Mad, Beautiful Ideas
EA Frees a Classic: SimCity

Electronic Arts recently approved the porting of the original Sim City to the OLPC XO Laptop. As a kid who grew up playing Sim City, I think it’s fantastic that a new generation of children will be introduced to computing and gaming by this fantastic, simple economic simulation. Sim City has always held a special place in my heart. Hell, I used to refuse to restart cities until they either failed, or I was simply out of room to do anything.

I remember once, I experienced a nuclear meltdown in the very first year of a new city (always built Nuclear, why bother with Coal?). Rather than scrapping that city like a reasonable person, I rebuilt across the river, my city scrimping along on virtually no money and almost a quarter of my land unusable due to nuclear contamination.

I managed to turn that game into a successful city that one day reached Metropolis status. Sim City is one of the few game franchises that has managed to remain relevant and entertaining over all these years. Sure, the new features hasn’t always been fantastic, and often have taken a revision or two. Like water in Sim City 2000, worked alright, but you could run a surprisingly small number of mains. In Sim City 3000, a sector had to be a certain distance from a main in order to have water, which makes more sense when looking at water mains. Plus, as a player you had more control. I’m sure the traffic features introduced in Sim City 4 will be improved greatly in the next revision of the game.

Despite the improvements in the series over the years, the original game still has a lot of charm, that the other games haven’t quite managed to match. This new release of the source code and game files for Sim City (rebranded as Metropolis for this release), was welcome to see. Now, the game will live on for a good long while, being improved by the community.

The first thing I think the community should improve upon? Well, they went through and removed the Plane Crash disaster from the game, due to 9/11 they claim. Why are we not allowed to be reminded of 9/11? It was a tragedy, certainly. It was the greatest loss of innocence of my generation. But to try to remove and hide anything that might remind us of it, is ridiculous. Low on my pending project queue is to fix this stupid omission, and release it as a patch, unless someone beats me to it.

So, go grab Micropolis, and either relive the fun of our youth, or experience one of the pinnacles of gaming for the first time.