Review by TKDBoy1889

Reviewed: 07/30/13

Let's get to building

In the mid 1980's developer Will Wright discovered that making custom maps for one of his games was actually more fun that playing the actual game. Taking that idea and turning it into it's own game, the Simcity series was born, the classic series that encourages creativity and planning as opposed to quick reflexes. The game saw many different ports to different systems due to it's popularity. The SNES one stands out in particular to me. I don't consider it a port, as it is to an extent it's own new version of the game with different features. And in all honesty, I preferred this version over the original computer version. The SNES one just had some things I liked better, and to this day it's still incredibly fun.

The concept of Simcity is pretty straightforward. There are no true goals or objectives. You take a blank map and, as mayor of a new city, build zones and make decisions that will develop the city however you see fit. A typical "game" of Simcity doesn't really have a win/lose scenario nor does it have a set objective. The only way to really lose is to get your city funds in the negative with no way to recover them. And there is no set goal, you build the city the way you way to. That's the big appeal of this game, the freedom it allows and the creativity and that it encourages. Of course. To build a city you basically lay down zones of residential (homes), commercial (stores, businesses, etc.), and industrial (factories), and power them to watch them grow. As the city grows you provide transportation and also have to provide services like police protection and fire coverage, while also laying down recreational zones to provide a nice aura and keep citizens happy. There are graphs to help you see the stats of your city, but Of course, how and what you build is up to you. Typically residents are not happy to be next to pollution-creating industrial factories, but if you want to create a slummy factory city with low land values you can do so. Citizens like police protection, but if you want to save a buck by keeping the city lawless, by all means have at it. In addition to building you also manage the city's funds, which boils down to how much you tax your citizens (Just guess which way they prefer, it's pretty easy), and how much you fund the city services. managing these and good city planning will create an influx of yearly cash coming in.

For people who like the angle of freedom and artistic visions but still like having objectives to overcome, there are the scenarios. These are basically preset cities that come with a problem that affects the city, a goal that is needed to fix it, and typically a time-limit in order to do so. You can help Boston recover from a disastrous nuclear meltdown that's left parts of the city uninhabitable. Help Detroit tackle the immense crime waves overtaking the city. Prepare San Francisco for an upcoming major Earthquake and then rebuild the city. These provide a nice challenge for those who still want objectives to overcome, as they have preset goals and time-limits with which to achieve them. And once you beat all the regular scenarios, you can get two bonus scenarios!

And then there is the flip-side. DISASTERS. While building your city is the goal, disasters can strike to wreck havoc and destroy the lives of your sims. From plane crashes to Bowser stomping through town (not joking here), to fires breaking out, disasters can test how built your city and provide a constant variable of shift. You never know when they could strike. Of course, if you want to, you can activate disasters yourselves and watch the destruction with amusement. I know many people enjoy building cities just to watch them get burned down.

While of course later versions of Simcity added to the depth of the game by expanding the budget system, implementing new services to provide, and giving more structure to build, this older version is still really fun. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the installments that came after it but there are still enough features that let you build the city the way you want to. Want a city more reliant on rails than roads? It's up to you. Prefer a green paradise over an industrial wasteland? The choice is yours.

Why do I prefer the Super Nintendo version of Simcity compared to the computer version? Well, it's mainly a few different features that they added. While there is still no set goal achieving certain population milestones will earn titles for your creation. For example, at 2,000 it becomes a town, and if you manage to reach 500,000 people it becomes known as a megalopolis. And along with these titles, the game gives you special structures as rewards over time. Build enough police stations an you'll get a police HQ that helps cover a bigger area. If you lay down a lot of parks you'll get a big park that will raise land value. Once you have a seaport and airport you can get an expo building to help boost your industry. Get a population of 2,000 people and you are rewarded with your own mayor's house. These additions really give a sense of reward for progression while at the same time never dictating how to build your city, because different rewards come from different methods of city-building. It addition I feel like this version just feels better. The game seems to play better and it's simply more fun. It just has a charm and a feel that makes it feel so much better. And the music definitely helps too, I like the music that was composed for this version.

The only thing I don't like about the game is how incredibly slow it can feel at times. You choose between pause, slow, medium, and fast speeds but I always have fast mode selected unless I need to pause the city time because even fast mode feels pretty sluggish. Many times I have to be careful how fast I build because I can typically spend my entire budget before the yearly income even arrives! I used to have to employ a money cheat because as a kid I was completely unable to slow down my building to let the budget catch up. A definite flaw in the game in my opinion. But once you learn to pace yourself this issue can be worked around... usually.

Overall though, I love this game. I like the design, I like the feel, I like the rewards that come with building a town into a booming city, and I like the artistic freedom that the game employs. I still say it's worth playing, because despite it's age and lack of depth compared to newer titles, it's still incredibly fun to play.

Pros:
- Allows a lot of freedom in design.
- Rewards for making a city big or building it a certain way.
- Scenarios for those who still like having goals and missions to achieve.

Cons:
- Game can feel really slow a lot of the time, even on fast mode.

Final score: 8/10

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: SimCity (US, 08/13/91)

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