SimCity Creator

SimCity Creator
SimCity Creator Cover
Platforms Nintendo DS, Wii
Genre Big City Building Across Time
Score 7  Clock score of 7Gameplay: 6
Fun Factor: 8
Gfx/Sound: 7
Story: 6
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SimCity Creator is a city-building game for the Nintendo DS. The game is known as SimCity DS 2 in Japan, but EA decided to rebrand it as SimCity Creator to align it with the Wii game of the same name that was also released in September 2008 (supposedly, the first SimCity DS, so they were also trying to break out of that stigma). So please, take note that this review is of the DS game and not the Wii game, while both SimCity games, they seem different enough to definitely qualify as unique games.

I've always been a fan of SimCity, remembering back to the days of DOS where if you bulldozed a church God sent your way a tornado as thanks; and sleeping over at my friend Joey's house just so I could play SimCity 2000 all night (plus he had a pretty awesome Lego collection). SimCity and I have a long history, heck, I even played SimCity 64 for the 64DD in Akihabara, Japan. However, I skipped SimCity DS because I honestly didn't think the stylus was accurate enough to play a tile-based game where precision mattered. If the controls for SimCity DS are anything like Creator's, I'll be both right and wrong, which I'll describe below.

SimCity Creator is a unique game, blending some fun scenarios with original building architecture, but let's see if it's actually worth playing.

What I liked: Different time periods, different architecture, different challenges. The game features four eras, with the second and third eras featuring multiple branching options. Basically, you start the game in the stone age, and when you reach a certain number of citizens, you progress to either Asia or the European Renaissance. After that, it's on to a choice of a developed Asia, European Industrial, or the American Industrial Revolution. Finally, it's the Global Warning Age, where you combat all the damage you've done to the planet while trying to continue growing your city.

It's definitely different than your typical SimCity game, focusing instead on loose scenarios instead of complete free-play. In the stone age, you have no access to police, fire, hospitals, schools, or power plants, simply housing and some simple commercial marketplaces. Heck, you use trees instead of money as currency. This definitely simplifies things, and allows the game to progress at a fun pace, giving you access to more buildings as the eras progress. While this may sound boring or limiting, it works pretty well at least the first time through. But when I played the game a second time checking out the different periods, I found myself wondering when I was going to get access to the next set of buildings (though there is a free-play mode available with I assume everything unlocked immediately).

The global warming stage is also rather challenging, though somewhat for the wrong reasons. I'll get into this more down below, but it's a long, tough stage that takes longer than the previous three stages combines. This caught me a bit off guard but it forces you to build across nearly the entire available slab of land while being quite efficient with police department placement and the size of your zoned areas.

Finally, I was surprised about the effectiveness of the stylus in SimCity for the DS. While it had its issues, it mostly worked pretty well. But then again...

What I didn't like: The controls were also pretty wonky at times. Accuracy could have been better, but I chalk that up to the small screen and fat stylus. However, some of the design decisions are a bit off. If you're in the middle of dragging a road or zone, there's no way to cancel that out except to drag waaay off screen. There is an undo button, but it only undoes one action and doesn't even work for everything you can do. It's definitely not a game breaker, but you do fight with it more often than you should.

The game features a lot of disasters, you'll be the receipient of quite a few tornados early on and in the later stage, an earthquake nearly every year. 95% of the disasters don't do any damage, but when you get hit by an earthquake that does... be prepared to either revert back to your last save or spend the next half hour cleaning up.

Scenario goals are also not as helpful as I would have liked, especially in the final, global warming stage. You're told to reach a 100% approval rating, but in my first game, I never got past 10%! The game never tells you that you actually gain approval by increasing your population. So the final stage is really just about building a city as big as you possibly can, with a secondary goal of limiting pollution. It wasn't too hard once I figured that out, but I had started over completely before I discovered it. I think this might have something to do with a crappy translation.


Gameplay: 6
Suffers from the somewhat inprecise stylus input, but otherwise is a very fun twist on the classic SimCity model. I would play the game for hours at a time and would only have to quit after my hand started cramping up.

Fun Factor: 8
Whoops, already said it was very fun! Yes, you heard right. City building on the small screen is just as fun and entertaining as it was back in the day while playing SimCity 2000. While the game isn't as deep, it has a lot of fun quirks making it a unique experience.

Graphics and Sound: 7
Chibi-looking citizens abound to help you along your way (or hinder you with their mysterious messages on what you're actually supposed to do...), and all the buildings populating your city are recognizable and well drawn. Not to mention the game features over five different styles for nearly every building to encompass all the different time periods and locations, the game does not start to look stale after many hours of playing.

Story: 6
Hey, a SimCity game with a bit of a story, if you call advancing from one time period to the next a plot. Actually though, your citizens will interact with you quite often, introducing new buildings, making requests for more parks, and giving you opportunities to make decisions about the future of your city.

Overall: 7
If you're a fan of SimCity, definitely give this game a try. It's a light-hearted approach to the series and features some fun scenarios that are about more than just increasing your population. It has its issues but honestly you will probably become quite addicted to the game that you're able to ignore them. Like I said above, I would play marathon sessions of this game, and it was fun the whole time.

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