• SimCity 2000


  • Simulation


  • Maxis


  • Maxis

Release Date:

  • 1993

On Wikipedia:


  • Macintosh, some DOS


  • Reticulating

I'd like to begin by explaining that the old version of this review was basically a slightly updated version of a blog I had that was a predecessor to the site, evenings with (old) games, which also shows the old thumbnail to this one (which looks like mud). Naturally, I still do want to carry over a few things so there will be similarities.

I've been playing SimCity 2000 on and off ever since my brother got it in August 1995 (and we had a new *color* computer to run it on). SimCity 2000 is technically the "sequel" to 1989's SimCity but it blows it away in so many categories. A lot of the code base is still there (and gives it some backwards compatibility) but it's a massive improvement by a total, top-to-bottom graphical re-do with an isometric view, elevation, whole new systems modeling education and health...the list goes on. Some of my more recent thoughts (well, before making a whole mini-site for the game, more on that later) can be seen at this page where I also first reviewed Cities: Skylines (that was a disappointment) and SimCity 3000, specifically SimCity 3000 Unlimited (more on that later).

I'm never sure if SimCity 2000 or SimCity 4 is the better game but I'll give the nod to SimCity 2000 on being more of a complete game and the crisp pixel art never seems to want more. With SimCity 4 you always get bored and start searching for more "real life" buildings...but with SimCity 2000 it works because your brain will fill in the rest of the details. Now, I grew up in Texas (SimCity 2000 is very California-inspired) and felt at home with the graphics, because I could identify with the nicer houses (they aren't gaudy mansions, they're cool two-story houses with swimming pools) and the apartment complexes alike (not so much the office buildings, but a trip down Northwest Freeway in Houston was closer to that ideal.

The Microwave Power Plant: A theoretical power source
that people are still discussing 20+ years later.

It's a shame that the only commercial version of SimCity 2000 that you can legally buy is the DOS version, which is awful if you're used to the Mac version. The 1.1 and 1.2 updates brought numerous features (launching Launch Arcos, the African Swallow speed, etc.), which the DOS version does not have, the resolution is much lower. The Mac version is 800 x 600 (by default, can go higher) while the DOS version puffs along at a fixed 640 x 480. The music is terrible with the wheezy SoundBlaster and only with an expensive Roland MT-32 system can you get something that sounds anything remotely close to the Mac version.

One of the features that the CD version of the game has is "WillTV" on the CD-ROM. These were short interview clips of Will Wright. If you check out the link (someone uploaded them to YouTube), there's the implication of something great: the future ability of Maxis products to create an entire "world" by having products that focus on a single component to build something larger, something greater. This was partially implemented in future games with some cross-compatibility between SimCity 4, The Sims, and The Sims 2 but even in the pre-EA days that only saw use with SimCopter and Streets of SimCity, both of those turned out to be both forgotten games limited by time and budget.

A zoomed-out city showing a reinforced highway bridge.

Anyway, while SimCity 2000 is more complete than the games that followed, I think the game would've greatly benefitted from a "Version 1.3" or full "2.0" release, as there are still a few odd bugs I've found--sometimes tiles would not cooperate properly (couldn't be queried or built on, only affected by adjacent tiles), the total number of dispatches only have a set number (which doesn't seem to be consistent), and can't be sent back if you need more fire trucks (or whatever), as well QoL upgrades that would've been helpful (like letting parks carry power, which they don't)...and maybe throwing in something else would be nice.

As part of this site's reconstruction to feature the Exor's Dungeon site-within-a-site, I built a SimCity 2000 mini-website (I guess that would make it a site-within-a-site-within-a-site?) which you can check out here. This features a number of other things that you should definitely check out, including "The SimCity 2000 Newspaper Project", information on microsims, tips & tricks, instruments used in the Mac version of the game, and a lot more.