Approximate Release Month: February 1993
Genre: God game/simulation
Developer: Tomcat System
SimEarth: The Living Planet is ambitious, but lacks the kind of grounding that made the previous game in the series so approachable.
It’s easy for anyone to wrap their mind about SimCity. You’ve seen a city, and even if you don’t understand the particulars about urban planning or reasonable taxation you can grok enough to figure out the basics. Put some roads down, build a power plant, place some building zones, boom. Your city is growing.
It’s impossible for SimEarth to be that easy to intuit. Running a city is complicated, sure, but running a planet is much, much more extreme. In the beginner’s scenario, the first goal is to warm up the planet. Okay. The in-game helper tells me I should be using an “N2 Generator” with either a “CO2 Generator” or a “Vaporizer.”
I do that, and the game tells me that everything is hunky-dory and everything is great. So what do I do now? The scope in SimEarth is too big to answer that question without help, and the clunky menu system takes the fun out of any attempt to experiment.
There’s also a random planet option in SimEarth. It starts off with your planet covered in lava, and you have to wait until it cools down. Then you have to wait until it rains and water covers the planet. Then you have to wait for single-celled organisms to pop up. It’s too much waiting! I don’t think there’s anything I can do to speed things up, and the advisor just tells me to wait until living creatures appear. Once bacteria and amoebas start swimming around, the advisor gives me this tip:
That’s great and all, but give me something to do! Any push in the right direction would help! SimEarth: The Living Planet revels in wasting time in the most boring and abstract ways possible. What a disappointment. Stick with SimCity instead.
Next time: Taking a few days off! Next game will be Sonic Blast Man!