"There’s so few schools here that kids just keep getting stupider."
When I hear the phrase “video game”, my mind usually goes to the most fantastic places imaginable. I’m talking about a galaxy far, far away: Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp or the Mushroom Kingdom. In these places, the crap we have to deal with in everyday life (picture Link having to pay his rent before he goes to kick Gannon’s ass) is largely insignificant. As long as I have some arrows in my quiver and some rupees in my pocket, I’m good to go. I don’t even have to worry about eating, sleeping, or bathing. There’s only adventure.
[image1]And isn’t that the point of video games? To escape our everyday lives? To get away from the boring, repetitive nature of living in a repressed, capitalist society? Anyone who disagrees with me should have a look at the flip side: take, for example, a game that involves zero creativity and performing the same tasks over and over again. I’m talking, of course, about SimCity Creator for the DS.
I really want to hate this game. It’s boring, repetitive, and pointless. Unfortunately, these things aren’t enough to make the game bad, just average. The game actually works (mostly) from a technical perspective. The game progresses the way a SimCity game should: You start with a single road and residential zone and by the end you have a sprawling metropolis. The different zones, facilities, and services you can build are actually detailed and realistic; it makes me wish I was playing a proper SimCity game so I could just be creative.
You can zone for residential, commercial, and industry in low, medium, and high densities, allowing for a bit more customization than before. As far as individual facilities go, you can build police and fire stations, hospitals, and schools, as well as power plants, water towers, farms, and for some strange reason, temples.
And that’s pretty much where the good ends. Even though the game technically works, that doesn’t make it in any way interesting. You build the same ten things over and over again. Then your whiny little Sim people have a riot or some disaster and destroy six square blocks and you get to build it all over again.
[image2]Oh yeah, and the people in your city can talk, and they manifest themselves in two different ways: either little restroom-door people or overly-cute, creepy anime characters. And they bitch and moan in poorly translated English (note the title of this article) about how they’re sick and poor and I’m like, “Get a goddamn JOB! I’m bustin’ my ass running this friggin’ city and all you do is start a riot and knock it all down because you don’t like foreigners!” Yeah, that’s right, your citizens are xenophobes. If you allow foreigners into your city, they riot. Really.
So, why did I just spend an entire paragraph ranting about Sim people? Because they don’t matter. All the things that have been added don’t do anything to make the game play experience better or more interesting. It’s still just bland and stale. Even the music is repetitive and if you build your city with the Asian flavor like I did (you can also choose a European flavor, but who cares), you listen to the same generic, ching-chong elevator crap on a loop for hours. Just turn the sound off.
Even the controls are mediocre. You would think the stylus would work perfectly for SimCity but for some reason, it’s occasionally imprecise. You’ll aim to drop a building on one square and it’ll end up on the one next to it (or sometimes two squares away, if the Sim gods really hate you that day). Fortunately, there’s an undo button (which you then may have to hit two or three times before it works), but if you accidentally bulldoze something, you’re screwed because that can’t be undone. I lost more than one building to crappy controls.
You also can’t choose a map. The game just drops you randomly on one. Why can’t I pick my own terrain? Even on the original SimCity on SNES you could choose what map to play on, and you can’t do it here? Also, you can’t summon a disaster whenever you want. What?! It doesn’t even feel like SimCity if I can’t summon Godzilla to unleash a pack of destruction whenever the hell I want. And then, there’s this little guy that keeps showing up and asking me for donations for his temple. I donated to him but nothing happened. So what, I just blew fifty grand for no reason? Ugh…
[image3]Finally, my biggest gripe with this game lies in what is supposed to be the core of the gameplay: the progression through the ages. I guess it’s supposed to be interesting and different, but it’s not. It’s just pointless. Instead of having a new experience, I just have to make room for power plants and run power lines through my entire city because my people “technologically progressed”. Why couldn’t I just build them at the beginning? A power plant should be the first thing on your map. Honestly, half the time it feels like I’m undoing half of my work in order to progress. See, that’s a sign a game is boring: I call it “work”.
Like I said, I really want to hate this game but frankly, it’s not bad enough for me to hate. It’s so generically solid that I really can’t tear into it much; I can only be nitpicky about little, annoying things. However, this doesn’t make it in any way good. It’s still a boring waste of time. Save yourself the tedium and dust off your old copy of SimCity2000 if you still have a machine that can run it.