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Matt Keller
03 Nov, 2007

SimCity DS Review

DS Review | We built this city on rock 'n' roll.
There has been two distinctly separate series of SimCity games – the popular Maxis series on PCs, and the Nintendo version on consoles. When SimCity was announced for the DS, quite a few people thought it would return under Nintendo’s guise, but SimCity DS is very much Maxis’ version of the game. Developed by Japanese studio syn Sophia (who N64 wrestling fans may remember better as AKI Entertainment), SimCity DS comes across as something of a mix of SimCity 2000 and 3000, compressed for play on the DS. While it sounds like a neat prospect, SimCity DS' execution is less than perfect, which is bound to leave some SimCity fans disappointed.

SimCity DS does not depart from the core premise of the franchise – players take on the role of mayor, and need to build a city from the ground up. You will need to build residential land for people to live, commercial land for people to shop and entertain themselves, and industrial land for work. As boss of city hall, players will also be responsible for power, water, schools, police, fire and other emergency services, transport, and the list goes on. The key to the game is balancing all of these elements along with the demands of the council and your citizens while keeping the city’s financials in the black. It’s not an easy job, but someone has to do it.

  
Mayor this, Grandpa! *punch*

Mayor this, Grandpa! *punch*
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For players that are new to SimCity, the DS version of the game features a fairly robust tutorial that will guide you through everything there is to know about running your own metropolis. The game also provides you with the option to take over a small city that is already on its way. Those who are familiar with SimCity can just jump into the game. The player will be asked to pick a square of terrain on which to start – each block will have a different difficulty level tied to it as well as a preset level of cash. Sadly, there is no option to design your own terrain. From that point, it is just basically SimCity – build the town up, avoid going broke, and help the city through any crisis. There are some differences – disasters and celebrations will trigger mini-games where the player will have direct control over the outcome – you can blow fires away by using the microphone, or use your stylus to trigger fireworks or abduct people. It is a neat little diversion, but not really crucial to the whole package.

Unfortunately, the SimCity DS experience begins to falter quite quickly. Arguably the game’s biggest problem stems from its interface – the developer has tried to cram all of the functionality of the PC versions of SimCity into the portable version, but this has left the interface to become cluttered and confusing – it is really frustrating to try and do the most basic of things. It can prove quite difficult to drive the game at first, and this is made more irritating by the constant nagging of your assistant. Your assistant is chosen based on a couple of personality questions at the start of the game. He or she will constantly remind you of the needs of specific groups, and people who come to see the mayor. The problem is that players will be persistently nagged about these problems after solving them, and that is just a pain in the arse.

Players of SimCity DS will basically get as much time out of it as they are willing to put in – the game does not exactly end. Of course, building your city from scratch is not the only option – players can opt to pick one of eight scenarios in the Save the City mode, which requires getting a city out of a pinch, usually after a big disaster or something like that. It is not quite as robust as the scenario modes in the PC games, but makes for a decent change of pace. The problem is that the game only has one save slot, and that’s for the Build the City mode – you cannot record your progress in Save the City mode; the job has to be done in one sitting.

  
So long Stink Town!

So long Stink Town!
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The SimCity games on the PC are not exactly known for their graphical prowess, but the DS version of the game does not look particularly pretty in comparison. Because of the lower resolution of the DS screen, a lot of the more intricate details of the cityscape have been sacrificed. This leaves your city looking pretty plain, and many of the buildings will be replicated – a full size city just does not look as impressive here. The soundtrack is somewhat minimalist, but has a few nice tunes – though there’s not a whole lot else going on with the sound.

SimCity DS is a reasonable attempt to condense the city building game into a portable format, but some of the compromises made in order to squeeze every aspect of the game in have made the experience less than ideal. To be frank, the interface sucks, there are not enough save slots and the assistant is annoying, but if you can overcome those two things, then you have a perfectly reasonable version of SimCity.
The Score
SimCity DS is classic SimCity, but with a cluttered interface and a bunch of other minor annoyances.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related SimCity DS Content

Sim City DS confirmed
01 Mar, 2007 For PAL regions.
Sim City coming to DS
01 Sep, 2006 City-building to go portable shortly.
The Settlers Review
19 Aug, 2007 The tiny Romans get tinier.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  21/06/2007 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Genre:
  Simulation
Year Made:
  2007

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