SNES A Day 4: SimCity

simcity_us_box_art

Approximate Release Date: August 23, 1991
Genre: Simulation
Developer: Nintendo/Maxis
Publisher: Nintendo

SimCity for the Super Nintendo was my first SimCity experience. Probably my first simulation game in general.

It’s a great starting point either way, because this PC-to-console port is well done. The original SimCity was basic enough that few changes needed to be made to make the game work in a lower resolution and with a controller. Everything is functional, which sounds rather backhanded but isn’t; it’s clear Nintendo and Maxis spent a lot of time adapting SimCity, even going as far to add an advisor to help players get to speed. And I suspect the game is balanced to be generally easier than the other versions.

But this game screams for a mouse. The D-pad moves the cursor around the screen, but everything is so slow. And as cities get bigger, the concessions made to make this game work on the SNES start to make managing the city feel more like a chore than fun.

And for as rudimentary SimCity might seem compared to later entries in the series, there’s still a lot to juggle. Keeping Residential, Commercial, and Industrial zones and their needs balanced is tough enough, but you need to deal with pollution and crime, too. Traffic problems are what my cities always struggle with, as it’s a challenge to design an effective mass transit system that’s able to scale as the city grows.

SimCity also features a scenario mode, where you’re tasked to deal with one of six historical city’s problems, like an earthquake in San Francisco or a nuclear catastrophe in Boston. SimCity games love to include modes like this, but fixing problems is the worst part of any sim game! I want to design a city and make it look cool, not prevent it from burning down.

The best part about SimCity? When you’re tired of the city you’ve built, you can sic Bowser on it. And a tornado. Then an earthquake. Crash a plane if you want, too. It’s just like kicking your sandcastle down at the beach.

Tomorrow: It’s Mario’s world and we’re all living in it in Super Mario World.

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