following disasters on this menu selection (from left to right, top row, followed by the bottom row):

  • Fire
  • Floods
  • Plane Crash
  • Tornado
  • Earthquake
  • Bowser Attack.



This allows you to view all kinds of stats about your city. There are many stats to be viewed.

  • Comprehensive - Shows map of all Zones, but it can also be used to view a specific type of Zone as well (Residential, Commercial, or Industrial).
  • Power Grid - If you see orange across the board, then all of your Zones have power flowing to them. However, if you see green, then you have at least one unit that is without power, so hook them up ASAP.
  • Road Map - Shows you where your roads and rails run in your city. Roads are shown with bright blue lines, and rails are shown with vibrant yellow lines.
  • Population - This one has two settings:
    • This one shows the population density of your city. It shows which part of your city contains the most heavily concentrated groups, and the least concentrated groups of people. The smallest concentrations get dark green colourings, and this lightens till you hit yellow for medium concentration, and this increases from light orange, to orange, to red for highest concentrations.
    • This one shows the rate of growth for your city. Anywhere that is green is losing people, and anywhere that is yellow, light orange, orange, or red is in a state of growth (with each increase, from left to right in listing, displaying the level of the increase).
  • Traffic Density - This will show you where in your city you have any traffic density. The usual dark green to red scale applies in regards to the severity of traffic congestion.
  • Pollution - This will show you the trouble areas of your city where you have pollution. The usual dark green to red scale applies in regards to the pollution levels.
  • Crime Rate - This will show you the areas where your criminals are committing the most crimes. The usual dark green to red scale applies in regards to the severity of the committed crime numbers.
  • Land Value - This shows you the sections of your city, and how much they are worth. The usual dark green to red scale applies in regards to the level of value for your land.
  • Department Stats - This one has two settings:
    • This one will show you the police coverage you receive for your city from your Police Departments. The usual dark green to red scale applies in regards to the level of increased security provided.
    • This one will show you the fire coverage you receive for your city from your Fire Departments. The usual dark green to red scale applies in regards to the level of increased fire coverage provided.


This will plot the progression of the following stats on one graph for you to compare how they have affected your cities growth: Residential Zones, Commercial Zones, Industrial Zones, Pollution, Land Values, and Crime.

The other two buttons will give you a time period upon which to look: 10 year allows for more recent developments to be viewed for patterns, while the 120 year allows you to view the long term patterns that have developed.


This will allow you to view the following stats: Tax rate (set between 0% and 20%), Transit/Police/Fire Funds (set between 0% and 100%), and the previous years tax collection, special income, and city expenditures.


This entry has two sections:

  • Public Opinion - Allows you to see how many people support your endeavours. It will also list what the population thinks are the worst problems with your city (+20% is considered a HUGE issue for citizens).
  • Statistics - The following will be listed: Population, Net Migration (from the last year), assessed value of city, category of your city (see Urban Classification for more details), game level (easy, medium, hard), and overall city score (starts at 500).


This entry has two sections:

  • This lists the following number of buildings, and the total percentage of the buildings they make up: Residential Zones, Commercial Zones, Industrial Zones, and Other. The total Developed and Undeveloped Zones (Residential, Commercial, and Industrial only) are also listed along with Roads, Rails, and Powerlines in km totals.
  • The second page of this City Overview lists numbers for the following: Schools, Hospitals, Stadiums, Fire Stations, Police Stations, Air Ports, Sea Ports, and Power Plants. You also get each square of the following listed in totals and percentage of map: Park Area, Forest Area, Open Land Area, and Water Area.


Displays any progression of your town to a new Urban Classification, as well as any Disasters that have occurred.


Becomes available once you build the Bank, this allows you to take out a loan, or to check on your loan status of payments.


Becomes available once you reach Capital Urban Classification, this is a scale-model of your city.


  • Load - Allows you to load a previously saved game.
  • Save - Allows you to save the current game.
  • Go To Menu - Allows you to exit to the Game Set-Up Menu (it offers the option of saving first).
  • End - This will take the game to the good night screen (it offers the option of saving first).

Dr. Wright

Go here to read if you have any outstanding problems within your city that need fixing. He will offer some advice for you to follow, so pay attention as he knows this game. However, if you bother him too much, he gets mad, and will turn his back on you (but not permanently).

