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SimCity Classic cover art.jpg
Early cover arts of SimCity feature a jukebox-like design, with different versions depicting different cities and disasters.
Infogrames (Amiga CDTV version)
Nintendo EAD (SNES version)
Mobile: Babaroga
Publisher(s)Brøderbund, Maxis, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Superior Software/Acornsoft and Infogrames Entertainment, SA (first European release)
Designer(s)Will Wright (SimCity series)
Composer(s)Frédéric Mentzen
Philippe Vachey
(Amiga CDTV)
Soyo Oka (SNES)
Platform(s)Acorn Archimedes, Acorn Electron, Amiga, Amiga CDTV, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, BBC Micro, C64, DESQview, DOS, EPOC32, FM Towns, iOS (iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad), PC-98, GBA, OLPC XO-1, OS/2, Linux, Mac OS, Mobile phone (Symbian or Java), NeWS, SNES, Tk, Unix, Windows, X11 TCL, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Virtual Console
Release date(s)October 3rd, 1989
Genre(s)City-building game
System requirements

MS-DOS CPU 286 6 MHz, 2 MB hard disk space
Amiga Ver.1 512 KB RAM, Ver.2 1 MB RAM

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SimCity Classic cover art.jpg
Early cover arts of SimCity feature a jukebox-like design, with different versions depicting different cities and disasters.
Infogrames (Amiga CDTV version)
Nintendo EAD (SNES version)
Mobile: Babaroga
Publisher(s)Brøderbund, Maxis, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Superior Software/Acornsoft and Infogrames Entertainment, SA (first European release)
Designer(s)Will Wright (SimCity series)
Composer(s)Frédéric Mentzen
Philippe Vachey
(Amiga CDTV)
Soyo Oka (SNES)
Platform(s)Acorn Archimedes, Acorn Electron, Amiga, Amiga CDTV, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, BBC Micro, C64, DESQview, DOS, EPOC32, FM Towns, iOS (iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad), PC-98, GBA, OLPC XO-1, OS/2, Linux, Mac OS, Mobile phone (Symbian or Java), NeWS, SNES, Tk, Unix, Windows, X11 TCL, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Virtual Console
Release date(s)October 3rd, 1989
Genre(s)City-building game
System requirements

MS-DOS CPU 286 6 MHz, 2 MB hard disk space
Amiga Ver.1 512 KB RAM, Ver.2 1 MB RAM

SimCity is a city-building simulation video game, first released on October 3, 1989, and designed by Will Wright. SimCity was Maxis' first product, which has since been ported into various personal computers and game consoles, and spawned several sequels including SimCity 2000 in 1993, SimCity 3000 in 1999, SimCity 4 in 2003, SimCity DS, SimCity Societies in 2007, and the forthcoming SimCity in 2013. The original SimCity was later renamed SimCity Classic. Until the release of The Sims in 2000, the SimCity series was the best-selling line of computer games made by Maxis. SimCity spawned a series of Sim games.

On January 10, 2008 the SimCity source code was released under the free software GPL 3 license under the name Micropolis.



SimCity on the SGI Indigo workstation

SimCity was originally developed by game designer Will Wright. The inspiration for SimCity came from a feature of the game Raid on Bungeling Bay that allowed Wright to create his own maps during development. Wright soon found he enjoyed creating maps more than playing the actual game, and SimCity was born.[1] While developing SimCity, Wright cultivated a real love of the intricacies and theories of urban planning[2] and acknowledges the influence of System Dynamics which was developed by Jay Wright Forrester and whose book on the subject[3] laid the foundations for the simulation.[4] In addition, Wright also was inspired by reading "The Seventh Sally", a short story by Stanisław Lem, in which an engineer encounters a deposed tyrant, and creates a miniature city with artificial citizens for the tyrant to oppress.[5]

The first version of the game was developed for the Commodore 64 in 1985; it was not published for another four years.[6] The original working title of SimCity was Micropolis.[7] The game represented an unusual paradigm in computer gaming, in that it could neither be won nor lost; as a result, game publishers did not believe it was possible to market and sell such a game successfully. Brøderbund declined to publish the title when Wright proposed it, and he pitched it to a range of major game publishers without success. Finally, founder Jeff Braun of then-tiny Maxis agreed to publish SimCity as one of two initial games for the company.[1]

