An ambitious remake of a PC classic
The game is based on the old PC game of Sim City 3000. It's been simplified slightly, but maybe not enough, since it constantly runs sluggish. If I remember correctly, the PC version had 4 game speeds whilst this DS version has 2. The fast speed is an acceptable speed in which at least 1 day will pass per second. The game doesn't run at a constant speed though so sometimes 3 or 4 days will pass in that second. Its obvious to me that the game is too ambitious because if you look at the scrolling text, it takes about a game year to scroll! When scrolling the view around the map, the game will pause the simulation and the scrolling text speeds up slightly. Once you reach the top of the map and try to keep scrolling, since the game doesn't actually need to process any scrolling; the text will scroll at the speed you would expect. My point here is that you can clearly see that the DS is using all its resources processing information for the main game and sacrifices the small task of scrolling text. I decided to criticise the game speed first since its such an important aspect, because you will be building the town, then want to simulate the years to let the tax money come in. Only you will be waiting many minutes to simulate a game year. On a similar note, the game only has 2 zoom levels. I felt the default zoom sometimes wasn't close enough, but zooming in feels too close, and due to the scrolling lag, I ended up jerking passed the area I wanted to see, which basically renders that zoom level useless.
There are many aspects to building a town. You can zone areas of residential, commercial and industry which count towards the actual population. These will only develop if you have transport like road or rail nearby. Also, you will need to the town to be a nice place to live in, so you need to build academic facilities like schools and libraries, and make sure your residents have access to hospitals. Electricity and water need to be supplied, and garbage needs to be dealt with. You need to make sure you have these facilities but tactically place some of them. For example, make sure residents aren't living next to a landfill site etc.
One thing I remember from the PC was the amount of help you got from your city advisers. On the DS, all these advisers have been merged into one person, and this person isn't much help. They mainly just constantly tell you that you have visitors, who will claim you need more of a certain type of building. At first you believe your town really does need these buildings, but by the 10th time Granny Agnes comes in to your office to say their aren't enough hospitals, you will realise it all seems a bit random. Especially when you check your statistics sheet to see your health graph maxed out. Each character has so much text and always says the same thing, and its just a chore to get through.
There are some extra little mini game type things thrown in there to make use out of the touchscreen, but they are just annoying. If your town is prosperous, Santa will come on Christmas and you have to touch him with the stylus when he passes to drop the presents. He makes about 5 passes across the screen but after every pass, your advisor decides to chip in a few comments which you have to tap the screen to get rid of before Santa's next pass. Its the same thing when the King Kong like gorilla; Gabbon the Destroyer comes to your town. Every time you shoot him, you have to skip lines of text which then causes you to waste ammo if you tap the screen too many times. After every year that passes, your advisor will give you an 'economic report'. Its not a real report, all he basically says is ' you have a surplus of 100k'. I'm thinking 'mmmmm, well, I am making 5k profit per month, so he is not talking about revenue or profit, and I have 500k in the bank, so he is not talking about that either'. Basically, its useless and just some more text you have to skip that will only annoy you after you've read it for the 50th time.
When my city started out, I was really struggling for cash. Even though I only made minor changes and let the game simulate for many months before building any more. Then soon after, my water towers kept on exploding, but the game doesn't seem to give you hints on why. It seems if you just have enough water, or not quite enough, it somehow puts strain on your water towers and they explode, which then exacerbates the problem and so the rest explode. You get the same thing with power plants. But when you don't have the money to spend, going a power plant down is just crippling. Somehow, with a bit of luck, I managed to get through those days, but then with the right amount of power plants, my town was apparently too polluted, and who likes pollution? Gabon the Destroyer does! In comes the giant gorilla to punch your buildings and raze them to the ground. After 10 or so visits from Gabon, I decided to wipe out 90% of my industrial zones to lower the pollution and it did seem to do the trick, and soon after, the professor comes in to tell me he has discovered a new type of power plant that produces less pollution. Once these were erected, the pollution levels plummeted. Not only did Gabon never come back, but most of my small buildings then turned to sky scrapers as the 'quality of life' improved. Annoyingly, the professor came back a few years later with even more discoveries of power plants with little or no pollution. All those years when I had to make do with pollution, then he keeps coming with discoveries when I don't actually have use for them.
Despite my initial problems with money, once I had stable power plants etc, I then maxed every single budget so I was spending the max amount on police, firemen, education etc. With the amount of population I had, I could break even or even turn over a small profit. When the skyscrapers developed and the population shot up, I was making large profit, but I didn't really have anything to spend it on. You would think that spending the max on research, I would have got inventions sooner, but I would guess its probably limited by the year you are in too.
Overall, Sim City is one of those games that you try your best to love, since the concept is really cool, but you just wish it wasn't full of annoyances which combine together to create a frustrating game that becomes a chore to play as time progresses.