SimCity

aka: Micropolis, SimCity Supreme, SimCity: The City Simulator
Moby ID: 848

Description official descriptions

SimCity sets you as the mayor of a new municipality, with the responsibility of building and maintaining a place where citizens can move to and work and be happy. The first task is to place essentials such as housing, transport links, schools, factories, and shops. There are 50 types of these, allowing for homes of all standards and different types of businesses. Make sure to consider which sites are effective for which tasks. Some power sources pollute, others don't but are more expensive. Taxes must be raised to ensure an income, and then portions allocated to public services such as policing and roads. Earthquakes, floods, and fires are all emergency situations that must be dealt with to contain any damage.

Successful mayoring will cause the small village to grow into a town, then a city, and finally a metropolis. As the city's size grows so do its needs. Commercial buildings may suddenly find that they need an airport to expand trade, or housing may find itself changing rapidly as vast amounts of people come and leave.

The game also includes 8 pre-defined time-limited scenarios, with specific challenges and targets. The environment varies in each game (especially if you have the Terrain Editor add-on), and this should affect your choices.

Spellings

  • Sim City - Alternate spelling
  • シムシティー - Japanese spelling
  • 模拟城市 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 模擬城市 - Traditional Chinese spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (DOS version)

23 People (16 developers, 7 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 86% (based on 53 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 249 ratings with 8 reviews)

Welcome to beautiful, historic Zomburg.

The Good
Ah, good ol’ SimCity. I remember sinking countless hours of my child years into this game. In fact, I can vividly remember avoiding my friends because they obviously wouldn’t want to sit and watch me play a game about building a city. I remember playing it so much that I stumbled upon a formula for building a successfully huge and hugely successful, if not monotonously designed, city. But I had a much longer attention span for games back then. This is probably because I had a much more limited selection, and had to wait for my parents to fork over the cash for a new one.

In case you don’t know, SimCity is a game about building cities. It’s one of the few console games of its era to have no defined end. You just build and build and build until your map is full. This may take you hours to do, depending on the map you start with. After that happens, well, I guess you could rearrange your lots in an attempt to improve your city or play the scenarios, but you’re more likely to just start a new one. It’s a very simple game that is a lot easier to understand than its successors.

So I built my city, the hapless city of Zomburg, on one of the island maps (532, to be precise) where there would be no escape. As I built up my city, I was marveled by how simple the game, in fact, was. If you took out the city style visuals of the game, it would basically just be a puzzle game. All the buildings and roads of the game are just various sized blocks that you must figure out how best to place them. The game doesn’t tell you that maybe building houses right next to factories would be a bad idea; you just kind of have to figure it out for yourself (or use common sense). It isn’t a particularly difficult game to understand, hell, even my child self was able to figure it out.

The visuals and atmosphere of the game are mostly pleasing. It’s nice to see the seasons change as time goes by, and the music is very calming, even if it does play on a loop, changing only at each city stage. It is sometimes difficult to make out what everything is supposed to be due to the low-resolution visuals. It took me the longest time to figure out that the tiny little things that build on new residential zones are houses.

The Bad
Can you guess what the people of Zomburg chose to complain to me about? No, it isn’t the lack of a bridge leaving town. They instead bothered me incessantly about high housing costs. Well excuuuse me, Zomburg. I’m sorry, but if you want to live in my utopian city, you’ll have to pay for it. What was worse about this was that I had no idea to fix the problem. To fix a high crime rate, you place police department. If you have traffic troubles, you place public transit. So to fix high housing costs I built factories in everyone’s neighbourhood, that’ll learn ‘em.

Well, actually, no it didn’t. Then they started complaining about pollution. There’s just no pleasing these people. It wouldn’t be a problem if I could just place pollution sucking sponges, or cheap housing modules, but I can’t. These are problems with no real visible solution. Some things just happen without any real reason. For example, why are the neighbourhoods located in beautiful downtown Zomburg, right across the street from the park, and down the road from a police station, turning into ghettos? Why is that road going to nowhere in particular crammed with traffic? Why are they asking me for more residential zones when they haven’t used the ones I’ve already given them?

It’s the lack of explanation that is most frustrating. Your assistant, Mr. Wright, isn’t very helpful, either. He often tells you that you have a problem and you need to fix it, but he won’t explain how. Maybe it’s more realistic to have people constantly harassing you to fix the most trivial problems, but I figured this game gave up on realism when it allowed you to have Bowser attack your city.

The Bottom Line
It’s worth noting that I have never played any of the other versions of SimCity, so I don’t know how it stacks up to, say, the DOS version. With that aside, SimCity is still as fun as it always was. I feel it even stands up well against its newer siblings. Its simplicity makes it easy to get into and enjoy. Sure, it can sometimes be frustrating, but you can always unleash your wrath on the city using a variety of disasters. Overall, I find SimCity to be an above-average game, or rather, an OKAY game. I fully recommend it if you own a SNES.

