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SimCity 2000

SimCity 2000 (SC2K) is a simulation/city building computer game and the second installment in the SimCity series. SC2K was first released by Maxis in 1993 for computers running the Apple Macintosh and MS-DOS operating systems. It was later re-released on a number of different platforms, including: Amiga (1994), Microsoft Windows (1995), SNES (1995), Sega Saturn (1995), OS/2 (1996), PlayStation (1996), Nintendo 64 (1998), Pocket PC (1999) and Game Boy Advance (2003).

In 1995, SimCity 2000 won "Best Military or Strategy Computer Game" Origins Award.

Overview

The unexpected and enduring success of the original SimCity, combined with the relative lack of success with other "Sim" titles, finally motivated the development of a sequel. SC2K was a major extension of the concept; the view was now dimetric instead of overhead, land could have different elevations, and underground layers were introduced for water pipes and subways.

New types of facilities included prisons, schools, libraries, museums, marinas, zoos, stadiums, hospitals (although they appeared randomly on residential blocks in the first SimCity, they could not be built by the player) and arcologies. Players could build highways, roads, bus depots, railway tracks, subways, train depots and zone land for seaports and airports. There are a total of nine varieties of power plants in SC2K, including coal, natural gas, wind turbines, hydroelectric dams (which can only be placed on waterfall tiles) and the futuristic fusion power and satellite microwave plant. Most types of power plants have a limited life span and must be rebuilt periodically.

The budget and finance controls are also much more elaborate—tax rates can be set individually for residential, commercial and industrial zones. Enacting city ordinances and connecting to neighbouring cities became possible.

Another new addition in SC2K is the query tool. Using the query tool on tiles reveals information such as structure name and type, altitude, and land value. Certain tiles also display additional information; power plants, for example, display the percentage of power being consumed when queried, and querying roads displays the amount of traffic on that tile. Querying a library and selecting 'Ruminate' displays an essay written by Neil Gaiman.

Graphics were added for buildings under construction in the residential, commercial, and industrial zones, as well as darkened buildings depicting abandoned buildings as a result of urban decay.

News comes in the form of several pre-written newspaper articles with variable names that could either be called up immediately or could be subscribed to on a yearly basis. The newspaper option provided many humorous stories as well as relevant ones, such as new technology, warnings about aging power plant, recent disasters and opinion polls (highlighting city problems). SimCity 2000 is the only game in the entire series to have this feature (besides the discontinued children's version, SimTown), though newer versions have a news ticker. The newspapers had random titles (Times, Post, Herald, etc.), and prices based on the simulated year. Certain newspapers have a special monthly humor advice column by "Miss Sim".

Though there is no "true" victory sequence in SimCity 2000, the "exodus" is a close parallel. An "exodus" occurs during the year 2051 or later, when 250 or more Launch Arcologies are constructed; the following January each one "takes off" into space so that their inhabitants can form new civilizations on distant worlds (although the visual representation of the scene consists of the Arcologies exploding in a manner similar to bulldozed buildings, one by one). This reduces the city's population to those who are not living in the Launch Arcologies, but it also opens wide areas for redevelopment and returns their construction cost to the city treasury. This is related to the event in SimEarth where all cities are moved into rocket-propelled domes that then leave to "found new worlds" (leaving no sentient life behind).

The game also included several playable "scenarios", in which the player must deal with a disaster (in most, but not all scenarios) and rebuild the city to meet a set of victory conditions. These were based in versions of real-life cities, and some were based on real events such as the 1991 Oakland firestorm, the 1989 Hurricane Hugo in Charleston, South Carolina, or dealing with the 1970s economic recession in Flint, Michigan—but also included more fanciful ones such as a "monster" destroying Hollywood in 2001. More scenarios added with the SCURK included a nuclear meltdown in Manhattan.

SimCity 2000 was the first sim game to feature the semi-nonsensical phrase "Reticulating Splines", which means to make a network of splines. Will Wright has stated in an interview that the game does not actually reticulate splines when generating terrain, and he just inserted the phrase because it "sounded cool". The phrase has since been featured in SimCopter, SimCity 4 and The Sims, as well as being referenced humorously by a status message in Mozy, an off-site backup solution offered by EMC Corporation. It is also parodied in the game Spore which features the phrase "Reticulating Spines" in some of its loading screens.

SimCity Urban Renewal Kit

With the release of SC2K came the introduction of a tool called the SimCity Urban Renewal Kit (SCURK). It enabled players to modify the images used in-game to represent various buildings, in much the same manner as general image manipulation software. The player was able to create basic bitmap files of a standard size with a standard 256 color palette. The use of limited palette cycling, which permitted animation, was also possible. A number of pre-altered graphics packages were distributed, including some which replaced the "reward" buildings with images of various well known international buildings, such as the Eiffel Tower, but most buildings were made by fan-artists and shared on the Internet. Several SCURK designs influenced the designs of SimCity 3000s original buildings.

The SCURK is divided into three areas.

  • Paint the Town – A graphics program fashioned to produce custom buildings for SC2K.
  • Pick and Copy – A tileset (building set) modifier, which allows users to produce new tilesets that display specific custom buildings.
  • Place and Print – A sandbox-style city builder with fewer restrictions than SC2K, which also enables users to print cities on paper. The SCURK was also bundled along with Streets of SimCity and SimCopter, as the Place and Print aspect of the program was especially useful for non-SC2K users who intended to build custom cities for either game.

