Opinion: SimCity for iPhone/iPod Touch is worth $9.99


I downloaded, installed, and played SimCity on my first-generation iPod Touch earlier today and I can tell you that, yes, it’s worth $9.99 if you like the SimCity series of games. I’m a big fan of the franchise, especially SimCity 3000, and the iPhone/iPod Touch version is basically a shrunken down version of SC3K with a few changes.

Interface and Gameplay

Great. About as well as could be expected on a 3.5-inch screen. Zooming works really well with the pinching and the pulling and the hey, hey, hey, and the large icons on the left hand side of the screen are relatively intuitive.

Laying down roads and zones and whatnot consists of first drawing out a general box or line with your finger and then tweaking it and moving it before confirming its placement. That’s good since you’d otherwise have to zoom in super close to get your roads just how you like them.

The music is surprisingly calming and non-intrusive. It’s a psycho-erotic thriller full of jazzy slow-jams and adult contemporary instrumentals. Kind of like what you’d hear in a high end furniture store. There are a handful of tracks that cycle through.

My iPod Touch did an admirable job of keeping everything moving along at a respectable clip – no noticeable slowdowns or glitches for me, although looking at the user comments on the application, there were/are apparently quite a few bugs for some people. I didn’t have any problems, although I did wait for a few days until after the game was released to download it. In fact, I tried to download it yesterday but I got a message saying it wasn’t compatible with my iPod. Say what, Apple? You crazy.

What’s Missing?

No diagonals! Why, God, whyyyy?!! Streets and pipes are strictly right-angle affairs in this one. Odd, since my finger is able to move diagonally. This really limits how you can lay out your city and is one of the most glaring omissions I’ve noticed.

Speaking of laying out your city; the actual area is pretty small. I’d completely saturated New Dougland in about an hour. There were people everywhere and it was only 1902! Also, you’re limited to finessing just the trees and the water when you start a new city – no terrain stuff, so hills and valleys are nowhere to be found.

Finally, plan on a bit more self-sufficiency this go-around, as you don’t connect roads or rail lines to your neighbors, nor do you make business deals with them. You can still build airports and seaports, but you never actually interact with your neighbors.

Not a huge deal, in my opinion, since that mostly consists of some yay-hoo asking New Dougland to store his city’s garbage or overcharging New Dougland for storing our garbage in his city, followed by one of New Dougland’s whistle-blowing watchdog groups complaining that we’re either stinking up the city or wasting money. It’s never good enough for you people, is it?! Now I know how Al Swearengen felt. You build a city with your bare hands and all the hoopleheads do is complain all day long!

Fun Factor and Value

If you’re a fan of SimCity, especially SimCity 3000, this is about as close as you’ll get to it without lugging around a laptop. I have the Nintendo DS version, as well, and I already prefer the iPod Touch one better. Plus, at $9.99, it was much cheaper.

SimCity for iPhone/iPod Touch [opens iTunes]