SimCity DS
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-02-02 Nintendo DS Simulation E10 (Everyone 10+) EA

SimCity was one of my first game addictions, and I still have the original handy for whenever I need a "quick fix". SimCity DS was a Christmas gift from my husband and all these years later, it's good to know I still like my city planning as much as I did before.

SimCity DS is basically a port of SimCity 2000, making use of the dual screens, microphone and stylus. Before you create a city, you must first choose the region you want to start in. This influences the amount of money you start with and the overall difficulty of the game. You also get to pick one of five advisors that will help you with a number of things, by giving you tips and help you make the right decisions.

The bottom screen is your play area. All of your interface options are shown on the touch screen, so everything from navigating graphs and menus to scrolling the map and building is done with the stylus.

The top screen displays an isometric view of your city and the news, in the form of scrolling text. It's easy to miss them though, especially when you are always paying attention to the touch screen, but it's ok, since most of the headlines are there just for fun and not exactly for information about your city's condition. You can check how things are going by going into the graphs, where you can find information about population growth, pollution, crime, fire protection, education and so on.

Now and again you will also receive visitors. These petitioners are your citizens and they have come to let you know that there is a problem and a solution is needed. This is another way of getting hints as to how you are doing as a Mayor.

It takes a bit getting used to the icons in the menus and what they stand for, but after a while you will be sailing through the light, medium and heavy residential, commercial and industrial zones, the types of power plants, a number of landscaping options, transportation solutions and a series of special buildings and other facilities. My favorite part of the game is always watching those empty lots turn into buildings and seeing them evolve into larger ones.

You also unlock special buildings and landmarks through research and general gameplay. Some of them include the Post Office (to trade online with other players) and interesting landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower or Bowser's Castle. Professor Simtown will show up when you reach one of these milestones to explain the purpose of each building.

Disasters are still present, so now and then you will have to deal with fires, earthquakes, monsters and UFO attacks. These usually involve playing a mini-game, for example tapping the screen to aim missiles at a monster or blowing on the microphone to put out a fire. There is also a cute fireworks mini-game (I believe at the beginning of a new fiscal year) where you get to explode them for extra budget money.

Aside from Build A City, you can also play Save A City, which is the equivalent of a scenario. There has been some sort of disaster and your task is to help the city recover within a set period of time, and usually a tight budget.

The downfalls are the same as Theme Park DS: limited save slots. You can have one Save A City and one Build A City game only at any given time. If you want to start a new city, you must delete the previous one. The saving times are also quite long and not very convenient for what's supposed to be gaming on the go.

Faults aside, I am still pleased with this portable SimCity, since it's a lot like the older PC titles and overall, a good effort at taking the franchise to a different level.