SimCity 2000

The Intro

The Game

The Replay

The Verdict

The Intro

Title: SimCity 2000

Release year: 1993

Developed by: Maxis

Genre: Simulation

Platform replayed on: PC


Isn’t that what simulation builder games are really all about? You get to create and tenancy whichever type of sandbox you’re in.

But creating is one thing; executive your megacosm is quite flipside altogether.

Will I be worldly-wise to remember how to build a municipality from the ground up (literally) and run it successfully for 150 years? It’s been a long time since I’ve played SimCity 2000—probably not plane since its eponymous year 2000 (which itself seems a long time ago…).

SimCity 2000 landscaping
Limitless possibilities

My first memory of the SimCity series was with the original: SimCity. I remember a friend having it in the early 90s, though I can’t recall which platform we played it on.

SimCity 1989
SimCity (1989)
Image by Luiz Pacheco via MobyGames

It wasn’t until virtually the time SimCity 2000 was released that I really started to explore the series. At that time, we used to rent video games. We could rent Nintendo and Sega consoles and games from the video store (remember those?), but there were moreover some specialist stores for hiring PC games. I remember a couple of physical stores, where you could scan all the big-box PC games in all their glory—I was like the clichéd “kid in a snacks store”. There was moreover a mail order service (pre-Internet!), where you could select games from a catalogue, send an order form, and then wait by the letterbox for a few weeks (it’s tabbed snail mail for a reason).

The reason I mention these PC-game hiring services is that I distinctly recall the “Sim” games misogynist at the time. I say “Sim”, as it wasn’t just cities that were stuff simulated. I remember SimAnt (1991) and SimLife (1992) among scrutinizingly twenty “Sim” games ripened by Maxis in the 90s.

SimAnt and SimLife
When games started stuff made for Windows in the early 90s.

I can’t recall exactly when I played SimCity 2000, but I know I must have hired it out at some stage in the mid-90s.

But what exactly is SimCity 2000? Let’s load it up and find out.

The Game

Well, maybe loading this game up isn’t the weightier way to start. You see, SimCity 2000 is a city-builder simulation, and it’s quite complex.

SimCity 2000 zoomed out view of a city
There’s a lot going on lanugo there.

Back in the 90s, games didn’t full-length in-game tutorials; they included manuals. And I’m talking well-nigh hard-copy manuals here.

SimCity 2000 manual
That’s a real book.

You didn’t learn SimCity 2000 by playing it; you learned by reading a manual. Thankfully, the transmission included with SimCity 2000 features tutorials to get your municipality up and running.

Once you have your municipality established, where to next? The rencontre in a city-builder simulation is the balancing act of managing income and expenditure so your municipality remains solvent, while at the same time providing and maintaining an environment which keeps your populace happy, healthy, and safe.

Simple, right? Let’s just say that as in real life, a utopian fantasy remains just that in SimCity 2000: a fantasy. It’s a numbers game: alimony the majority happy most of the time.

SimCity 2000 Washington DC
It’s all well-nigh the politics.

Once you’re well-appointed with towers and running a city, SimCity 2000 moreover provides some custom scenarios. In these scenarios, you are tested with how well you can solve a problem or recover from a disaster. There are plenty of them, from natural disasters to wayfarer invasions.

SimCity 2000 scenario selection
Scenario menu

To get started with a standard municipality build, you can customise your starting landscape, as well as your starting financial position and starting year.

Your municipality is then established, and then you’re on your own to determine its destiny.

SimCity 2000 difficulty selection
Do you start with a large surplus, a small surplus, or in debt? You’re the mayor—you decide.

The nuts of getting started in SimCity 2000 are zoning, electricity, and water.

And roads are a good idea, too.

SimCity 2000 zoning and towers roads
On a road to nowhere…yet.

You’ll need to be worldly-wise to power your population with electricity, and alimony them hydrated.

SimCity 2000 power plant selection
Need increasingly power
SimCity 2000 underground pipe network
Underground pipe network

Zoning is divided into three types: industrial, commercial, and residential. Essentially, areas to work, shop, and live. Each zone type is remoter split into light and heavy. For example, heavy residential is for high-density housing such as apartments, where light residential will be increasingly suburban.

SimCity 2000 residential and industrial zoning
Some residential (green) and industrial (yellow) zones

As your municipality matures and the population increases, your citizens will start taxing increasingly services. These include policing, fire service, medical services, and education.

SimCity 2000 a small city
Police station, fire station, hospital, school, college—this little municipality has them all.

Eventually, your citizens will plane want to be entertained and have fun!

SimCity 2000 stadium
Local sports stadium

But it’s not all fun and games—each year you will need to squatter the budget.

SimCity 2000 upkeep screen
Balancing the books

If you want to realise your utopian dreams in SimCity 2000, you will need to thoughtfully wastefulness how much to tax and how much to spend.

SimCity 2000 the tax adviser
Nobody likes the taxman—he gets booed every time you click on him.

And if you think managing your municipality has wilt mundane or, dare I say it, easy, you can unchangingly take tenancy of mother nature and throw a disaster upon your citizens.

