I got a copy of Electonic Art’s SimCity DS and I’ve mostly been playing around with the “save the city” mode. Instead of worrying about building a city and planning ordinances you jump right into a partially built city… after a disaster took place. Some of the scenarios on the map are saving Hokkaido after UFOs attack it and fixing a traffic problem in a busy city. I started out trying the scenario after a giant ape attacks.
Disappointing moment, you don’t actually see a King Kong clone stomp on the city. All you see if the newspaper heading and then the aftermath of destruction. The goal is to get the city back in shape and raise $200,000 in ten years. If you run out of cash or fail to complete it in time it’s game over. The first thing to do is pave down some of the destroyed space with the bulldozer and re-zone it. On the top screen you can see your city, but it isn’t as animated as other SimCity titles. Even when you zoom in you can’t see people walking around or cars. You control where you’re looking by moving a window on the touch screen. When you want to edit your city the game automatically pauses and you can place hospitals, set areas for development (residential / commercial / industrial) or build power plants. The touch screen control works well with SimCity DS. It’s easy to select spaces and drawing roads is easier than using a mouse.
SimCity DS has plenty of graphs to track your progress and an easy budget planner to tell you how much money you’re making or losing. Money is actually the problem in SimCity DS it doesn’t come quick enough. You can fast forward time slightly, but you’re going to have to wait a couple of minutes before you get your small boost of cash before you can do anything. Unlike other SimCity games you can watch the flow of traffic or spy on your citizens. You’re stuck watching the city do… nothing. It sort of takes away from the experience, but on the plus side Will Wright (called Mr. Maxis in the game) is around to give you tips. You can click on him and he will remind you of the goal. Since it takes a while to build up $200,000 from a broken city it feels like you’re spending more time waiting than playing the game. The flow is like this: draw zoning areas and roads, spend your money and wait five minutes to get your next influx of cash. Rinse, repeat. Perhaps things will be different in the main game where you start at 1900 and build a city from the ground up.