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Sim City 2000 Review

Publisher - Imagineer
Developer - Imagineer
Platform - 64DD
Type - Simulation
Score - 4/10

The following review is based on the Japanese version of Sim City 2000. The game contains many Japanese characters (both kana and kanji) and is not suitable for import for non-Japanese speakers.

Note that Sim City 2000 and Nintendo's Sim City 64 are two completely different games. What follows is the review of Imagineer's Sim City 2000, available only in Japan.

Judging from games like Fighter's Destiny or Quest 64, Imagineer is perhaps the most promising Japanese developer for N64. But while the company is breaking new grounds in the fighting and RPG arena, Sim City 2000 is a step backward in more than one sense of the word.

Gameplay: Type in your name and the name of your city and start building up a major metropolis on an empty lot. Gameplay is similar to the PC version. For a certain fee, you lay out industrial, residential, or commercial zones, build streets and railways, connect electricity, handle water resources, and then wait for things to grow. After a while, new businesses will start to flourish and people will move into your city. That's where the real game begins: Juggle resources, make sure that crime and pollution don't get out of hand, build police stations, new power plants, schools, parks, airports, football stadiums, and more. To spice up the gameplay once in a while, the computer randomly punishes you with disasters such as fires, floods, earthquakes, or even an alien attack.

Just like the PC version, Sim City 2000 on the N64 potentially offers never-ending gameplay. It's really addicting to create a functioning microcosm -- but there are a number of problems with the N64 version that keep us from recommending the game.

N64-specific features: The N64 version adds a lab to grow new plants, a horse-racing mini-game, an "omiyai" dating sub-game, a very basic space shooting game, and a virtual pet -- other than that it is identical to the PC/Mac version. These additions are interesting, but not so well executed that they raise the overall quality of the port.

Control: Keep in mind that the original Sim City 2000 was designed to be played with a mouse, not a good precondition for a console port. Although the N64's analog stick is able to simulate mouse control to a certain degree, it's far from ideal (especially when you want to create large zones). Imagineer tried to come up with a fitting solution to make the menus more intuitive for stick control by arranging them in a circular fashion. So to select any event or building, you simply push the stick into the appropriate direction. It's a decent solution, but can't compare to the original PC mouse control.

Graphics: It's hi-res, just like NFL Quarterback Club -- actually, not like Quarterback Club at all. Many of the colors and patterns constantly flicker and the sprite-based buildings and streets pixelate when zooming in. The disasters look exactly like in the PC version, with no attempt on parts of the developer to make use of the N64's hardware or improve on the old designs. The scrolling is horrendous, and the stills announcing events (such as the building of a landmark) are blurry and have no detail.

Sound: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new winner for worst music on the N64. Sim City 2000 uses the same elevator music as the PC classic, with the worst synth instrumentation you could imagine. I played it loud in the office for exactly 10 seconds before the whole place erupted in complaints and attempts to toss my N64 out of the window. Be nice to your neighbors, folks! Switch the music off.

The sound effects, a ring here, a police siren there, are directly lifted from the PC version, but so highly compressed that they sound muffled. What little speech there is sounds like it was spoken by a female Sean Connery. The word "splines" comes out as "shplinesh," and "Sim City" incidentally sounds like "Shim Shitty."

Overall: Sim City 2000 on PCs was one of the best sim games of its time. But now, four years later, the original system and graphics look dated -- add to that the N64 version's ridiculously bad sound and headache inducing flicker graphics, and you've got three huge reasons why the game won't come to the US. Unless a courageous US publisher invests lots of cash into making the game look and play better, stay away as far as possible from this game. Considering that the PC and Mac original can be had for only a few bucks, there is virtually no reason to recommend this game to the readers of this site -- even if your Japanese is impeccable. Avoid Sim City 2000 at all costs and wait for Nintendo's promising Sim City 64.