Wright and Braun returned to Brøderbund to formally clear the rights to the game in 1988, when SimCity was near completion. Brøderbund executives Gary Carlston and Don Daglow saw that the title was infectious and fun, and signed Maxis to a distribution deal for both of its initial games. With that, four years after initial development, SimCity was released for the Amiga and Macintosh platforms, followed by the IBM PC and Commodore 64 later in 1989.[6]

Two decades later, in January 2008, the SimCity source code was released under the free software GPL 3 license.[8] The release of the source code was related to the donation of SimCity software to the One Laptop Per Child program, as one of the principles of the OLPC laptop is the use of free and open source software. The open source version is called Micropolis (the initial name for SimCity) since EA retains the trademark Simcity. The version shipped on OLPC laptops will still be called SimCity, but will have to be tested by EA quality assurance before each release to be able to use that name. The Micropolis source code has been translated to C++, integrated with Python and interfaced with both GTK+ and OpenLaszlo.[9]


The objective of SimCity, as the name of the game suggests, is to build and design a city, without specific goals to achieve (except in the scenarios, see below). The player can mark land as being zoned as commercial, industrial, or residential, add buildings, change the tax rate, build a power grid, build transportation systems and take many other actions, in order to enhance the city. Once able to construct buildings in a particular area, the too-small-to-see residents, known as Sims, may choose to construct and upgrade houses, apartment blocks, light or heavy industrial buildings, commercial buildings, hospitals, churches, and other structures. The Sims make these choices based on such factors as traffic levels, adequate electrical power, crime levels, and proximity to other types of buildings—for example, residential areas next to a power plant will seldom appreciate to the highest grade of housing.[10]

Also, the player may face disasters including flooding, tornadoes, fires (often from air disasters or even shipwrecks), earthquakes and attacks by monsters. In addition, monsters and tornadoes can trigger train crashes by running into passing trains. There was also a reported case of a nuclear meltdown. Later disasters in the game's sequels included lightning strikes, volcanoes, meteors and attack by extraterrestrial craft. In the Super Nintendo version and later, one can also build rewards when they are given to them, such as a mayor's mansion or a casino.


The original SimCity kicked off a tradition of goal-centered, timed scenarios that could be won or lost depending on the performance of the player/mayor. The scenarios were an addition suggested by Brøderbund in order to make SimCity more like a game.[11] The original cities were all based on real world cities and attempted to re-create their general layout, a tradition carried on in SimCity 2000 and in special scenario packs. While most scenarios either take place in a fictional timeline or have a city under siege by a fictional disaster, a handful of available scenarios are based on actual historical events.

The original scenarios are:

The PC version (IBM, Tandy compatible; on floppy disk), CD re-release, as well as the Amiga and Atari ST versions included two additional scenarios:

In addition, the later edition of SimCity on the Super NES included the basics of these two scenarios in two, more difficult scenarios that were made available after a player had completed the original scenarios:

While the scenarios were meant to be solved strategically, many players discovered by dropping the tax rate to zero near the end of the allotted timespan, one could heavily influence public opinion and population growth. In scenarios such as San Francisco, where rebuilding and, by extension, maintaining population growth play a large part of the objective, this kind of manipulation can mean a relatively easy victory. Later titles in the series would take steps to prevent players from using the budget to influence the outcome of scenarios.

Ports and versions

SimCity was originally released for home computers, including the Amiga, Atari ST and DOS-based IBM PC. After its success it was converted for several other computer platforms and video game consoles, specifically the Commodore 64, Macintosh, Acorn Archimedes, Amstrad CPC, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (which was later released on Virtual Console), EPOC32, mobile phone, Internet, Windows, FM-Towns, OLPC XO-1 and NeWS HyperLook on Sun Unix. The game is also available as a multiplayer version for X11 TCL/Tk on various Unix, Linux, DESQview and OS/2 operating systems. In addition, a version was developed in 1991 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, but it was never released. Certain versions have since been re-released with various add-ons, including extra scenarios. An additional extra add on for the Windows version of SimCity Classic was a level editor. This editor could be opened without use of the SimCity Classic disc. The level editor is a simple tool that allows the user to create grasslands, dirt land, and water portions.

