Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Sim City'

Rating:5 User: jeff_b

I still remember getting a magazine (possibly CRASH!) with an advert for this and thinking they'd made a horrible mistake. Sim City? On the Speccy? Really? But.... Nahh.... isn't that THAT 16-bit game? The posterboy of the 16-bits? The "nyah nyah we've got Populous and SimCity and you've got a duff conversion of Golden Axe and your mother hates you"?

Even more remarkably, when I got my hands on the game (mail order, fancy double case, still somewhat in disbelief it was on the Spectrum...the SPECTRUM!), it was immediately clear that Probe had done a blinder with the port. All the features from the 16-bit machines were present and correct, except the graphically intensive Godzilla disaster. The aim, as if you didn't know, is to develop a booming metropolis starting with a handful of houses. You can zone out areas for business, homes and shops, build all the roads and powerlines, build police stations and hospitals. It's the sort of affair you can lose DAYS to, never mind hours.

And lose days I did. It was one of the few games I would save dutifully to Microdrive of all things (and that went predictably horribly wrong, of course) because I was loath to give up even a second of playing time with poppycock loading. It hooked me horribly, and no incarnation of Simcity since has had quite the same effect. Perhaps it was just because it was hugely original at the time, but Simcity really felt at home on the Spectrum for me. All I see with my Amiga version is chunky resolution, grating sound, that hideous default palette brown and green colours everywhere... it's aged, and badly. Weirdly, the Speccy version hasn't aged a day. Perhaps the very lack of glitz and the workmanlike sprites serves to keep the gameplay undiluted - I'm not sure - but there's infinitely more charm there. And what's more charming than a computer doing something that it wasn't intended to do and really shouldn't be able to? Marvellous.