Magnifying Glass

Use this to view what level of development a Zones has reached. Note that Residential Zones will first develop small houses, which means that all must be filled before a Residential Zone can get a rated form.

Go To Helicopter

Use this to find your helicopter quickly on the map.

Urban Classifications

This section will look at each new classification of town type, and how many people you need for each.


This is what your area begins as. The range you will be a village is 0 to 2,000 people.


You become a Town at 2,000 people. You will remain a town for a while as it covers a population range of 2,000 to 10,000 people.


You become a City once your growing population crosses the 10,000 barrier. You will remain a City for a fair while as the range of population is 10,000 to 50,000 people.


You become a Capital once you hit the large number of 50,000. You will stay as a Capital for a fair time as the population range is 50,000 to 100,000 people.


You become a Metropolis to some booming music, and it occurs at the 100,000 thresh hold. You will remain a Metropolis for a long while as the population range it covers is 100,000 to 500,000 people.


The ultimate goal of every Simcity nut is to achieve this level of Cityhood. Once your place hits one half million (or 500,000), you have arrived. This is the ultimate classification, so feel VERY proud once you reach it has it is a hard feat to accomplish!

Building Units

This section will look at each building menu selection, what it does, how much it costs, the positives, the negatives, and water building capabilities.

Bulldoze Area

EffectThis will remove any objects from the map screen (excepting fire, flood water, and other disasters in progress), with larger Zones requiring the central block to be targeted.
PositivesRemoves any unwanted clutter.
NegativesMight remove a Zone you did not mean to hit.
Water StatsYou cannot bulldoze water.


EffectConnects your Zones to one another to allow access.
PositivesAllows for better buildings, and it is cheaper than Mass Transit.
NegativesCosts money for upkeep, clogs up in high traffic areas (meaning need for more roads), and pollution from cars.
Water StatsDouble the cost to build over water ($20).

Mass Transit

EffectConnects your Zones to one another to allow access.
PositivesAllows for better buildings, no pollution, and no traffic congestion.
NegativesDouble the cost of Roads, and need to pay for upkeep.
Water StatsDouble the cost to build over water ($40).

Power Lines

EffectThese give power to buildings.
Positivesonly need to run through any touching units to extend range.
NegativesThey can cause Shipwrecks in the water.
Water StatsDouble the cost to build over water ($10).


EffectRaises land values.
PositivesHelps get Large Park Gifts, and raises land values.
NegativesTakes up space that might be used for some other use.
Water StatsYou cannot build Park over water.

Residential Zone

EffectCreates a Zone for people to move into your town to live.
PositivesMakes room for more people to live in your town, if it is in a good location they can become high value, they can become schools to help get Library Gifts, they can become Hospitals, and two Zones at an R-4 HIGH rating can form a TOP for maximum population potential in those Zones.
NegativesCan become slums with low Land Value ratings.
Water StatsYou cannot build Residential Zones over water.

Commercial Zone

EffectCreates a Zone for businesses to move into.
PositivesAllows your people a place to shop, and two Zones at a C-5 HIGH ratings can form a TOP for maximum potential of happiness with services in those Zones.
NegativesThey are the least needed of the three Zones, and are least important.
Water StatsYou cannot build Commercial Zones over water.

Industrial Zone

EffectCreates a Zone for industry to move into.
PositivesGives your people a place to work.
NegativesCreates pollution, and need to be somewhat close to Residential Zones.
Water StatsYou cannot build Industrial Zones over water.

Police Department

EffectCauses a small radius of your city to be protected from crime.
PositivesDecreases crime, and can help get Police Headquarter Gifts.
NegativesCost $500 to build, and cost $100 per building in operation to maintain coverage.
Water StatsYou cannot build Police Departments over water.

Fire Department

EffectCauses a small radius of your city to be protected from Fire (when they appear).
PositivesTakes care of fires when they appear, and they help get Fire Headquarters Gifts.
NegativesCost $500 to build, and cost $100 per building in operation to maintain coverage.
Water StatsYou cannot build Fire Departments over water.


EffectProvides entertainment to your residents, and they are required to promote growth.
PositivesThey help get Zoo Gifts.
NegativesHigh initial cost, takes up significant space.
Water StatsYou cannot build Stadiums over water.