SNES · by Adzuken (836) · 2009

Awesome game

The Good
SimCity has one obvious advantage over other simulations of the time, it is actually possible to play it. Other simulations and wargames of the time had a learning cliff rather than a learning curve (I suspect because the average gamer was a computer professional himself, and game designers weren't exactly shooting for the soccer mom demographic), but SimCity introduced the idea of simple design and easy accessibility. The result is a game with phenomenal mass appeal.

The story behind the game's creation is that designer Will Wright had created a 2D action game with an edit mode, and soon found this edit mode to be more fun than the game itself. He decided to create a whole game dedicated to the concept. It did not see the light of day for years, but when SimCity was finally released it was a great success and launched a whole franchise of other Sim titles.

As the name implies, SimCity is about building and maintaining a city. You have control over all buildings and all public functions, but can only indirectly influence your citizens. The meat of the game is the Create-A-City Mode, where you start from scratch and must build a city up to glory. As is the rule with simulations, there are no specific goals to achieve in SimCity. There is something satisfying about a well-run city humming along that is better than a high-score in Super Mario Brothers. There is also a scenario mode where you start out with a pre-set city and must fix a certain problem like a nuclear meltdown. Of course, if you're a sadist you can start out with a built-up city and wreck everything, turning your citizens' lives into hell with unfair taxes, poor civic functions, and even natural disasters like floods and fires and the ever-popular Godzilla attack.

The graphics were good for its day, and the game has a very nice user interface that surpasses that of Windows 3.1. The sound is minimalistic but effective, and there's even a freeform edit mode.

The Bad
It's annoying how you can't "zone" areas like in the later games (in other words if you have a 2x4 lot you can't build a 3x3 building there), but that's nitpicking.

The Bottom Line
Of course, there's no reason you'd bother trying to emulate it these days, since the formula has been copied verbatim by many prettier games, but SimCity is a great classic with that elusive, sought-after quality: crossover appeal. I'm sure there were lots of parents who refused to let their kids play Doom or Mario but let them play SimCity, content in the knowledge that their children were learning all about how to run a city. (They probably weren't, but the game is still fun.)

DOS · by Maw (833) · 2007

Kickass!

The Good
I loved this game, way back in the days where your pc struggled to even run plain tetris. It was great to have a game that spanned over more than 3 disks ;)

The concept of owning your own city, and managing it, building it, controlling the traffic and the little people. Oh we all aspire to be a God - how cool can ownage be! But yes, enough about my plan to take over the world. This game is very cool. The next up SimCity 2000 got quite complex when compared to this, and when you're young you don't want things to be TOO complex. So I came back to this game often.

You got to build residential, commercial and industrial zones, power and other city necessities. Airports and docks when your city got even bigger! The naughty little monsters, plus tornado's and other natural disasters. Meanwhile learning about taxes and education and health funding etc. I suppose you could call this game education if you wanted :P

The Bad
I think that once you did get the hang of SimCity 2000 it was hard to come back to this game. But in that place and time, this game was excellent. I still sometimes pull it out and play again. Its nice to have a game you can go back to. So I couldnt criticise it too much.

Sounds could do with an improvement. ;)

The Bottom Line
Totally groovy. A great classic that bought Maxis to my attention. The SimCity series as a whole is worth checking out. But you cant neglect this one - its cool!

DOS · by Michelle (176) · 2002

[ View all 8 player reviews ]

Trivia

1001 Video Games

SimCity appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Airport

A strange thing in SimCity: If you query (Q) the RADAR (or is it something else? The moving part, anyways) at the airport, it is reported as industrial, instead of airport

Browser version

To celebrate the release of SimCity 4: Rush Hour, EA Games put a web-based version of this original SimCity game up on their website for play.

As of 2006, the URL is http://simcity.ea.com/play/simcity_classic.php

Cancelled NES port

A NES port was originally announced on the September/October 1990 issue of Nintendo Power magazine. It was playable on the Winter International Consumer Electronics Show 1991, but was quietly cancelled. On December 25, 2018, a ROM of the prototype was uploaded by Video Game History Foundation. Among other things, it featured a completely different soundtrack than the SNES port, although it had the same composer.

Commodore 64 version

The Commodore 64 version is missing various features. Some of the things missing are fire and police stations, the eval stat screen, stadiums, and meltdowns.

Copy Protection

In the original DOS release of SimCity, the copy protection was handled a bit different than most games.

The game gave you 3 square symbols, and then asked you to enter a City and Population. The copy protection itself was printed on dark red papers (therefore uncopyable).

Cover art

The change in box designs (see cover scans) was due to trademark infringement- the use of Godzilla on the cover wasn't appreciated by Toho Studios.

