Heavy Traffic reported.

I have a bit of a fascination with maps, their creation, and by extension the creation of whatever it is that those maps depict. No matter what the scale is, I like worldbuilding. Perhaps it was playing a lot of Dungeons & Dragons that did it.

In fact, it probably was D&D, because for all I admire mapping and city building, I tend to suck when it comes to the likes of SimCity, but I still have fun, and that's what's important.

I've not played the original SimCity, so this should be a good afternoon for me - one that sees city after city succumb to disaster after disaster, and for me, the major of them all, to simply not care and keep on splashing the cash in all the wrong places.

Fun Times

What's immediately noticeable in the DOS version I'm playing (playable on the Internet Archive) is the inclusion of various scenarios that drop you into different cities, time periods, and their various problems, with you being tasked with fixing it all in whatever way you see fit.

For someone who can stare at a blank map for hours and still not put down the first stretch of road, having pre-built cities ready and waiting for you can be an excellent starting point, and it's not just useful for those players either. Players new to the series (or at this point in the series history, the entire concept of city builder games) can go through these scenarios one by one in order to learn more and more about how the game plays.

All the scenarios offer access to the same set of tools and mechanics, but each requires you to focus on something different, such as recovering from flood damage to quashing crime rates. 

I started with the simple challenge of turning Dullsville into something a little more interesting (and for those playing on the Internet Archive, it's at this point that you may want to change the graphics from Ye Olde Theme to more of a classic look, or whatever takes your fancy).

The tools available to you are simple. You can pave roads and lay down train tracks, zone for residential, commercial and industrial areas, power them all with a power station and power lines, dot parks around the place (usually to fill in gaps created by your/my awful road placement) as well as build stadiums and harbours and airports and the like.

If anything goes wrong, just bulldoze it and try again. Everything has a cost, but that's what taxes are for, and you've control over how high they are too. You're the mayor - your citizens will respect the tax increase or they can bugger off.

I thought Dullsville could do with a nice coast road, but unfortunately what the city needed was traffic management in general.

SimCity offers a number of windowed views to give you a better idea of what is going on in your city, which are useful for highlighting the problem areas. You can view everything from land value to crime rate and in this example, the absolute mess that is the Dullsville road network.

I had my work cut out.


It was rather soon after I started redeveloping Dullsville that I was strapped for cash and in a bit of a predicament, and that's not how I like to play city builders. Paying attention to the budget makes SimCity sound like a bit of chore to me, though I can't fault it on its level of detail in this regard - I just prefer my city builders to be infinite money sandboxes where I can create pretty things.

And then destroy them.

I'll give you brownouts...

Further Fun Times

The scenarios presented are usually ways to show off the variety of disasters that are included in SimCity, from fires to floods to natural disasters and more. There is, of course, only one thing that is worth unleashing upon this city from that list (thankfully, as well as occurring naturally, these disasters can be prompted from the menus too) - the unstoppable approach of an angry Not-Godzilla.

Not-Godzilla sadly came only this close to Dullsville, destroying nothing but my dreams of a city in ruins.

Final Word

That's really the story of my experience with city builders - dreams in ruins. It's a sort of love-hate relationship. Creating a great looking city is fantastic, but putting the work in to get it there can be time-consuming, and starting - gah, don't even get me started on starting. Sometimes I simply just can't.

Sometimes I'll get into the mood to build a city, load up Cities Skylines (the current city builder of choice), get grand visions of what I'll aim for, immediately realise the difficulties I'll have in realising that vision, then decide to not even start by the time the map has finished loading.

I am my own worst enemy with city builders. Especially traffic management. Couldn't solve Bern's problems either. Sorry, Switzerland.

SimCity in some form is a must play game - that's easy to see. The original is surprisingly detailed despite its simplicity. I was expecting to have to slog through menus in order to do what I wanted to do, but nothing of the sort happened. Select tool, click the mouse button, select another tool, click the button again.

It wants you to create and makes it easy to do so. Windows may be a little fiddly to navigate sometimes, but it's nothing disastrous. It sounds messy, so don't expect anything in that department, but in terms of content on offer, and not forgetting replayability, SimCity is incredible. You've got to play it - and probably already have.

Fun Facts

Designer Will Wright was tasked with creating levels for Raid on Bungeling Bay, a task he found more interesting than playing those levels as intended. A new genre was born.

SimCity, developed by Maxis, first released in 1989.
Version played: DOS, 1989, via emulation.
Version watched: DOS, 1989 (Insert Coin)