Review by antseezee

Reviewed: 07/31/03 | Updated: 07/31/03

Managing a city has never been so easy.

Many games usually put the gamer in the role of a character, or numerous members of a party. Some will allow you to command an entire army, while others will simply put you in the role of some action packed super hero. Sim City was one of the first few games that allowed you to take control of building a city, in a much less complex way. While there have been numerous sequels to the original classic, Sim City is still one of the best strategy simulation games you can play on the SNES. The entire gameplay atmosphere is based around you playing the role of a mayor. You must build a well balanced city, that provides residential space, commerce, and an industry to provide jobs to others. Not only that, but you must combat crime with police stations, build fire stations in case of emergencies, and even provide entertainment centers for people. Sim City was the first game that allowed you to do all this, while being able to manage a budget, and face the problems of a typical neighborhood.

Graphics [8/10]
Back in 1991 when it was originally released, Sim City provided refreshing graphics complete with detail and accuracy. The entire game is played from a top perspective, sort of like your typical overview. All of your buildings are small, about an inch wide on screen. Most of the in-game graphics are composed of base sprites involving factories, skyscrapers, stadiums, and residential homes, but on a miniature scale. On the side and top of the screen, you have a toolbar that is organized well with tiny buttons and icons. Each button will perform a certain function. Maps are split into tile based grids, and most of the gameplay involves moving a mouse cursor around to place things where you want them. Sim City makes use of an extremely varied palette, which is a good thing since the color really shows throughout gameplay. As the months advance, you'll notice the ground get more pale during the fall. Eventually, your city will become snow covered in the winter, showing off the impressive graphic detail by Maxis. While none of the actual game effects are impressive, most of the system was designed well to accompany the game. Framerate slowdowns rarely occur, nor do any misleading animations. The organization of the layout, and in-game help messages complete with animated characters makes the game visually more appealing.

Sound/Music [7/10]
Nearly most of the audio clips in Sim City are that of a Nintendo Classic. The music is quite pleasing to the ears, complete with rapidly changing melodies and tones. You'll hear anything ranging from your typical classical songs, to more upbeat titles. As your city continues to grow, the songs will change to keep the gamer not always hearing the same repetitive music. Of course, there are no enticing or epic theme songs that will get you addicted to the game. For the most part, all of the music during gameplay gives the game a more cutesy approach. Sound effects are also very good. Every action that you do has a sound to react to the situation. Demolishing some leftover debris, watching an earthquake devastate your city - all of them have distinguishing sound clips. Even the simple ships in the harbor make a toot of their horn every once in a while. Sim City does a great job of captivating the environment of a city, but at certain times it does get awfully quiet. Seeing thousands of cars ramping through your streets hardly makes a background sound effect or anything.

Gameplay [9/10]
This is by far the best element of Sim City. Maxis unknowingly created one of the best city simulation series out there. Since the gameplay is played from an overview mode, most of your in-game actions also take the same place. As the mayor of your city, you practically do everything from construction to setting tax rates. Using your toolbar, you can select certain options which will have certain effects. There are three types of ''building'' zones that you can place in your city. The types are Residential (houses the people of your city), Commercial (increases commerce, trade, and business transactions), Industrial (provides jobs, production of goods). Basically, in Sim City, you select a zone, and place it anywhere on the map using your cursor. After a zone is established on your map, it eventually will become developed as months pass by in the game. So basically, you set out what parts of your city can be built on, and with what types of buildings. However, in order for anything to be built or function correctly, there needs to be power. Thus, you must build power plants to provide enough power for your entire city.

At first, this sounds simple, but there are numerous factors that interfere along the way. Everything has a price in Sim City. Before you can go out and build thousands of zones, you need money to do so. On most maps, you'll only start out with a small specified amount of money. The only way to regenerate your wasted currency is to increase the tax rate, or take out loans. Of course, you also need police stations, fire stations, parks, and entertainment centers to combat the effects of any normal city. Crime, pollution, traffic jams, and high taxes will all contribute to whether or not the people want you as mayor. If you can't balance the appeasement of the people, and balance your budget, then you will run into trouble quicker than expected.

Sim City combines many elements of strategy games that the SNES lacked. Unlike in-depth simulations where you're forced to control every unit, Sim City makes it easier by allowing you to control general aspects of your city. As your population grows, you will be rewarded with your own house and numerous ''award'' features. While the game is limited to single player, there are a few game modes here and there. You can start on your own randomly generated map, go to a practice map, and even play a scenario. Scenarios are usually based off of real-life cities such as the San Francisco Earthquake. Most of the goals on these maps are time limited, meaning you have to fix the problem quickly and efficiently. Sim City also offers plenty of options to keep track of the progress of your city. You can view previous graphs, histories, and the coverage radii on your stations. Fixing problems such as traffic jams can be solved through a costly mass transit system. This is really one of the more in-depth strategy games for the SNES.

Fun [8/10]
So you're probably wondering why Sim City is such a fun game if you're forced to control so many things? It's very fun because of the possibilities, and lack of linear based gameplay that goes into detail. Most strategy games force you to follow a storyline, or require that you complete this certain objective on a mission. Instead, Sim City exploits the dark side of gamers by challenging themselves to make a huge city that can topple the world. Scenarios provide a unique experience since you have to renovate a city after a world-wide disaster. However, if you build your own city on a random map, just about anything is possible. Expanding your city to accompany over 500,000 is the true goal of the game. Gamers simply can't build complex road systems because of a fear of traffic jams. Doing stupid things will get you voted out of office at the end of the year. Your goal is to build a well balanced city for your citizens, or fail miserably in the process.

Replayability [7/10]
With plenty of gameplay modes, Sim City should provide to be a satisfying gaming experience. The random map generator really improves the aspect of keeping each map different to the gamer. Repetitive gameplay is almost a joke in this game since you can practically customize every street, zone, and stadium to your liking. In fact, you can nearly replicate your own city in your spare time. Plus, Sim City lets you save your games onto the cartridge battery itself. Thus, you don't have to remember any annoying passwords with looping letters. Unfortunately, Sim City is the most basic form of this popular series. Many things aren't featured that are already present in Sim City 2000, or 3000. Zones cannot be customized into squares smaller than 3 x 3. Education is not included in this classic version. Also, many things such as providing water to your cities, or the lack of technology are quite present. But in its simplest form, Sim City is still one of the most replayed strategy games on the SNES.

Difficulty [6/10]
Thankfully, Maxis included four different game speeds to pace the gameplay to any type of player. If you just built several zones, and want to watch them develop, you can increase the speed for a few months. Most of the challenge arises from the lack of money in Sim City. Your average gamer can nearly go bankrupt in the beginning of the game if he/she overspends too quickly. Managing a smart budget, by increasing and decreasing taxes will be the key to success. Decreasing funding for less important departments (like fire stations) will have to be done. However, smart zone placing, and eliminating your city's problems will show how much of a great player you are. The game isn't overwhelmingly challenging; it just comes down to how you can organize and balance the problems in your city.

Final Factor [8/10]
Even several years later, Sim City is still the same entertaining experience it was back in the day. This game was the true inspiration of most simulation games in the future to come, and Maxis did a brilliant job in designing this one. For the time and place it came out, Sim City truly is a Nintendo Classic. For once, players had the feeling of how it felt to be an important administrator in the progress of a town. If you do see this game anywhere, buy it at all costs. It's a must-have game for anyone's collection, even if you're not a diligent strategic fan. A great gameplay system, and decent presentation is why Sim City was a million seller. Let the citizens live on.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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