EffectPlaces a Ship onto the map, and they are required to promote growth.
PositivesCreates a Ship.
NegativesHigh initial cost, produces pollution, Shipwrecks can occur, and takes up significant space.
Water StatsYou cannot build Seaports over water.

Coal Power Plant

EffectPowers 40 Zones.
PositivesCheaper of the two power sources, and it will not go into meltdown.
NegativesProduces pollution, and it powers only 1/3 the Zones of a Nuclear Plant.
Water StatsYou cannot build Coal Power Plants over water.

Nuclear Power Plant

EffectPowers 120 Zones.
PositivesPowers more Zones, and produces no pollution.
NegativesHigher initial cost, and it can meltdown.
Water StatsYou cannot build Nuclear Power Plants over water.


EffectPlaces a Helicopter and Airplane onto the map, and they are required to promote growth.
PositivesCreates a Helicopter and Airplane.
NegativesVery high initial cost, produces pollution, Airplanes Crashes can occur, and takes up significant space.
Water StatsYou cannot build Airports over water.

Gift Requirements

This section will list every Gift, how many of them you can get, how to get them, and the positive and negative effects of every one. Gifts not only raise land values, they also allow for better zone development. Try to get every Gift that you can get your greedy mayoral hands on!

NOTE: If a Gift Positive section says "Raises Land Values", that means it has no other Positive (as all Gifts raise Land Values!).

Amusement Park

Amount AvailableFive (number shared with Casinos)
  1. Build a total of 30 km of roads.
  2. Build a total of 40 km of roads.
  3. Build a total of 50 km of roads.
  4. Build a total of 6 Schools and Hospitals combined.
  5. Build a total of 10 Schools and Hospitals combined.
PositivesBrings $100/year to the city.


Amount AvailableOne
RequirementsReach a City ranking (10,000 people) and go under $2000 in cash reserves.
PositivesAllows you to take out a loan of $10,000.
NegativesSpending 21 years paying back the loan at $500 per year (you end up paying an extra $500).


Amount AvailableFive (number shared with Amusement Parks)
  1. Build a total of 30 km of roads.
  2. Build a total of 40 km of roads.
  3. Build a total of 50 km of roads.
  4. Build a total of 6 Schools and Hospitals combined.
  5. Build a total of 10 Schools and Hospitals combined.
PositivesBrings $100/year to the city.
NegativesRaises Crime Rates across the City by 1 point.


Amount AvailableOne

Build a Seaport and Airport.

PositivesRaises Land Values.

Fire Headquarters

Amount AvailableThree
  1. Build a total of 6 Fire Departments.
  2. Build a total of 12 Fire Departments.
  3. Build a total of 18 Fire Departments.
PositivesIncreased Fire coverage in the immediate area.
NegativesCost $100/year to maintain.


Amount AvailableOne

Play till January 1950 (50 years).

PositivesBrings $100/year to the city.

Land Fill

Amount AvailableNine
  1. Have 1-149 open spaces left on the map.
  2. Have 1-99 open spaces left on the map.
  3. Have 1-49 open spaces left on the map.
  4. Have 1-29 open spaces left on the map.
  5. Reach 200,000 people.
  6. Reach 250,000 people.
  7. Reach 300,000 people.
  8. Reach 400,000 people.
  9. Reach 450,000 people.
PositivesReclaims up to 3x3 tiles of water.
NegativesRemoves some waterfront.

Large Park

Amount AvailableThree
  1. Build 300 tiles of Park.
  2. Build 600 tiles of Park.
  3. Build 900 tiles of Park.
PositivesBrings $100/year to the city.


Amount AvailableThree
  1. Build 3 Schools.
  2. Build 6 Schools.
  3. Build 9 Schools.
PositivesRaises Land Values.

Mario Statue

Amount AvailableOne
RequirementsReach a Megalopolis (500,000 people)
PositivesRaises Land Values.

Police Headquarters

Amount AvailableThree
  1. Build a total of 6 Police Departments.
  2. Build a total of 12 Police Departments.
  3. Build a total of 18 Police Departments.
PositivesIncreased Police coverage in the immediate area.
NegativesCosts $100/year to maintain.

Train Station

Amount AvailableTwo
  1. Build 50 km of track.
  2. Build 200 km of track.
PositivesRaises Land Values.


Amount AvailableOne
RequirementsReach a Capital (50,000 people)
PositivesShows City as a scaled down model.