Development

The first version of the game was finished in 1985, but publishers at the time refused to release it because it was a non-standard game without a clear goal. So Will Wright and Jeff Braun had to found their own company, Maxis, to get it out. In hindsight, the publishers were terribly wrong and the game became a huge success.

Disasters

Some of the game's "random disasters" aren't really random at all. For instance, if you demolish a church a tornado will strike your city...every time! According to Johnny L Wilson's SimCity Planning Commission Handbook, this connection was implemented in order to discourage "impious" players from bulldozing churches due to perceived (not actual) effects on these public buildings' effects on the tax base. The connection only exists in the IBM version and is inspired by the phrase "acts of God" used in the insurance industry to describe property damage-causing natural disasters..

Inspiration

  • SimCity was inspired by the work Jay Forrester did at MIT. Using a specialized programming language called DYNAMO, he modeled various statistics about the world to determine how to create high quality of life. He also wrote a program to assist in urban planning.
  • Another inspiration for SimCity was Will Wright's first game, Raid on Bungeling Bay. He was having much more fun building levels than playing them, so he decided to create a game out of it.
  • According to the SimCity Planning Commission Handbook, a big influence on Will Wright in formulating the concept of this game (or "software toy") was an anthology of short stories by Stanislaw Lem entitled The Cyberiad -- especially one in which master inventor Trurl builds deposed tyrant Excelsius a "kingdom in a box" in which to harmlessly exercise his tyrannical urges. (Eventually, the people in the box manage to overthrow Excelsius.)

Languages

The Japanese PC-98 port can be switched to English in the configuration screen.

Monster

In the PC releases of SimCity, the monster that can destroy your city in a large red lizard. In the SNES release, the monster is Bowser, from the Mario games!

One Laptop

In 2007 it was announced that SimCity will be one of the games included with the One Laptop Per Child Program's $100 laptops.

Source code release

The original game's source was released under a GPL license in January 2008. The game's name was changed to Micropolis because Electronic Arts holds the license, and plane crashes have been removed because of the 9/11 incident.

Super Smash Bros.

Dr. Wright from the SNES version appears as an assist trophy in the Wii game Super Smash Bros.: Brawl.

Awards

  • ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment)
    • March 1991 (issue #42) - Included in the list Greatest Games of all Time in category Simulations (editorial staff choice)
  • Computer Gaming World
    • October 1991 (Issue #87) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • October 1989 (Issue #64) – Game of the Year
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #6 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
    • March 2001 (Issue #200) - #2 in the "Top Ten Games of All Time" list (Readers' vote)
    • March 2001 (Issue #200) - #5 in the "Top Ten Games of All Time" list (Editors' vote)
  • Game Informer
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #31 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #33 Top Game of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #5 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1990 - #2 Best Game Idea in 1989
  • Retro Gamer
    • September 2004 (Issue #8) – #98 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
  • ST Format
    • Issue 01/1991 – #3 Best Simulator Game in 1990 (Atari ST)
    • Issue 01/1993 – #28 in '50 finest Atari ST games of all time' list

Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Andrew Grasmeder, Brolin Empey, Chris Martin, Maw, Mu77etOfDeath, PCGamer77, Pseudo_Intellectual, Ricky Derocher, Sciere, WildKard and Zack Green

Related Games

SimCity Societies
Released 2007 on Windows
SimCity 3000
Released 1999 on Windows, Macintosh
SimCity 2000
Released 1993 on DOS, 1994 on Windows 3.x, Windows...
SimCity 4
Released 2003 on Windows, Macintosh
SimCity 3000 Unlimited
Released 2000 on Windows, Linux
SimCity 4: Rush Hour
Released 2003 on Windows, 2004 on Macintosh
The Bus
Released 2021 on Windows
Startopia
Released 2001 on Windows
SimCity Classic
Released 1992 on Windows 3.x, 1993 on DOS, 1995 on Windows

Related Sites +

Identifiers +

Contribute

Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Brian Hirt.

Commodore 64 added by PCGamer77. SNES added by Kartanym. FM Towns added by Sciere. CDTV, Electron, Amstrad CPC, Symbian, OS/2, Amiga added by Kabushi. ZX Spectrum, Atari ST added by Martin Smith. Wii added by gamewarrior. Sharp X68000, Macintosh, Acorn 32-bit added by Terok Nor. Palm OS added by Игги Друге. BBC Micro added by formercontrib. PC-98 added by Unicorn Lynx.

Additional contributors: Robert Morgan, Unicorn Lynx, Sciere, Martin Smith, Pseudo_Intellectual, Игги Друге, formercontrib, Trypticon, Patrick Bregger, Lugamo, Jo ST, FatherJack, Kayburt.

Game added February 10th, 2000. Last modified November 28th, 2023.