This classic city-building game was originally devised by creator Will Wright while he was working on the classic C64 shooter, Raid On Bungeling Bay. Wright found that he enjoyed making the overhead cities for the game – using his self-made editor – more than he enjoyed playing the game itself, so he set to work creating a game that would allow players to do the same.
SimCity was originally developed for the Commodore 64 and was initially released for that system in August of 1989, but was quickly ported to pretty much every video gaming system known to man at the time. It also spawned a long-running series, and provided a strong base from which developer/publisher Maxis would grow – specialising in “sim“-type games that would become its main market for decades to come.
Playing Commodore 64 SimCity now is interesting but limited. The game is somewhat simplistic – especially compared to subsequent conversions and follow-ups – but it’s easy to see the seed of a great idea here.
There are an endless supply of randomised maps available, but the city-building options are limited. There are no sports stadiums, or police and fire stations to build; you have to concentrate on roads, residential, industrial, commercial areas; parks; your power station and power lines, and if you’re lucky a sea port or airport (because they cost a lot of money). There’s also a limited ‘disasters’ menu too, which allows you to deal with natural issues should you want to.
There are graphs showing population/industrial/commercial growth, standard of living, and unemployment, and also density and location overviews that show you where pollution/traffic is worst, where land is most valuable, and where roads and power lines are routed.
The game comes with eight pre-built cities to play with, which you can load individually, and each has a disaster scenario associated with it. One being fictional (Dullsville), and the rest based on real-life cities (Bern, Boston, San Francisco, Tokyo, Rio, Hamburg, and Detroit), or you can create a new randomised landscape and even edit it to certain degree. And if you’re playing the disk version of the game you can also save your progress.
The C64 version of SimCity is a pioneering and hugely influential game, but there are better versions of the game available. The Super Nintendo version, for example, has more features and far better presentation. There are also an array of sequels, all of which add more and more features and detail to the basic concept of SimCity, while also improving the presentation.
More: SimCity on Wikipedia