The original SimCity was a game I played a lot of, even though I found it tough. I don’t do so well at games where I have to manage a lot of different things at once, preferring instead to have a single well-defined goal to focus on. I played a lot with “pause” on so that I could get one thing done before I had to worry about something else. I liked it okay, but it wasn’t an all-time favorite.
SimCity 2000, on the other hand, absolutely grabbed me. I’m not sure what the difference was, as it mainly added more things I had to pay attention to, but for some reason I took to it and played the hell out of it. I started with my usual careful and slow building, but before long I was able to play with the city running constantly, and even could handle a disaster or two.
Part of the appeal was that I loved the look of it. The cities in the original were nice, but the graphics in 2000 looked great. It was pixilated, sure, but done so well.
I also enjoyed the sandbox nature of it. I liked giving myself weird terrain to try and tame. I would come up with concept cities. I foretold the Tea Party.
I tried other Sim games, like SimEarth, SimAnt, and SimFarm, but none of those really did much for me. SimCity 2000 was what I always went back to instead.
When SimCity 3000 came out I was overjoyed, but that didn’t last. The level of simulation had become far too fine, and what had been a fun play experience turned into a work-like slog. I didn’t want to analyze traffic patterns and negotiate deals and such. In my mind, SimCity 3000 felt that what I wanted to do in SC2000 was “be a mayor” not “create a city”. That’s a big difference.
That’s where SimCity and I parted ways. I haven’t touched a Sim game since then. SimCity 2000 pretty much established my limit of how deep a simulation could go for me to still find it entertaining, and that limit has been surpassed many times over now. I never even got into games like Populous which tried to take the idea in a different direction. (I did have a brief flirtation with “Tycoon” games that we’ll talk about.) Even on the iPad, where I would think a game like SC2000 could shine, I grabbed the version of SimCity available (not the pay-to-play one) but didn’t really do much with it. Will I ever reticulate a spline again?