Amount AvailableTwo
  1. Develop 150 total Zones.
  2. Develop 500 total Zones.
PositivesRaises Land Values.

Your House

Amount AvailableOne
RequirementsReach a Town (2,000 people)
PositivesRaises Land Values.


Amount AvailableTwo
  1. Reach a Town (2,000 people) and build a Stadium.
  2. Build two additional Stadiums after getting first Zoo.
PositivesBrings $100/year to the city.
NegativesTakes some time to arrive once requirements are met for them.


This section will outline what each disaster does, and how dangerous each one is (on a 1-10 scale), and if they can be purposely triggered.

Airplane Crash

A Plane crashes into whatever might be directly below it when the accident occurs, often setting some of the 3x3 grid it affects on fire.

Danger Rating: 3/10

Bowser Attack

Bowser stomps through anything that gets in his way fires as he seeks those elusive Mario Bros.!

Danger Rating: 7/10


The ground shakes, which can cause wide devastation if it is a big one on the Richter Scale (severity of quake is randomized).

Danger Rating: 9/10


A fire breaks out in any spot on the map without the help of outside disasters influences.

Danger Rating: 2/10


Water floods over the banks of the body of water in undeveloped waterfront property.

Danger Rating: 4/10

Nuclear Meltdown

The fallout will make many surrounding areas unlivable, and the plant becomes a huge fireball.

Danger Rating: 6/10


A funnel appears on the ground, and it rampages through your city leaving a trail of destruction and fires.

Danger Rating: 8/10

U.F.O. Attack

U.F.O.'s fly down over your town, they spray the area with their disrupters, and the result are lots of burning buildings (if they survive the initial attack, they may still be razed to the ground in the ensuing, out of control fires).

Danger Rating: 9/10

Building Methods

This section will give you some strategies to use in your game to help your chances of getting a better town.

  • This is probably the most commonly utilized method of building. I am referring to the "Donut Block" building method. How this works is that you have a 9 X 9 space grid, and knowing that each Residential Zones and Commercial Zones are three spaces wide and high, you can fit nine Zones in this grid. However, since access to a Zone is needed (by road or rail), so instead you should put something inside the "Donut". Rails or roads can touch all 8 of the outer Zones, and the middle space is open to whatever you want to put in there (Police Department, Fire Department, Gifts, Park) since they do not require road access (although Police/Fire Departments do work better with that transit access, they still work without Transit access). If the Land Values are high enough (usually due to a Gift in the centre of the Donut), two Zones may reach their highest rating beside one another, and then they might combine into one unit called a TOP. These TOPS allow for maximum potential of the Zones, so Donuts lend themselves to many TOPS as possible for all of your Gifts.
  • The other popular way to build your City for a high population is to use the "Double Zone Columns" building method. How this one works is that you are building your city infrastructure not in grids of 9 X 9 spaces for Zones, but instead the numbers are 6 (across) X Y value (down to the bottom). This makes for tall, narrow columns that still allow for TOPS to form, and it allows for keeping your Industry separate from the rest of the Zones.
  • Industry is an essential part of your city, but it comes with the heavy downside of pollution. Although it is not possible to rid yourself of all pollution, but you can utilize the side of the map to cause about half of the pollution to just go off the map, and hence not count towards your total pollution levels.
  • Land Fills are unique Gifts that actually add land to your area. They can be used provided that one square of the 3 X 3 space is touching one part of the water. They are best used to make some extra room along the waterline beside a high value property. This means another Zone of the same type can be built there to cause another high value to raise up (since waterfront property has high land values), and then hopefully it would become a TOP with the aforementioned high value property that was
    already established. The other option for Land Fills is to build two of them out in the middle of your river, and then put two Commercial Zones or Residential Zones there. The high land values will make for higher ranking buildings, but be wary that it may be too expensive, and never fully develop (they will also need to have a valid place to go via transit. For more on this, see the Game Mechanics section).
  • Nuclear Power Plants are prone to melting down, rendering an area near your blown up power plant inhabitable. However, remember that on Easy you will NEVER experience a meltdown, so Nuclear power is 100% safe on that game setting, meaning it is the preferred choice. Coal Plants are the (unfortunately) better choice on Normal or Hard.
  • A dangerous method of Zone stacking (this one for non-Residential Zones) is somewhat inaccurate, but viable. You will need to have an Airport and an Airplane in
    the skies. Wait till the Airplane is over a desired Zone you wish to resize, and then purposely crash the Airplane through the Disasters menu (make sure to not hit the direct centre of the zone or it will explode, thus wasting your efforts). Make sure you have great fire coverage so the centre of the Zone will not explode, and then build over the burned out spots, which will allow for more Zones in your map! This is especially useful for Seaports, Airports, and Stadiums as they use up larger areas of land for minimal returns.
    (credit Josh Nelson of jnelson98@cox.net for reminding me of this)
  • Speaking of Airports/Seaports, they do not require any power to function as the necessary building zone for your city to grow ever larger. By not giving them any power, Ships and Airplanes will no longer crash into things, and the zones will not give off any pollution, so it is best to have them where they will not be hooked into the grid. All the benefit, without any of the risk/downsides.

