Although the SNES was largely about platforming games, some construction and management simulations did make it on there. This was one of the best.
SimCity on the SNES
Will Wright came up with the idea and the American co-founded the developer Maxis (now a division of the notorious Electronic Arts—EA).
The original turned up in 1989 and hit the Amiga and Macintosh first, before porting over to the Commodore 64 and IBM PC.
It was a commercial hit and something of a landmark title, helping to bring in adults to play video games at a time when the belief was they were “for kids” (or hopeless losers).
After discussions with Nintendo, a port to the NES was planned, but then abandoned.
The decision to shift it onto the SNES led to better graphics and an all-time great intro scene for the console.
Nintendo’s involvement also significantly improved the gameplay, meaning the SNES version was the definitive port for a while.
And that helped it shift some two million units on the console. Rightfully so, it’s a terrific game! We haven’t played it in decades so it may not have aged well for all we know, but at the time it was addictive and engaging.
It’s a city-builder. You get a patch of land and scale up from there, managing your budget, housing, industries, and attempting to control pollution.
The idea is to create an incredible landscape and a fully functioning urban environment—a tad more difficult than it sounds.
But you can end up with a total metropolis as with below. The reward for this is a Mario statue you can add to the city.
Along the way you have to deal with natural disasters, such as earthquakes, plane crashes, and a Godzilla type monster storming over the city.
That’s actually Bowser in the SNES port, Maxis taking advantage of Nintendo’s involvement there.
We have very fond memories of the gaming, whiling away the hours as kids building up a city and revelling in the moment.
Playing it compared to more modern management titles such as Factorio or Dungeon Keeper and it’s a tad more simplistic.
But that adds to its accessibility in many ways. It’s a pick up and play type experience, one which ISLANDERS mastered rather well in 2019.
So, it’s a good old laugh! Especially if you played it back in the day—it has a relaxed nostalgic oomph to proceedings we love.
SimCity: Past and Present
The series is still trundling away, but has an uncertain future. Interestingly, Nintendo and HAL teamed up for a version on the largely failed 64DD.
It was a Japan-only release as a result, but had some interesting ideas going on.
After the first outing and ports, we got SimCity 2000 in 1993. This shifted the title over to the PC, where it’s best suited.
With the access to more memory and a mouse as a controller, management sims just work better on a desktop computer or laptop. Behold!
Since then, EA’s involvement in the series (as with Dungeon Keeper) seems to have left recent editions crumbling.
The last outings were in 2013 and 2014, respectively, with the former receiving widespread criticism.
It launched packed out with technical issues (quite a common modern issue, as developers desperately try to launch on deadline and then quickly patch up problems).
SimCity: BuildIt followed the year after and is a freemium mobile game. And that means lots of microtransactions, something EA really, really loves.
So, that’s it! Nothing since then. We hope they make another, but there are plenty of modern options to pick from. Cities: Skylines remaining a fine example.
Sim City was one of my favourite games, back in the day – I think I bought every version from 2 to 4, and this back when such games were around $100 each. Simple by modern standards and yet a great deal of fun – I use games for a bit of relaxation, not a way of carrying on with the same thought processes I use for work (ie: writing). I’d still play 4 if it ran properly under current systems. I did pick up Cities:Skylines, but I really couldn’t be bothered with the learning curve. As for the company that bought the Sim City franchise… well, I have a rating system for corporate conduct which adds the letter ‘e’ to the beginning of the word ‘vil’. The number of multiples of ‘e’ denotes the extent to which the corporate openly treats their customers purely as a device for maximising profit. They all do anyway, but it’s the extent to which they are blatant about it that generates the score.
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I was addicted to this SNES one, there’s something strangely relaxing about it. Don’t know if you’ve heard of GOG (Good Old Games). That’s basically a retro gaming version of Steam that makes sure old games run on present systems: https://www.gog.com/game/simcity_4_deluxe_edition.
I got Dungeon Keeper from there again, which is brilliant if you never played that.
Cities: Skylines is pretty good, but the learning curve is very high. Sometimes you just need something simple.
I played this one quite a bit, even if I was too young to actually know what I was doing. Good times.
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Being young and not knowing what you’re doing is the best of times.
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