SimCity Deluxe Review

SimCity is dead. Long live SimCity Deluxe! For some reason EA saw fit to remove the original SimCity from the App Store and replace it with SimCity Deluxe. So is Deluxe a worthy successor to the original, or is it a phoned-in rehash?

SimCity is a 21-year-old franchise built on freedom and creativity. Your job is to build a city from the ground up, to attract residents, commerce, and industry, and to keep your citizens happy, healthy, and educated, all while maintaining a balanced budget. Problems pop up everywhere you turn, from petitioning locals to natural disasters. How you oversee the place is your choice. You can try to run your metropolis like a well-oiled machine, or you can run it into the ground in a spiral of debt, crime, and illiteracy.

Get probed.

SimCity Deluxe may not have all of the details of some of its computer counterparts, but don’t purchase this game expecting a dumbed-down version of the game. The developer has done an admirable job of shrinking tons of content down to fit onto the iPhone’s 3.5 inch screen.

But with the shrinking comes compromises. Since nearly everything you do in SimCity requires you to navigate detailed menus, they had to find a way to fit all of the options on the tiny screen. The solution they came up with is to use icons– tons of icons. The icons are small and unlabeled, so if you’re not familiar with the game it’s going to take some time and experimenting before you’ll feel comfortable in the game. The tutorial is helpful but not really adequate, although you can talk to your advisers at any time to receive briefings on the deeper aspects of the game.

Autumn in New York.

Once you do figure out how to lay down water pipes, view the various overlays, and discuss your budget with a financial adviser, you’ll have fun doing it. And unlike the original SimCity on the iPhone, Deluxe has scenarios built in, so you’re not limited to building and maintaining a city with no goal in mind.

Seven scenarios are included in the game, with objectives like preparing your city to host the 2012 World Games, saving your citizens from a massive heat wave, and cleaning up after a heavy meteor shower has rained destruction on your city. When you start a scenario, you’re given a pre-built city, so you don’t have to start from scratch each time. The scenarios come in easy, medium, and hard difficulty levels.

SimCity Deluxe is a huge game with a similarly large learning curve. The main thing that holds it back from being an ideal version of the beloved franchise is the iPhone’s screen size. Short of EA porting it to the iPad (which is happening sometime this summer), there’s no getting around that for the time being. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to adapt to the game’s user interface, you’ll be rewarded with a fun, meaty gaming experience. If you’re just looking for a way to pass the time waiting for an elevator, look elsewhere.

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