• SimFarm


  • Simulation


  • Maxis


  • Maxis

Release Date:

  • 1992?

Release Date:

  • 1992?

On Wikipedia:


  • Macintosh (other computer versions available)

Crops I Planted On My Initial Run-Through:

  • Tomatoes, lettuce

Original Review Written February 19, 2015

SimFarm was one of the first farming sims available, and long before Zynga stole time (arguably, if anyone playing Farmville on work hours at a government job means Zynga was stealing your tax dollars), identities, and money, there was SimFarm, released circa 1992. SimFarm, if anyone knows their Maxis history, was released in the immediate years behind the smash hit SimCity (the 1989 classic, not the 2013 embarrassment). Unfortunately, like the others: SimLife and SimEarth, SimFarm tends to be pretty dry, and not just because you didn't water.

One of things you'll notice from the get-go is that it starts your date at the current date, so I'm playing it and it's 2015. If you want to not send the date rolling into the distant future, rollback your computer clock just this once, preferably something to the 1990s.

One thing that definitely sets SimFarm apart from SimCity is that once things are settled, you can't just set the clock running to the fastest and leave it alone for a few hours, where your nest egg will develop when you do something more productive: but your crops will get stored in the silo (I'm not sure if they go bad, I don't think they do) while your taxes pile up.

Another interesting feature is that you can pick any place in America to start farming, with simulated wind/temperature/rainfall options for that region. If you're not American (or don't find a perfect place), don't worry, you can make your own settings. However, there is no way to plant every crop possible, much less at the same time.

Once you know what to do, it's not hard to get money rolling in and expand your farm. Unfortunately, it's very slow. It took me several hours on SheepShaver (a system far outpacing SimFarm's original system requirements) on "Ultra" to get even twenty years to pass. I could count the days go by (they're depicted by weather symbols at the top). 7 days, 4 weeks, 12 months, so they're clearly not cutting any corners in modeling the farm days. While that IS shorter than a real year, within just 3 in-game years, you've seen 1000 of those little icons pass by.

The other thing is that it's hard to really lose. I had to waste money and do other stuff to try to make doom come upon me. I was tens of thousands of dollars in debt and all I got were foreclosure warnings in in-game years for non-payment. Eventually, and only through destroying any crop profits through needless roads or buying dozens of cows and letting them free, I was eventually able to drain my funds, force the sale of the homestead and end the game. But it was a very, very long process where I had to do extremely stupid things. This was kind of confusing, it was harder and more tedious than SimCity but harder to lose.

With very few exceptions, there's only one looping track, which sounds pretty good at first but you'll get tired of it soon after. Reading the jewel case (yes, I have the CD) talks about it being "SimCity's Country Cousin", which does have some truth to it since they appear to be built on the same code base. It makes me wish that SimCity and SimFarm had true interoperability--like you could import your existing SimCity file into SimFarm, and had the ability to add crops that way in the shadow of your thriving (or crime-ridden) metropolis, but not be able to edit the city. Meanwhile, SimCity would receive a patch that would interpret SimFarm data. Well, that never happened, and it's too bad that it didn't, because I think I would've liked that better.

2021 Update:

Of all the Sim games that were produced between 1990 and 1996 (that I played), SimFarm was the hardest one to really get into. Sure I played it, but its complexity meant I really just goofed around and added roads and random farm plots, the stuff I used to do with SimCity 2000 before I figured it out, but SimFarm had a much more difficult (and less satisfying) learning curve.

I was able to do a bit more than my dysfunctional run a few years back (see above) but still not much. I had some cotton plants growing (I was down in the Texas area), not trying to make hamburger toppings. I also took care of some cows. The cows were able to grow nice and healthy, eventually increasing (milking?) their value to the point where, at peak, I could net a $715 profit on each head (I had six).

I didn't have a manual indicated that the cows could eventually have a calf to raise for more profit, which despite the relative complexity of the game vastly simplified animal husbandry. Cows are all female, and being a cow means that she has already given birth. They also don't have any milking machines at the farm, that happens after they're sold. Basically, if cattle had more variety, there would be heifers (females before birthing), cows, steers, and a bull. A good overview on cattle husbandry can be seen here.

Not that my successful cattle raising paid off. After a few years (of in-game play, letting the in-game music, of which there was only one track, go on for far too long), with a lot of spraying (apparently all this is done manually with several clicks each and cannot be automated). High winds eventually stripped much of the nutrients of the soil, and I ended up bankrupting myself with fertilizer sprays. An extended drought also hurt the crop, causing more debt upon me. I started in June 2021 (the game's clock picks up from the system's clock) and by February 2024 I was nearly $4000 in debt. Selling my six cows at that point would've netted me almost $6000 to help pay back that glaring loan, but I had no other way of making money.

Even at the fastest speed, the days clicked by, and while the cows appreciated in values and even had four new ones (valued much lower, guess nobody in the SimFarm world eats veal), but some cows did escape. Not that it would've helped my situation much. After selling off the few mature cows left at $1255 each (so much for the other plan), I just kept sinking. By February 2026, my debt had increased to almost $25,000, and the year after that, $40,000. After many of the cows escaped into the fields, they had to be sold (turns out you can't herd cattle back into their pen) but by that time my cattle were next to worthless. Every year got worse, and there's no way to lay low like SimCity to keep everything intact; if you don't have enough money to harvest, the crop dies and you get nothing. By September 2027 I was close to bankruptcy. By December of that year, I had $29 in hand and over $50k in debt. After selling the cows (couldn't afford to feed them anymore), the few remaining pieces of equipment I had (despite sheds, they all rusted away), and I couldn't do anything because I had no credit and no money. In 2028, the bank began to foreclose on the property, and a field was lost permanently. After some reconfiguration, two new fields were planted, but neither was harvested due to lack of funds. As the situation continued to deteriorate, I belatedly realized you couldn't pay down part of your debt. Not that it would've helped much. I prepped a field for demolition to sell but the bank took a different one. Eventually (2030), I was raising two pigs on a tiny plot of land, with "just" $20k in debt.

Pig farming was marginally successful, by March 2031 debt was paid off and 9 pigs were owned (but less than $400 on hand). But when January 2032, I realized the pigs couldn't appreciate enough in value for the taxman, so by that year, there were six pigs and around $200 on hand. My credit was trashed, I couldn't take out much more than $15,000 if I wanted to. Even when I sold off more land to lower my taxes, my taxes were actually raised. It just wasn't possible to repair it, and you get into a death spiral like The Sims except instead of your Sim ultimately dying, the homestead gets sold.

One of the big problems with SimFarm is due to its unpredictability and tediousness, you can't "set it and forget it" like you can with the SimCity games, and I doubt that a windstorm I faced really was the thing that sunk me. Without it, I probably would've still lost money, just at a slower rate...and in this game there are no agricultural exemptions. I didn't understand messages that I needed more roads, either...in SimCity this is fairly obvious but in SimFarm it isn't.

As I mentioned in the old 2015 review, SimFarm has graphics close enough to the original 1989 SimCity that interoperability looks like it could done, and since that review was written, a prototype of SimRefinery, a game made exclusively for Chevron Corporation (though Chevron soon lost interest in the title after release), has surfaced. As only the prototype has been released and incomplete, most of what is seen is pretty in-depth. Probably the closest you can get to that sort of thing is installing a bunch of mods for Factorio that make it super-obtuse.


The box art that was on this page can be seen here.