Video Game Walkthroughs

SimCity (1989) | Best Games | Strategy | Publisher: Maxis

Screenshot of a typical city during an interme...

Screenshot from SimCity 2000



For this weeks best game in history we couldn’t forget the original SimCity. The one that started it all. Actually for those truly savvy gamer folks, we didn’t forget SimEarth which didn’t do as well but still wasn’t at all a bad title for Maxis either, as it wasn’t till Sim City’s success that the whole ‘Sim’ concept really started taking off.

Will Wright was not yet a legend, but worked on the environments for Raid on Bungeling Bay for Broderbund‘s simple war zone shoot ’em up on the C64 when he had an epiphany. He realized that he was more interested in designing the cities than blowing them up.  That urge led him to design the simulation program, where players could build and manage a city, that would be the game. AT a party in 1987, Write met producer Jeff Braun, who saw the potential in a game that he later told the New Yorker, would pull in “megalomaniacs who want to control the world.”  Brawn and Write founded development studio Maxis, and made millions from this simple “God game.”

The most radical feature of the game is its most basic premise. You don’t get to win at SimCity, but you’ll derive constant satisfaction from playing it.  The rules are clear and the results are immediate: build a useful road, and people will drive on it: draw a power line to your new industrial park, and the businesses will come. When things go wrong, it’s usually easy to figure out why, and, of course sometimes the player is the city’s worst enemy. Taking a mature, finely tuned city and unleashing Gozilla on it is a rite of passage for many gamers. After all, you can learn as much from destroying something as from building it.

Maxis continues to ship sequels and expansions to the franchise, and SimCity paved the way for the Sims, by a wide margin the biggest seller in PC history. The latest editions of SimCity are so granular that they let you open expresso shops or tinker with universal healthcare. But newcomers should start with the original model: getting the fundamentals of a city right is still the most satisfying way to play God.



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