SimCity 2000 wayfarer invasion
That’s not mother nature—that’s an wayfarer invasion!

A clichéd expression for simulations, but the possibilities are endless.

So how was I going to focus this replay of SimCity 2000 to ensure I didn’t end up going lanugo uncounted tangents? Let’s take a look.

The Replay

I wanted to set some ground rules for how I was going to tideway SimCity 2000 without all these years. I decided upon the following:

  • random map, no customising the landscape
  • start in 1900 (the primeval start point)
  • easy mode (start with $20,000)
  • disasters left on (they can be disabled)
  • no reloads
  • play through until at least 2050

I think most of those are self-explanatory. I remember when I first played this I used to flatten the unshortened map so I didn’t have to deal with elevation. This time, I decided to “play it as it lies”. I moreover thought I’d leave myself to the mercy of random disasters, where I unchangingly used to turn this off.

And with that, let’s found a city!

SimCity 2000 newspaper headline announcing the founding of a new city
Presentville comes to life!

Let’s take a squint at the hand I was dealt.

SimCity 2000 a new map zoomed out
No flatlands!

As you can see, Presentville is quite undulating. The first visualization then is where I should start zoning. I thought a unappetizing piece of land would be best.

SimCity 2000 a new map zoomed in
Maybe on this side of the river in the valley?

Here goes nothing—let’s get zoning!

SimCity 2000 industrial and residential zoning
Time to get industrial (yellow zone) and residential (green zone).

With the zoning down, it was time to build a power plant and some underground water pipes.

SimCity 2000 towers a power plant
Oil power plant and power lines
SimCity 2000 underground water pipes
Laying the underground water pipes.

Success! By April 1900 I had my first residents moving in.

SimCity 2000 luxury homes
Luxury homes!

Industry followed, with construction well under way by 1901.

SimCity 2000 construction
The rise of industry

By 1902, it was starting to squint like a small town. There was now demand for commercial zoning, and a denomination had once been established!

SimCity 2000 church
Organised religion moves in.

All seemed to be going well, but I was self-glorification through all of my $20,000 initial funding. By 1903, I had built a railway, a underpass over the river, and unfluctuating Presentville by road to two of the four neighbouring cities.

SimCity 2000 zoomed out view of the underpass and the intercity railway
It’s starting to squint like a city!

The residents were now taxing police and fire protection. Without towers stations to protect and to serve, I was lanugo to $1,500. Tough decisions would need to be made soon.

SimCity 2000 police station
The citizens demand protection—the mayor delivers.
SimCity 2000 fire station
The fire station goes up in a newly zoned zone east of the city.

I needed to turn my upkeep deficits into upkeep surpluses, so it was either reduce expenditure, increase property taxes, or a combination of the two.

SimCity 2000 budget
Time to cut funding

It was here that I made a mistake that I remembered in retrospect that you just can’t make in SimCity 2000: I reduced funding to the transit authority. Basically, I decreased spending on road and rail maintenance. When I soon started noticing forfeiture on my road and rail networks, I realised my mistake.

SimCity 2000 damaged roads and rails
Notice some of the roads and rails are damaged.

So I could get yonder with reducing police department and fire department spending, but if I didn’t want to protract repairing my roads and rails, I would need to alimony the transit validity fully funded. Lesson re-learned!

It wasn’t all bad news though—Presentville had now reached a population of 2,000.

SimCity 2000 newspaper announcing the population has reached 2,000
Presentville Awakens!!

I was moreover stuff rewarded for this achievement.

SimCity 2000 mayor's house
67% clearance rating!

It was at this point where I started experimenting with the municipality ordinances tab in SimCity 2000. Here, you can uplift your income with sales and income taxes, parking fines, and plane legalised gambling. You can moreover introduce various initiatives wideness education, health and safety, advertising, and the environment. These add to the overall image and quality of life in your city. These include initiatives such as pro-reading campaigns, self-ruling clinics, tourist advertising, and pollution controls. I wanted to set a upper standard for Presentville from the start, so as you can see below, I implemented most of these initiatives.

SimCity 2000 municipality ordinances
Lots of options for quality of life and spare revenue in your city

Now, the mistake I made whilom with the transit validity funding was minor compared to the next one I was well-nigh to make.

I issued a $10k bond.

SimCity 2000 issuing a bond
Desperate times undeniability for drastic measures.

In the short term, there was growth, as I expanded Presentville to meet the demand for remoter residential and industrial zones.

SimCity 2000 growing residential zones
Expanding residential zones

However, it wasn’t long surpassing the yearly yoke repayments started to cripple my budget.

SimCity 2000 budget
Those yoke repayments—ouch!

I issued the yoke in 1907, and by 1912 Presentville was broke. It was whence to squint like my replay of SimCity 2000 might be coming to a very quick end…

SimCity 2000 expanding residential and industrial zones
$300 left in the bank…

Compared to my neighbours, Presentville was still the most popular place to live, and the expansion had been a success. But until I paid off that bond, growth would stagnate as I didn’t have the funding room in the upkeep to do anything.

I increased property taxes for the first time to start running a upkeep surplus, so I could save up unbearable to pay off the bond.

