Retro Monday – “SimCity” (1989)

The return of the sh*ts…

The hackers that hit many games and services like the Playstation Network, Twitch and “League of Legends” and who issued a bomb threat to SOE president John Smedley have struck again. After a supposed breakup of the group and some arrests by the ‘Feds’, they hit “Call of Duty: Ghosts” and “Destiny”.This lead to some people being bounced out of online play, therefore bounced to the main title screen for a “lost Connection to partner service”. It seems like some but not all were affected. To reiterate, DDoS it not ‘hacking’ as the media would like to think it is. No, you data is not as risk. Change your passwords if it makes you feel better. DDoS-ing is just a pain in the arse because it just blocks online services. That’s why I call them shi*ts, (even though I’ve been warned not to delve into the crude because, kiddies). That is what they are, and always will be, because they are a pain the arse and nothing more. Once you flush them you get a great sense of satisfaction. The sooner we flush, the sooner we can play games without getting sh*t involved because that just dirty and it stains.

Title: “SimCity

Developer: Will Wright/Maxis

(Amiga, Macintosh, IBM PC, Commodore 64)

Publisher: Brøderbund

Released: 1985

(Super NES)

Porter: Nintendo EAD

Publisher: Nintendo

Released: 1991

SimCity” is one of the historic stories of something being shunned on its first pass into the light of day but then goes down as one of the greatest in history. Like the Beatles. First created by ‘Sim’ overlord Will Wright in 1985, inspired by game developer map creators. Think “RPG Maker” and the like because tile map building was the easiest and most simple way of making maps back then. Far flung from the modern every pixel is rendered individually way of totally not simple and expensive game development. Anyway, he made the first “SimCity”, then called “Micropolis”, for the Commodore 64 home console. He then went to Brøderbund to get a multi-platform publisher for a release. Brøderbund, as well as others, said no. This has been put down to the game not having the traditional win/lose framework that most games had at the time. This is when Maxis stepped in and said yes and helped develop the game. It was then shown to Brøderbund again in 1988 who this time said yes. Maxis and Brøderbund made a distribution agreement and “SimCity” was finally released in 1989.

It was released on pretty much everything that was out at the time. Just in 1989 it was released for;

  • the Amiga

  • Atari ST

  • Commodore 64

  • Macintosh

  • DOS

The game was as simple as you can get, and remains pretty much unchanged in the modern 2013 remake. Minus the terraforming. As per every SimCity, you are a new mayor/overlord/god/whoever and are tasked with building a new town. You can build residential blocks for people to live, commercial blocks for people to spend money and industry blocks for people to earn money and work. You have to build a power station to bring power to the people and so the blocks actually get built but there are only two choices of power station, coal and nuclear. But, as Maxis president Jeff Braun once said (We’re pushing political agendas.”) the nuclear power station will have a meltdown and destroy most of your town and irradiate what’s left. While your building your town you have to build road and rail systems to move your people about. If you get enough money you can build an airport and a seaport and really get your people moving. You also need to build fire and police stations to help quell the people if they get rowdy. And to keep crime and fires down of course. That is pretty much it. There is no terraforming as the land to totally flat, no water needs and you don’t make of have an education or health system so there are no schools or hospitals. You just keep expanding and build a police and fire stations every now and then. That doesn’t mean you’ll be peaceful though.

There are a series of disasters that can destroy your town. There is flooding, fires, earthquakes, plane crashes, tornadoes, and Godzilla. There are also disasters that you can’t trigger (they just happen) like bomb drops (that’s WWII, not terrorists), ship crashes, UFO invasions, and the previously said meltdowns if you are foolish enough to build a nuclear power station (apparently). The UFO invasion and bomb drops appear only in Scenarios, an added game mode where you are takes to what amounts to puzzling your way to an objective, usually a town size in a set number of years.

It’s fun in its simple but complex mechanics. You have to expand at just the right pace to not bankrupt yourself but not slow enough that the city stagnates. Once you get used to it you can build cites that cover the whole game map. But once you start doing that then there isn’t that much to do. You can just destroy the city with the various disasters but that can’t carry the game buy itself.

That goes for the SNES version a well. This is one of the more modernly peculiar things about this game. There is a Nintendo version, a very good version. This isn’t a third-party developed game. Maxis ended up licensing the game to Nintendo so they could make their own version themselves, because Nintendo was (and still is) cagey about third-party development for the console. In making their own, they put their own stamp on the game. They updated the graphics and added music. One of the more obvious smaller changes was the addition of their licences to the game. For one, Godzilla was changed for Bowser so a giant Bowser rampages over your city. They also added Mario in the form of a statue you can build what you get to a 100,000 population city. There are other special event buildings you can build as well. This was one of the things that Maxis added in the sequels. Another thing that ended up getting added to later games was advisers. The SNES version had an energetic, green haired, very anime styled man called Mr. Wright (after the games creator) who gave advice.

I’ve played the DOS version and the SNES version. The first is one of the originals and the other is an adaptation. And I prefer the adaptation. It feels more rounded and has more generally. But the DOS version is now abandonware so you can download and play it in DOSBox for free. The game code was also released a few years ago under the working title “Micropolis”. The series is still in use by EA you see so they can’t call it “SimCity”. But with the release of the code, the abandonware nature of the game, your free to download the game and tinker with it as much as you like. Maybe someone somewhere can make the next “SimCity” styled game that isn’t “SimCity” because of legal reasons. Some person is better than EA any day these days.

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