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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Pocket PC games

SimCity 2000, by ZIO Interactive, $29.95
Reviewed July 2002

For the young and the furious, SimCity 2000 could be an ambitious game: imagine someone asking you “what did you do today?” and you answer, “I built a city!” But for the rest of us, SimCity 2000 satisfies our sense of nostalgia. Ported from the PC to Pocket PC by ZIO Interactive, SimCity 2000 brings back memories of the long running classic hit with exact game play and very familiar graphics and terrain layouts.

To the newbies, SimCity is a goal-based simulation game that allows you to build the city of your dreams. You are given a terrain, often mixed with hills, valleys, river or seaports and money to build industrial, residential and commercial areas. Almost everything in SimCity is built in these three zones. Once you’ve selected a piece of terrain and decided on the best things to build on it, you can start building the city and attracting inhabitants. Pretty soon, you will see traffic going on the streets; warehouses and factories growing, and as more people being employed; shopping malls and banks appearing in the commercial zone…your city is alive!

Your veterans should be happy to see the financial and planning stats feature has been ported faithfully to the Pocket PC version. At the top of the game screen, you’ll find a string of icons that take you to the population screen with health and education info, the city info, the SimNation info, yearly graph on city size, residents, commerce, traffic, city industry graph, budget and much more.

Although there is no limit to how far you can go in building a city, there are some restrictions and therefore some basic strategies you should follow. Otherwise it’s not easy to attract inhabitants and keep the city growing. For instance, when you build power plants, make sure they are far away from the residential areas. When you build downtown or industrial area, make sure you build roads and highways to connect them with the condos and homes. Make sure you read the daily news so that you know what the Sims in your city want and tweak your strategies in building the city base on their feedback. It’s a bit tough getting things started, but if you follow the right strategy, the city will grow on its own in no time.

SimCity 2000 offers various levels and great flexibility in game play, which I think is one of the best features in this game. Anyone can play SimCity, but not everyone wants to take risks. This game gives you a wide spectrum of choices to build the city at your own speed, your own taste and how much risk you are willing to take. If you are new to the game, you can be conservative with your money and take small steps in your building plan. If you are a master of SimCity and like a challenge, you can add natural disasters, riots and other tough situations to your city management. You can start with $20K cash or $10K Bond. You can build a city in 1900, 1950, 2000 or 2050. You can literally build a city in a day, or you can take many weeks to plan and build the structures. If you are a fan of finance, you can experiment with budget, taxes, growth rates, etc.

The graphics are sharp on the Pocket PC, and kept the style of the PC version. Not only will you see different shapes and colors of structures and various terrain, but you’ll also see some very cool animations after the city is alive and growing: the smoke from the factory chimney, the cars on the street, the flashing lights in the commercial district, etc.. The screen of the Pocket PC is obviously smaller than a PC screen, so you won’t see your city in as large a scale with huge details. When you build a large structure (like a power plant or a ballpark) it’s hard sometimes to gage the size of the structure compare to the zone area. But none of these small annoyances will get in the way of game play.

Sound effects are plentiful and the music tracks are cute. You will enjoy most of the sound effects that you are used to on the PC in this Pocket PC version. The music is cheery to start the game and you can turn it off if it distracts your concentration. The game takes up 4MB of memory and supports ARM, MIPS and SH3.

Playing Hints and Tips

Rely on your common sense when you face hard decisions, after all this is your city to build. Don’t spend all your money at once in the beginning cause it might take a while for people to move in and start to pay taxes. Don’t take out too much in bonds since you have to pay back. Don’t make the tax increase rate too high in short period of time. People will get unhappy. Take up the newspaper subscription so that you can keep track of people’s feedback.

SimCity 2000 screen shot

SimCity 2000 screen shot


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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics ZIO did an amazing job porting the graphics of both city structures and the terrain. The animation is a big bonus.
Sound Lots of sound bites, fits very well with the game play. Music is nice.
Fun Meter If you are a Sim-fan, you are in for a treat. The game play is perfect for the Pocket PC users who might have only a few minutes or few hours to play a game.
Addictivity Because the game has virtually no ending, you can play it for a long time. The different scenarios, several difficulty levels, risk factors and different game strategies all add depth to the game.

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