In 2007 the developer Don Hopkins released a free and open source version of the original SimCity, renamed Micropolis for trademark reasons, for the One Laptop per Child XO-1.[12][13]

Super NES variation

SimCity for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System features the same gameplay and scenario features; however, since it was developed and published by Nintendo, the company incorporated their own ideas. Instead of the Godzilla monster disaster, Bowser of the Super Mario series becomes the attacking monster, and once the city reaches a landmark 500,000 populace, the player receives a Mario statue that is placeable in the city. The Nintendo port also features special buildings the player may receive as rewards, similar to the rewards buildings in SimCity 2000. The game also includes schools and hospitals, though they cannot be placed by the player. Instead, the game will sometimes turn an empty residential lot into one. There are also city classifications, such as becoming a metropolis at 100,000 people. Also unique to the SNES version is a character named "Dr. Wright" (whose physical appearance is based on Will Wright) who acts as an adviser to the player. The soundtrack to the Nintendo version was composed by Soyo Oka. This edition is featured as Nintendo's Player's Choice as a million seller.

In August 1996 a version of the game entitled BS Sim City Machizukuri Taikai was broadcast exclusively to Japanese players via the SNES's Satellaview subsystem. Later, an official Japan-only sequel titled SimCity 64 was released for the Japan-only Nintendo 64 add-on, the Nintendo 64DD.

Comparison of different versions

Detailed information about ports of SimCity Classic
PlatformVersion – Release dateComments
AmigaV.1.0 – Alongside SimCity for the Macintosh, this was the first and original version of SimCity. It ran on any Amiga with at least 512 kilobytes of memory, and was distributed on a single floppy disk.[14]
V.2.0This version has been enhanced with the ability to switch tile sets. A tile set consists of all the images the game uses to draw the city, and by changing the tile set one can give the city a different look and feel.

Because of this new functionality, SimCity 2 requires at least 1MB of memory, twice that of the original version.

Amiga CDTV[15]To make the game more pleasant to play when viewed on a distant television, this version of the game shows a closer view of the city. Other changes includes a user interface more suited for use from the CDTV's remote control, use Red Book Audio for music, and the addition of three scenarios.[citation needed]
Amstrad CPCV.1.0 – Sim City Amstrad CPC
Atari STV.1.0 – Sim City Atari STThis version features scenarios but has no music and the game's graphics are less colorful than the graphics of the Amiga version 2.0.[16]
BBC Micro
Acorn Electron
V.1.0 – This version is a very simple version of SimCity, lacking music, many sound effects and limited colour palletes.
Commodore 64V.1.0 – This version lacks police/fire stations, stadiums, railways and disasters. It also forgoes the stat screen useful for evaluating the city's development. The player can select between eight scenarios or on randomly generated terrain.[citation needed]
MacintoshV.1.0 – Features high resolution 256 color graphics.[citation needed]
PCMS-DOS – Features high resolution EGA graphics and limited sound effects through PC speaker or Tandy DAC.
CD-ROM – Released by Interplay for DOS, it featured 256-color graphics and added live-action video.
Windows –
Super NES
  • JP April 26, 1991

  • NA August 1991

  • EU September 24, 1992
Published by Nintendo under license by Maxis, the SNES version of SimCity had additional features not found in the original SimCity, including graphics changing to match the seasons (trees are green in summer, turn rusty brown in the fall, white in the winter, and bloom as cherry blossoms in the spring), civic reward buildings, and a very energetic green-haired city advisor named Dr. Wright (after Will Wright), who would often pop up and inform the player of problems with their city. In addition, the SNES version of SimCity had two additional bonus scenarios, accessible when the original scenarios were completed: Las Vegas and Freeland (see section on scenarios). The style of the buildings also resemble those in Japan rather than those of North America in Western releases.

A Nintendo Entertainment System port was also planned, but was cancelled.

Nintendo also put their stamp on the game, with the most dangerous disaster being Bowser attack on a city (in place of a generic movie-type monster), and a Mario statue awarded once a Megalopolis level (misspelled Megaropolis in game) of 500,000 inhabitants is reached.