Common Voter Complaints

This section will list some problems presented to you by the voters, and what ways these problems can be dealt with. If you get all of the complaints to less than 20% each, you have succeeded in taking the problems far enough under control to have the voters deem it a good enough situation for their mayor to stay in office.


This is a serious problem the whole game, so try to keep lots of Police Departments spread out over the landscape. Try to use overlapping coverage so three or four stations have their outer most coverage combined with other outer most coverages to form a decent security net.


If this is considered a problem, you need to work on your disaster recovery skills. Be sure to have good fire coverage, and also bulldoze around the fires to contain them (no fuel = no fire). Rebuild, and do a better job on the next set of fires (which will definitely show up no matter what you do to try and avoid it).

Housing Costs

This is caused when your land values are too high, and/or Residential Zones are too far from Commercial Zones and/or Residential Zones. For the land values being too high, try to have a few areas of low land values so the people coming to your town have a choice. The other problem of your Zones being too far apart, be sure that Zones have an appropriate place nearby to travel to. This is a problem you typically actually want to have, as the beneficial side of it outweighs the complaints.


This is a common problem faced by every city ever made. To make this problem lessen in severity (it can not be eliminated completely) here are some solutions: build your Industrial Zones on the edge of the map to cause lots of the pollution to go off the screen (it does not register anymore), use Park where ever you can to raise land values as you lower the pollution (trees and grass reduce the poisons in the air), use as much of a rail system as possible (this causes car emissions to be greatly reduced), and use Nuclear Power Plants instead of Coal Power Plants because they do not pollute (although you risk a meltdown on the Normal or Hard settings).


The game gives a default ranking of 7% to start the game, and it is alright for a starting point. However, when you need money, the people will start
to really complain if you raise it too much. Try to stay around 7% or 8% most of the time so you make a little bit of money from your people, but if you need cash desperately, jack up your rate up to some obscene level near the end of the year (two or three months before, as an example) so you take a little bit extra for the fiscal year.


The ultimate solution to your traffic woes is to just not build Roads at all, instead using Rails. However, that is an expensive venture, so try for a hybrid combination, and be sure to use Rails in the traffic heavy sections of your city (at least until you can afford to replace all Roads with Rail instead).


Try to keep more total Industrial and Commercial Zones than Residential Zones, as more Residential than those two put together is where this complaint comes from.

Game Mechanics

This section will examine how the Game Mechanics work, explaining how the various parts of the game operate, allowing you to exploit them to the greatest of your advantages.

Special Thanks to the GameFAQs Simcity board denizens, who have given freely the information contained within this section!

The 4x4 Land Grid

Everything in this game is divided into calculations performed in 4x4 Zones. Understanding how the unseen divisions in your city work will influence every other Game Mechanic. The grid looks like this, using alternating Parks and regular land features to show the 4x4 Zones, in a checkerboard style.

Keeping this in mind, it will have effects on all the Game Mechanics to follow, as the Zones will calculate their effect, depending on what is in that Zone, and how many 4x4 Zones they touch.

Land Value Mechanics

This is the most important thing to understand and know how to use to your advantage, as the higher the Land Value, the better result in Zone development you will experience. Land value is calculated, taking into account the following factors:

  • Water
  • Forest
  • Park
  • Gifts
  • Center of City


Any 4x4 Zone that contains these tiles, will experience an increase in Land Value, and any 4x4 Zone touching these 4x4 Zones will experience a boost in Land Value as well (as this example shows).


