The Game: Players start with a blank slate of a land mass, a budget, and their hopes and dreams. The building of a city begins (usually with a power plant of some kind), a delicate attempt to balance residential, commercial, and industrial space, transportation systems, demands from the public, and tax rates. The city will flourish, stagnate, or empty out and completely fail depending upon the player’s mayoral choices. (Nintendo/Maxis, 1991)
Memories: SimCity started out as a computer game, with all that implies – mouse control, keystroke commands, and complexity that shouldn’t be that easy to boil down into console form. This console port for the SNES, published just a few years after the original DOS PC game’s popularity explosion, is more faithful to its source material than anyone had any reasonable chance to expect.
Though a great deal of game time is spent just moving the pointer from one part of the screen to another, SimCity on the SNES presents players with the full range of options they’d have with the PC version. There are even some really neat touches unique to the console version: rather than Godzilla tromping across the landscape during a Monster Disaster (something that had already caused legal saber-rattling between Toho and Maxis in the original PC version), a giant Bowser wrecks the city. The seasons visibly change, with winter turning the landscape around the city to a snowy white. And of course, “Dr. Wright” shows up to offer helpful hints, looking every bit the traditional mad scientist.
The basics of the game are essentially unchanged; as with any other version of SimCity, the key to getting anywhere with your city is to run your city the way SimCity designer Wil Wright would run it. Mass transit is a big part of that, whether it makes sense with the existing outline of your city or not. As open-ended as the game seems, it’s still a game whose win condition reflects the biases of its creator.
SimCity‘s a better port than anyone was probably expecting in this computer-centric title’s jump to the console world – a nice balance of the strengths of the original design and a well-thought-out conversion.