The SNES version of SimCity has been released for the Wii's Virtual Console service.

ZX SpectrumV.1.0 – 1989Has all the features (such as scenarios, crime, and disasters) of later versions of the game, only with much more limited sound and graphics.[17]
  • SimCity Classic is available for Palm OS and on the website as Classic Live. It was also released by Atelier Software for the Psion 5 handheld computer, and mobile phones in 2006.[18]
  • The July 2005 issue of Nintendo Power stated that a development cartridge of SimCity for the NES was found at Nintendo headquarters. Never released, it is reportedly the only one in existence.
  • Additionally a terrain editor and architecture disks were available with tileset graphics for settings of Ancient Asia, Medieval, Wild West, Future Europe, Future USA and a Moon Colony.
  • Versions of SimCity for the BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, and Acorn Archimedes computers were published by Superior Software/Acornsoft. Programmer Peter Scott had to squeeze the 512k Amiga version of the game into 20k in order to run on the ageing 32k BBC Micro and Acorn Electron. Despite this, it kept almost all of the functionality of the Amiga game and very similar graphics (although only using four colours).
  • DUX Software published a Unix version of SimCity for the NeWS window system using the HyperLook user interface environment, and a multi-player version of SimCity for the X11 window system using the TCL/Tk user interface toolkit, both developed and ported to various platforms by Don Hopkins.

For other Sim games, see the list of Sim games.

Critical acclaim

SimCity was critically acclaimed and received significant recognition within a year after its initial release. As of December 1990 (from a Maxis document by Sally Vandershaf, Maxis P.R. Coordinator) the game was reported to have won the following awards:

  • Best Entertainment Program 1989.
  • Best Educational Program, 1989.
  • Best Simulation Program, 1989.
  • Critics' Choice: Best Consumer Program, 1989, Software Publisher's Association.
  • Most Innovative Publisher, 1989, Computer Game Developer's Conference.
  • Best PC Game, 1989.
  • Member of the 1989 Game Hall of Fame, Macworld.
  • Game of the Year, 1989., Computer Gaming World.[19]
  • Second Best Simulation of all Time for C-64.
  • Fourth Best Simulation of All Time for Amiga, .info.
  • Editors' Choice Award: Best Simulation, 1989, Compute.
  • Editors' Choice Award: Best Recreation Program, 1989, MacUser.
  • Best Computer Strategy Game, 1989, Video Games & Computer Entertainment.
  • Best Game Designer of the Year: Will Wright, for SimCity, 1989, Computer Entertainer.
  • Best 20th Century Computer Game, 1989, Charles S. Roberts Award.
  • Software Award of Excellence, 1990–1991, Technology and Learning.
  • Best Educational Program, 1990, European Computer Leisure Award.
  • Tilt D'Or (Golden Award): Most Original Game, 1989, Tilt (France).
  • Game of the Year, 1989, Amiga Annual (Australia).
  • World Class Award, 1990, Macworld (Australia).
  • 4th best game of all time, Amiga Power.[20]

In addition, SimCity won the Origins Award for "Best Military or Strategy Computer Game" of 1989 in 1990,[citation needed] and the multiplayer X11 version of the game was also nominated in 1992 as the Best Product of the Year in Unix World.[citation needed] SimCity was named #4 "Ten Greatest PC Game Ever" by PC World in 2009.[21] It was named one of the sixteen most influential games in history at Telespiele, a German technology and games trade show, in 2007.[22] It was named #11 on IGN's 2009 "Top 25 PC Games of All Time" list.[23]

The SimCity Terrain Editor was reviewed in 1989 in Dragon #147 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the expansion 4 out of 5 stars.[24]

The ZX Spectrum version was voted number 4 in the Your Sinclair Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time.[25]