Like the three factors above, the 4x4 Zones that are touching a Gift will experience an increase in Land Value, and the diffusion effect mentioned will also apply. Each Gift is the equivalent of 17 tiles of Park in a 4x4 Zone, meaning that they are very valuable and need to be placed in appropriate spots. How about an example?

As you can see, placing the Gifts in a spot where they touch four different 4x4 Zones makes a HUGE difference in regards to the Land Value provided by their presence.

Center of City

The closer to the City Center you get, the higher the Land value on average. The Land values will shift from where the heaviest concentration of buildings are (ie the "Center"), meaning the Center moves during the lifespan of your City. It will eventually settle to a spot near the middle of the map, as the area fills in to capacity. You can use this to your advantage, as you can shift Land Values around to help develop Zones in an area where the other Land Value factors may not be having as large of an effect.

Residential/Commercial/Industrial Zones Mechanics

Power RequirementsRequiredRequiredRequired
Transit RequirementsSpecial rulesAccessAccess
RCI MeterGrowthGrowthGrowth
Land ValueGrowth AND ClassSize Limit AND ClassIgnored
PollutionGrowth AND ClassClassIgnored
Population DensityNeed to reach Class ratingIgnoredIgnored

Power Requirements

All zones require power in order to grow.

Transit Requirements

Commercial and Industrial Zones require just having access to a Rail or Road to meet their needs to being growing.

Residential Zones require a more involved process to meet their requirements to spur growth. They are as follows:

  1. They will check to see if there is a Rail or Road in contact with the Zone.
  2. They will follow the Transit (it can be Roads and/or Rails, switching between without any penalty) to see if they can reach a valid destination. The paths chosen when looking for a valid destination are made at random, and if it reached a "dead end", it can stop looking at that point.
  3. The valid destination must travel at least one tile from the starting spot to reach a valid destination.
  4. Residential Zones search for transit starting on the top-left tile of the R-Zone, checking the tile north of that, and moves clockwise.

A list of valid destinations for Residential Zones to go for are the following:

  • Commercial Zone
  • Industrial Zone
  • Police Department
  • Fire Department
  • Open Stadium
  • Coal Power Plant
  • Sea Port
  • Airport
  • Gifts

A list of non-valid destinations for Residential Zones to go for are the following:

  • Non-building tiles (Parks, for example)
  • Residential Zones
  • Nuclear Power Plant
  • Domed Stadium

RCI Meter, Land Value, Pollution, and Population Density

Zones grow in two ways: by Class and by Level.

  • Class is a distinction between Low, Mid, Upper, and High. Class has almost no gameplay effect. It is largely used as an indicator of how much Land Value and how little Pollution was in the center tile when it last changed. However, Residential and Commercial Zones can only become a TOP only when two adjacent zones are High. This is the only gameplay effect of class.
  • Level is used to determines the population of a Zone.

Zone Levels go up and down depending on various factors.

  • Residential Zones grow by taking int account Land Values, Pollution, and the RCI Meter.
  • Commercial Zones use Land Value as a limit to their size, and the RCI Meter for growth.
  • Industrial Zones grow purely based on on the RCI Meter.

Residential and Commercial Zones build up in different classes based on Land Value factors, and then subtracting Pollution factors from the score. Use the table to work out what class they will become:

ClassLand Value

NOTE: Industrial Zones pick randomly between Low and High Classes whenever they grow or shrink.

As for Levels, each Zone type is unique in how they grow.

