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June 2007



- Will remind old-time fans of how much SimCity can be

- Developers did a good job of cramming a massive game into a handheld



- One save slot.  One!

- Tiny text and complexity takes some learning

- Touch mini-games add nothing to the experience



Review: SimCity 4 (PC)

Review: Age of Empires: Age of Kings (DS)

Review: Advance Wars: Dual Strike (DS)



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SimCity DS

Score: 6.5 / 10


simcity ds          simcity ds


There are video games out there that rekindle the desire to revisit older games.  After playing a lot of John Woo’s Stranglehold at E3, I had a yearning to go back and play the Max Payne games.  The same thing happened with SimCity DS – it reminded me how much I liked playing the SimCity games, which offer the chance to just muck around with creating a city – roads to nowhere, massive blocks of hi-density residential zones, dropping parks all over, creating light rail that goes nowhere; the kind of simple fun that can be had from just creating something and letting it loose still has a strong appeal.





- Simulation Game Reviews

- Games Published by Electronic Arts

Though the developers have done an admirable job stripping out some of the complexity and management duties to streamline the SimCity experience on DS, SimCity DS still feels over-complicated for a handheld game, at least in the initial phases when getting used to the fixed perspective, small menus and maps, and constant interruptions by the city advisor.



The lower screen is where all the magic happens.  Use of the stylus is absolutely necessary as everything from creating residential/commercial/industrial zones to placing specific structures like schools and the all-important Mayor’s House.  It takes a couple hours of muddling to fully appreciate all the options that are available.  And there are a lot of options.  The fact that they’re all crammed onto the touchscreen means a lot of squinting at tiny text and correcting mistakenly placed items.  But the freedom to create is still there – this still feels a lot like SimCity.


simcity ds          simcity ds


The real kick to the joy center is that only one save file can exist.  This absolutely astounds me.  I spent almost three hours grooming my metropolis as I waited for a flight.  Once at cruising altitude I decided to try one of the pre-set disaster scenarios where you’re brought in to clean up a city after a flood or fire or alien invasion.  An hour in to the scenario I saved my progress which then obliterated my saved city.  This is mind-boggling!  I’m sure there are technical limitations that necessitated this but at a minimum the number of save slots should have been three!  It also takes an inordinate amount of time to actually save the file, upwards of 30 or 40 seconds, which is amazing for a cartridge-based game.


There is some wi-fi functionality built into the game but it seems to be pretty limited – you can send letters to other Mayors – and unfortunately I never got to try it out.


All things considered, SimCity may have just been too big to fit on a handheld.  That said, if you can cope with the limitation of one save slot and some small text and graphics, SimCity DS might be worth it check out.


- Omni

(August 2, 2007)


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