The subsequent success of SimCity speaks for itself: "Sim" games of many types were developed – with Will Wright and Maxis developing myriad titles including SimEarth, SimFarm, SimTown, Streets of SimCity, SimCopter, SimAnt, SimLife, SimIsle, SimTower, SimPark, SimSafari, and The Sims, as well as the unreleased SimsVille and SimMars. They also obtained licenses for some titles developed in Japan, such as SimTower and Let's Take The A-Train (just called A-Train outside of Japan). A recent development is The Sims, and its sequels, The Sims 2 and The Sims 3. Spore, released in 2008, was originally going to be titled "SimEverything" – a name that Will Wright thought might accurately describe what he was trying to achieve. SimCity yielded seven sequels:

SimCity inspired a new genre of video games. "Software toys" that were open-ended with no set objective were developed trying to duplicate SimCity's success. The most successful was most definitely Wright's own The Sims, which went on to be the best selling computer game of all time. The ideas pioneered in SimCity have been incorporated into real-world applications as well. For example, VisitorVille simulates a city based on website statistics.

The series also spawned a SimCity collectible card game, produced by Mayfair Games.

References in other games

In popular culture

During the Republican presidential primaries of 2012, candidate Herman Cain's 9-9-9 taxation proposal was widely attributed to a similar tax structure presented in SimCity 4; the CNBC cable networks relayed the story of the linkage of the SimCity ideal parameters as a possible origin of the taxation proposal (the story itself may have originated in the technical press).[27] However, SimCity's taxation schemes have not and do not fully reflect real world taxation systems; the game focuses on city-building and local government and subsequently only concerns taxation at local level, in this case property tax (hence the different level levied between residential, commercial and industrial areas).[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b Geoff Keighley. "SIMply Divine". Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  2. ^ "Inside Scoop – The History of SimCity". Electronic Arts Inc. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Forrester, Jay W. (1969). Urban dynamics. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT. ISBN 0-262-06026-4. 
  4. ^ Lobo, Daniel G (2007). "Playing with Urban Life". In Borries, Friedrich; Walz, Steffen P.; Böttger, Matthias. Space time play computer games, architecture and urbanism : the next level. Basel: Birkhauser. doi:10.1007/978-3-7643-8415-9_74. ISBN 978-3-7643-8415-9. 
  5. ^ Lew, Julie (June 15, 1989). "Making City Planning a Game". Retrieved May 18, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b "Inside scoop: The History of SimCity (page two)". Retrieved December 17, 2006. 
  7. ^ "Will Wright Chat Transcript". Retrieved November 8, 2007. 
  8. ^ "SimCity Source Code Released to the Wild! Let the ports begin". Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  9. ^ "micropolis - Micropolis City Simulator - Google Project Hosting". 2008-01-14. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  10. ^ "SimCity Classic: History and Review", Eric Albert, February 2001. Fetched from URL 15 March 2011.
  11. ^ Wilson, Johnny L. (May 1989), "What Do The "Sim"ple Folk Do?", Computer Gaming World: 16–17 
  12. ^ SimCity on the OLPC XO!. "SimCity on the OLPC XO!". Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  13. ^ "Games Aim For Good - Edge Magazine". 2007-03-07. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  14. ^ "Sim City (Amiga version)". Hall Of Light. Retrieved Mai 6, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Sim City (CDTV version)". Hall Of Light. Retrieved November 5, 2006. 
  16. ^ "Sim City (Atari ST version)". Atari Legend. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  17. ^ "Sim City (ZX version)". SimCity.txt on the original game disk. Retrieved June 6, 2007. 
  18. ^ "SimCity (mobile phone version) review". Pocket Gamer. Retrieved 2006-11-11. 
  19. ^ "Game of the Year Awards", Computer Gaming World: 42, October 1989 
  20. ^ Amiga Power magazine issue 0, Future Publishing, May 1991
  21. ^ Edwards, Benj (February 8, 2009). "The Ten Greatest PC Games Ever". PC World. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  22. ^ Plunkett, Luke (August 27, 2007). "German Journos Pick Their Most Important Games Of All Time". Kotaku. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  23. ^ "The Top 25 PC Games of All Time". IGN. August 6, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  24. ^ Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (July 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (147): 76–83. 
  25. ^ "Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair. September 1993. 
  26. ^ "Smash Bros. DOJO: Assist Items". Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  27. ^ Tassi, Paul (2011-10-14). "Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan Straight Out of SimCity?". ( Retrieved 2011-11-19. 

External links