  • Residential Zones - These start growth in the small housing stage, with each house holding 20 citizens. When it has a full allotment of 8 small houses (160 citizens), it can then grow into an R-1 (320), provided conditions are met. Further growth lets it get to R-2, R-3, and R-4 (800). If there are two adjacent R-4 High, then the two might even combine into an RTOP (1920). Residential Zones require a Population Density of 66 or greater in order to reach R-1 size. Outside of that, they have no further limits on the way to R-4 or even RTOP. This density can be achieved by placing other Zones next to it, with Commercial Zones being a good choice in getting it to start.
    The growth formula uses the R of RCI Meter, Land Value, and Pollution. It is possible to beat lacking demands by using a very high Land Value, and areas of low Land Value can still have growing Residential Zones with very high demands. Pollution has a negative effect on growth, and since it also reduces Land Value, this means Pollution is doubly bad for Residential Zones. Keep them away from pollution!
  • Commercial Zones - These go straight to C-1 (160 citizens) without that small housing stage like with Residential Zones. They can grow to C-2 (320), C-3 (480), C-4 (640), and finally C-5 (800). With adjacent C-5 High, it is possible to get a CTOP (1960). The maximum size a Commercial Zone can reach is based purely on Land Value. They need 160 Land Value to reach TOP. Since you need only 150 Land Value to get a High, you'll only fail this requirement if there is enough pollution to reduce the class to Upper (or worse).
    As for growth, it's based on the C of RCI Meter. There also is a hidden Com_Rate map stat that affects it, in chunky 8x8 blocks, but generally, the closer to the city center, the better the Commercial Zone can withstand poor demands. A maxed out C of RCI Meter will always have growing Commercial Zones, no matter what that hidden Com_Rate stat says. Pollution only affects the Commercial Zone class. Since Pollution also affects Land Value, it's a sort of a double punch against the Commercial Zones class. Since lacking Land Value does not affect growth, you can build a C-5 or CTOP, then trash the local Land Value with I-Zones, and the well developed C-Zone will retain its population. Just don't lose power, transportation, or demands, and they'll stay as a CTOP rating permanently.
  • Industrial Zones - These start growing to I-1 (160 citizens), then move to I-2 (320), I-3 (480), and finally max out at I-4 (640). They also produce their full amount of pollution starting at the I-1 Level.
    As for growth, the only thing that affects them is the I of RCI Meter. Since they produce Pollution, Land Value tends to drop to nothing around them, meaning it could not have an effect. The lax requirements mean it is easy to place them and expect their success, though make sure you don't ruin nearby Residential Zones (or still growing Commercial Zones). As for their Class, it is determined randomly every time they grow or shrink, but this only affects their appearance, it has no other effect.

Police and Fire Departments

The Police and Fire Departments will always give some coverage in their respective areas of function, but with each f the following conditions met, the effective coverage provided will double in quality/size of area:

  • Giving the Zone access to the power grid.
  • Touching a rail/road to the Zone.
  • If the Zone is a Fire/Police headquarters (ie a Gift)

There will be times where you may not want them to have a rail/road access (like in the middle of a Donut Block), but meeting each of these requirements means you will have less need to build so many for the Police (Fire is only required with Fire being on map, so you can conceivably get by with only 1 of these in the City, which helps avoid the complaining messages at the bottom of the screen).

Transit (Roads and Rails)

Roads are cheaper, both in up-front costs and maintenance. Rails cost twice as much to both build and to maintain. Citizens do not differentiate between the two types of Transit tiles, meaning that even if you put tiles in an alternating fashion, the Citizens can still travel along the entire length without trouble.

A Road or Rail crossover tile (with the other transit tile type) is functionally identical to a plain Rail tile. A power line crossover allows the road or rail to act like a tile that can take power and stops deterioration. Appearances of these crossovers don't actually matter, but it can look ugly depending on the order you build things. Roads and Rails require yearly maintenance, depending on difficulty. Without 100% funding, there is a chance for each existing tile to deteriorate, but power line crossovers on transit tiles stop this requirement. Road or Rails over the water do not require double maintenance (unlike their cost to build).

Game DifficultyEstimated Maintenance Cost/RoadFormula Maintenance Cost/RoadNotes
  • One Rail is equal to Two Roads.
  • Estimated Maintenance Cost is accurate within 1% of the Formula Maintenance Cost, so it makes for a very accurate estimation tool.


NOTE: After totaling the costs, any fraction of a dollar will be rounded down.

Five types of buildings desire some form of transportation, see the respective entries in this section for what they need/use Transit for.

  • Residential Zones
  • Commercial Zones
  • Industrial Zones
  • Police Departments
  • Fire Departments

Pollution Mechanics

The following are the sources of pollution in the game, and how much of an effect they have on Land Values:

Road traffic (light)10
Road traffic (heavy)25
Industrial Zone (developed)50
Coal Power60
Nuclear Waste250

Each existing tile adds its "value" of pollution to the 2x2 squares they reside in. This is then diffused twice to spread the pollution to surrounding tiles. Each tile of building counts as a separate tile that adds pollution; An Industrial Zone has 9 tiles (each producing pollution), so 200 goes in one 2x2, 100 goes in two 2x2, and 50 goes in one 2x2, as an example. This has a side effect when Zone stacking these buildings, as it actually reduces pollution.

