SimCity was one of the first "God games". Originally released in 1989 on the Mac and PC, it made its first console appearance on the Super Nintendo. Now new sequels are available, among which one on the N64 in 1997 and two years later this game on the Nintendo 64DD.
Ever wanted to create your own city and control every aspect of it? No? Tough luck then, because that's exactly what SimCity is all about! You can build and customize almost everything in-game, from the smallest details of road to the larger than life buildings and other infrastructure. The addiction comes with staying out of debt, which slowly draws you towards the game over, so you must thrive and build the perfect city.
This you do as mayor of a new city, built in the middle of a desert. However, there are no people living in this city, there are only Sims. Your ultimate goal is to make your city so desirable that 500,000 or more "Sims" want to live in your city. To this end you must solve problems like rising crime rates, traffic jams or environmental pollution. Build police stations to lower the crimes, add more roads to stop traffic jams, and don't forget to reduce taxes to make the citizens happier or else they'll leave, but not before speaking an angry word to you in Japanese.
Oh right, I forgot to tell you; SimCity 64 is completely in Japanese. Which to me ruined things like understanding a story mode and all the tips you can get from your financial advisor. SimCity 64 is a financial simulation game, and logically has a lot of text; so to blame the game for only being released in Japan would be unfair. Still if you are familiar with past SimCity games, you might get a kick out of this rarely seen 64DD rendition, as all the icons are the same as previous games, but there still remain a ton of menus to figure out.
The viewpoint in the game has you looking down from the sky on the sprite-dressed city, like a helicopter view. You can even zoom into the city and go down to street-walking-level to actually talk to your Sim-inhabitants while their walking around, and see how they're doing! Zooming in to see what's wrong with your city is nifty. This is a great feature when you realize you can even take the train you build to travel around, were it not for the slower than a turtle 3D engine. Even at the time it must've looked like ten-year-old SNES-esque 3D. The standard view is better anyway when you are trying to build an entire city.
So what else is new in this 64DD version? You can draw one simple double framed character in Mario Artist: Paint Studio to make it look "animated" and import it in SimCity 64 to see walk around. That'll guarantee you at least one laugh if you can figure out how to do it. But if you can get around the Mario Artist suites, that won't be a problem with the disk exchanging and all.
Your objective in this game is simply to build, maintain, and expand the city successfully. In addition, you must to try to strategically place your buildings and zones. For example, if you create industrial zones close to residential ones, any pollution from the industrial area will lower the land value of the residential areas, thereby causing you to lose tax dollars from a high land value area. As in real life, revenues in SimCity 64 come primarily from taxes. The more active your residential, commercial, and industrial zones, the more tax dollars you gain. Expenses come from paying for the police department, fire department, road maintenance, etc. Spend all your money on new buildings? You can take out loans to help in the building of the city. "Winning" simply involves being able to maintain a stable city, which isn't easy.
SimCity 64 appeals to those that like to pursue in realistic strategy. They are intrigued with building a city, but may get frustrated when they can't keep it going because of debt. Those who can strategically and effectively build their city will find great enjoyment in watching it grow; and this, although hard to accomplish, is the most enjoyable aspect of the game. Well, that, and building a giant Mario statue in the middle of your city.
In between the simple music, few sound effects, functional 2D overview graphics, easy menus, basic 3D engine, still addicting game play, and the ability to save your game as much as you'd like to (like a friend of mine from Japan did before sending it over), this is still a great game no matter what. Well in between all that, compared to what could've been one big 64DD inter-game connectivity party (where's Sim Helicopter, Sim Stocks & the rest of the Paint Studio hookups?), nothing innovative or special can be seen. Despite being developed by HAL Laboratory, and EA having a contract with Nintendo for it to be one of the first seven games on the add-on drive. One has to wonder why it was released in such a generic state, just go to simcity.com and find the game you should buy.