25 Years of Sim City
By Gerald Lynch on 03 Oct 2014 at 10:00PM
Happy 25th birthday to Sim City, the game that spawned a thousand imitators and kickstarted the careers of a generation of city planners. Oh, and it also inspired a little known life simulation series called The Sims. You may have heard of it. We'll skip over that.
First released on October 3rd 1989, Sim City, masterminded by game design legend Will Wright, was a revelation upon its release. Giving you granular control over a top-down city's residential and industrial planning, you could micromanage the power grid and taxes, and even unleash a series of disasters upon your otherwise-utopian idyll.
The 1989 monochrome version of Sim City for the Apple Macintosh
Sim City went on to become a worldwide, franchised hit with multiple sequels. But its success also offered developers Maxis the rare opportunity to spin off a number of increasingly-niche titles under the same Sim banner. Some were great, some bizarre, some downright dull. We may be living through the age of video game sequels, but I'd bet my annual healthcare budget on this selection never getting a current-gen makeover.
Sim Earth (1990)
Who wants to play at being a mayor when you can play at being a god? That was the premise of Sim Earth, a massively ambitious simulation that put you in charge of not just a town, but an entire planet. The game acted like a pixellated biosphere -- with control over everything from the cloud formations to volcanic activity to even the shifting plates of the continents, minor changes or oversights in one area of planet management could have disastrous effects elsewhere. Or, conversely, a perfectly balanced world could lead to the evolution of not just life, but intelligent, sentient life (which, in true Sim fashion, you could wipe out with a purposeful earthquake).
Sim Ant (1991)
The Sim franchise proved early on that its society-building template wasn’t limited to human civilisations. Rather than following up quickly with a rote Sim City 2, Maxis took a different tact in 1991, and pushed out the slightly bizarre Sim Ant. As the name suggests, the focus here was on bringing an ant colony to local dominance — one of the few Sim games that has an “endgame” goal in wiping out the area’s red ant strongholds and infesting a nearby house, forcing its human inhabitants out.
Sim Farm (1993)
Long before Harvest Moon had you digging up turnips, marrying the local horse breeder and eyeing up an extension for your homestead, Maxis took a more studious approach to simulated agriculture with Sim Farm. It did for gaming what Countryfile does for BBC TV -- it sent all that played it to sleep.
Sim Health (1994)
"The National Health Care Simulation". If that blurb isn't cardiac-arresting, I don't know what is. If you're the sort of person who finds simulation games dry, you'd probably need a few blasts from a defibrillator to get through Sim Health. With none of the humour or charm of Theme Hospital, you were put in charge of the entire US health care system in the mid nineties -- a time when so-called Obamacare was probably just a scribble in the current president's notebook. A UK equivalent today would be particularly apt -- just how few nurses does it take to run a hospital? Which immigrant group can you make the scapegoat for GP waiting times? And just how many backhanders can you get away with before privatising the entire NHS?
Read the complete version here : http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2014/10/25-years-of-sim-city-the-sim-game-sequels-well-never-see/