A single tile of nuclear waste sets the temporary value for pollution on the 2x2 square to 250. The game engine won't allow for a value higher than 250.

The Traffic stat itself does not directly contribute to Pollution. It changes the Road tile to reflect the current traffic, and that produces the pollution.

The diffusion for Pollution is to add 1/4 (25%) of the current value to itself, and to adjacent tiles. The diffusion formula is applied twice. This effectively means that 5/16 (31.25%) of the original value is used on the same 2x2 square, 1/8 (12.5%) on the eight surrounding 2x2 squares, and 1/16 (6.25%) on the four 2x2 squares just two spots north, south, east, and west of the original 2x2 squares.

Anything diffused off of the map does not get diffused back onto the map, but this only has the effect of anything on the edge of the map will only pollute its own 2x2 square by 4/16 (25%) of the original value, and anything on a corner will pollute itself by 3/16 (18.75%) of the original value. As far as benefit to nearby zones go, this has no effect, as the only zone that could benefit is the one making the pollution in the first place.

Power Mechanics

The following Zones REQUIRE power to grow, and they will likely shrink without power:

  • Residential Zones
  • Commercial Zones
  • Industrial Zones

The following Zones will function without power, but do so with less effectiveness:

  • Police Departments/Headquarters
  • Fire Departments/Headquarters

NOTE: You still have to pay maintenance for these, even without power connected to them.

The following Zones will still give their benefits, even if they are not powered up:

  • Seaport
  • Airport

NOTE: The vehicles they create on your map will not appear if these Zones are unpowered.

The following Zones require no power to function at 100% capacity:

  • Stadium
  • Coal Power
  • Nuclear Power
  • All Gifts (except for the Police/Fire Headquarters)

NOTE: The power provided by the Power Plant Zones will be added to your total Zones powered in your city, even if they are not connected directly into the grid (only 1 Power Plant must be connected into your city's power grid).

Game Difficulty Mechanics

The amount of cash you start with when beginning a new city is very obvious, as the game will tell you outright how much money you're getting when selecting difficulty ($20,000 - Easy, $10,000 Normal, $5,000 - Hard). However, difficulty also has effects on other aspects of Simcity, making various changes in mechanics.


  • Easy - Almost never
  • Normal - Sometimes
  • Hard - Frequently

Easy has a limited list of naturally occurring Disasters, and those are Plane Crashes and Shipwrecks. Medium and Hard difficulties can have any and all Disasters happen (including the dreaded Nuclear Meltdown!), with Normal having Disasters less frequently than Hard. Exact mechanics on how frequently the Disasters occur on these settings is not 100% understood at present.

NOTE: Scenarios are set to Easy, but they have Disasters that occur at set intervals.


  • Easy - 100%
  • Normal - 85.7%
  • Hard - 57.1%

This Percentage listing indicates how much of your Tax haul the game actually gives you. For example, say you would take in $2800 in taxes for the year, Easy would yield a return of $2800, but on Normal the return is only $2400, while on Hard the total gained is a mere $1600.

As if the reduced money wasn't enough, the game treats your Tax Rate as being higher than it actually is when determining the RCI Meter demands. 7% Taxes on Easy is considered "neutral" to the RCI Meter, so to maintain that on higher difficulties, you would need 6% on Medium, or 5% on Hard. Keeping 7% Taxes on Hard harms your RCI Meter much like 9% taxes on Easy, which is a somewhat bad strain on demands.

Industrial Zone demand adjustments:

  • Easy - x1.2
  • Normal - x1.1
  • Hard - x0.98

Counting Taxes as if they were higher than they really are is bad, but the I part of the RCI Meter is further adjusted in regards to your Game Difficulty setting. Easy and Normal makes things work a bit easier in your favour, while hard suffers a slight decrease.

Tax Mechanics

Taxes are gathered based on the following criteria:

  • A number that is tallied every week (four weeks per month, 48 per year in total) based on the Tax rate that you have set at that time. The number is not visible in-game, it is counted up off screen.
  • Population total (at the end of the year).
  • Average Land Value in your City (at the end of the year).

The total gained from these criteria is then adjusted by the Game Difficulty setting discussed in the Game Difficulty Mechanics section above this one.