Ports and special editions

SimCity 2000 has been released on a wide range of platforms and version since its debut in 1993, ranging from ports of personal computers and video game consoles, to special editions. SC2K's released ports are as follows:

Platform Release date
(United States)
Release date
(Europe)
Release date
(Japan)
Comments
Acorn Archimedes n/a 1994 n/a Two versions were released simultaneously, one for A5000 machines, the other for the RiscPC.
Amiga n/a 1994 n/a n/a
Game Boy Advance November 13, 2003 November 21, 2003 n/a n/a
Mac OS 1993 1993 n/a re-released in 1995 as SimCity 2000 Special Edition
MS-DOS 1993 1993 n/a re-released in 1995 as SimCity 2000 Special Edition
Nintendo 64 n/a n/a January 30, 1998 See also #SimCity 2000 (Nintendo 64)
PlayStation 1997 1996 December 20, 1996 See also #SimCity 2000 (PlayStation)
Pocket PC November 30, 1999 n/a n/a n/a
Sega Saturn n/a December 8, 1995 September 29, 1995 n/a
SNES December 19, 1996 1996 1995 The SNES version of SimCity 2000 suffered from "toned down" graphics , and was much slower than other ports . It only allowed players one saved game, compared to two from the original SimCity on the SNES, and as many as one's computer could hold on the Mac and PC versions.
Windows February 28, 1995 n/a n/a There were two Windows releases of SimCity 2000. The first release was a 16bit release for Windows 3.x and following the release of Windows 95 a 32bit version was released allowing the user to save cities in the long file name format. The 32bit release will work on later versions of Windows including Windows Vista but not on the 64bit versions of Windows XP or Windows Vista as the installer is 16bit.

SimCity 2000 Special Edition

A re-packaged version of SimCity 2000, SimCity 2000 Special Edition, was released in 1995 for Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows and DOS PCs, partly because the original SimCity 2000 cannot be run under Windows 95, even in prompt mode. In addition to containing SimCity 2000, it also featured the SimCity Urban Renewal Kit, new cities selected by Maxis from a 1994 competition, additional scenarios, and movies. The movies were a first for Maxis; SC2K-SE was the first "Sim" game to feature "real" videos (compared to "animated bitmaps", such as the winning screen in SimAnt). These videos included the introduction movie and four commentary videos by Will Wright; the latter were accessed via the "WillTV" application that came with the game.

SimCity 2000 Network Edition

A network version of the game, SimCity 2000: Network Edition was released in 1996 for both Macintosh and Windows.

The network edition had the ability to share in-game resources and to compete or cooperate with other cities. If the user is on an appropriate network (TCP or IPX), then SimCity 2000 Network Edition works in a similar way to SimCity 4, giving the ability to cooperate with other cities (for example, by trading electricity for money, and vice-versa).

SimCity 2000 Network Edition featured slightly different gameplay in network mode, where mayors may start with more money, but must buy land before building upon it.

This version also features a revamped user interface. Instead of a static toolbar, items are accessed via cascading menus from the right of the screen, resulting in more screen real-estate for SimCity itself, without sacrificing functionality.

SimCity 2000 (PlayStation)

The PlayStation version of the game remains largely unchanged (although the game's directions for getting help is to press alt+shift, which is only possible using a computer keyboard). The only additions are scenarios, including one that involves a new volcano forming in Vancouver (destroying most of the city, and requiring the mayor to rebuild it). The port also allows the player to tour their city from a car's perspective and has a full motion video intro.

SimCity 2000 (Nintendo 64)

A Japan-only release of SimCity 2000 for the Nintendo 64 in 1997, produced and published by Imagineer Co., Ltd., featured some additional features, mainly minigames, a dating game, horse races and monster breeding, among others, all of them in 3D. A few new "natural" disasters were also included, most of them being giant monster attacks (players were able to use their monster to fight against them). Even when these extras gave the game a lot more to do, many consider it lost the original feeling of the game, since the extras were intended to appeal specifically to the Japanese market.

SimCity 64 (Nintendo 64DD)

Another Japan-only release, SimCity 64 was based on the SimCity 2000 game but was heavily customized for the Nintendo 64DD game system. The ability to view the city at night was added, pedestrian level free-roaming of a city, and individual road vehicles and pedestrians controlled by their own AI wandered the players city. Cities in the game are also presented in much more advanced 3D graphics, making SimCity 64 the first true 3D SimCity game.

Subsequent releases based on SC2K

  • SimHealth – Released in 1994, the game simulated President Bill Clinton's healthcare reform proposals for the US; designed for a niche audience at best, the simulation never achieved great popularity. It featured a user interface that resembled a city in SimCity 2000.
  • SimCopter – A flight simulator based on the cities of SimCity 2000, SimCopter, was published in 1996. It had the capability of importing SC2K cities and allowing the user to pilot a helicopter around them and accomplish missions such as rescuing people or putting out a fire. Reviewers of the time pretty much agreed that the game was an interesting idea, but once the novelty wore off players were stuck piloting a helicopter around a hideously ugly land, with very little to actually do. SimCopter was perhaps best known for a rather notorious Easter egg which, if successfully triggered, depicted scantily clad men in a homosexually provocative state. Due to the uproar, this "feature" was patched over in a future release.
  • Streets of SimCity – Published in 1997, Streets of SimCity was a racing game based on the SimCopter engine. In addition to racing, it also featured courier missions and vehicular combat. However, the fact that this game was incredibly processor-intensive (slowing to a crawl on the Pentium II microprocessors of the day) prevented this game from being a commercial success.
  • However, despite the lukewarm reception of each, both SimCopter and Streets of SimCity later inspired the feature "U-Drive-It" from the SimCity 4: Rush Hour expansion pack.

References

External links

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