SimCity 2000 budget
Increasing property taxes

It took me until 1949 until I had unbearable to make the repayment. There was just one problem.

SimCity 2000 newspaper announcing the power plant is nearing the end of its life
The power plant is gonna blow!

The Presentville power plant was nearing the end of its life! This was flipside SimCity 2000 detail I had forgotten about. I couldn’t believe it. I was finally ready to rid the municipality of the crippling yoke repayments, but I needed to purchase a new power plant.

Eventually, the old power plant had had enough.

SimCity 2000 power plant exploding

I wanted to unshut flipside oil power plant, but instead had to go with the cheaper coal power plant. The environment would pay the price for my mishandling of the upkeep all these years.

SimCity 2000 selecting a new power plant

Finally, in 1962, 55 years without issuing the bond, I paid it off.

SimCity 2000 paying off a bond

Free of debt, Presentville began to grow. In 1969, the population hit 10,000, and a municipality hall was granted. There was moreover unbearable money for that zoo that had been in demand since the 1920s.

SimCity 2000 town hall and zoo
A unconfined way to gloat 10,000 residents: towers a town hall and a zoo!

It felt like I had a fresh start now, so it was time for expansion. I found a nice little piece of unappetizing land to the south, and zoned for the highly in demand residential and commercial zones.

SimCity 2000 new residential and commercial zones
New neighbourhood!

By the early 80s, the new neighbourhood was flourishing.

SimCity 2000 new residential and commercial zones
An extremely popular new neighbourhood!

However, in order to really expand, I knew I had to navigate the river. By the late 80s, I had zoned for residential and industrial construction, but nothing happened. I thought subtracting a marina and a library might make the residential zone increasingly attractive.

SimCity 2000 marina and library
The city’s first marina and library were not unbearable to convince people to move over the river.
SimCity 2000 new residential and industrial zones
Perhaps people don’t like the factory views wideness the harbour?

The marina and the library didn’t help. What did help, was ensuring the zones were watered and powered properly. I found that SimCity 2000 can be quite picky with where your power lines and water pipes are. If they’re not sufficiently spread wideness a zone, the construction won’t come.

SimCity 2000 new residential zones wideness the river
Properly powered

I moreover realised that your zones need to have tropical proximity to roads. It’s a fine balance, as the zones are quite abstract—there will obviously be roads “within” zones that you don’t see and therefore don’t need to build. But zone large areas of land without laying lanugo a nearby road, and then the construction won’t come.

SimCity 2000 new neighbourhoods stuff built
Keep the zones small, and build roads virtually them.

Expansion on the other side of the river was going well. There was plane demand for remoter police and fire protection, so up went the stations.

SimCity 2000 police and fire stations
Gotta alimony this side of the river safe.

I then tried zoning a residential zone on top of a hill (you can hear the real manor wage-earner now, “Wonderful harbour and municipality views! Don’t delay—these won’t last!”).

SimCity 2000 new residential zone on top of a hill
Prime real manor (centre left)

It wasn’t a success.

SimCity 2000 new residential abandoned
The hills are not alive.

I reverted my strategy though, and it worked. I rezoned the zone as a commercial district, and zoned a new expansion in the valley for residential construction.

SimCity 2000 rezoning a residential zone to a commercial area
Rezoning worked a recreate (centre left)

The year was 2019, and there was demand for an airport. Airports and seaports are not structures you can build like a school or a hospital—in SimCity 2000 you need to zone them. And it’s risky. The zoning is expensive, and if you get the placement or the size wrong the land just ends up stuff an expensive waste of space.

SimCity 2000 zoning for an airport
Airports ain’t cheap…I hope I get this right.

Thankfully, zoning a large unbearable zone on one of the few unappetizing pieces of land available, the airport moved in.

SimCity 2000 airport construction
Success! Presentville has an airport.

By the present day (the 2020s), I had remoter expanded in the south, and I started to utilise nuclear power as the older power plants expired.

SimCity 2000 nuclear power plant
Going nuclear

The year 2035 marked a big occasion, as Presentville was named the state capital. This was due to the municipality reaching a population of 30,000.

SimCity 2000 Presentville becomes state capital
The papers are still only 25 cents in 2035?? That’s the headline!

The reward? A statue of the mayor.

SimCity 2000 mayoral statue
I don’t know, it looks a bit…communist? Fascist? Well, I had been in power for over 130 years…

The 2030s brought with it demand for a seaport, and similar to the airport, it has its risks with placement and size.

SimCity 2000 zoning for a seaport
An expensive gamble…

Again, thankfully, I got this right, and Presentville had a seaport.

SimCity 2000 seaport construction
…pays off.

As I was nearing my stated 2050 target for this playthrough of SimCity 2000, I had never experienced a disaster. That reverted in 2040, as a commercial plane went down.

SimCity 2000 plane crash
That plane is a little low…

I was fortunate, as the plane went lanugo outside of the city. But I still had the ridiculous situation of having to build roads so my fire engines could go to the site and put out the fire. The firefighting itself is a mini-game where you get to place your misogynist fire squads (I had two, due to having two fire stations in the city) to try and put out the spreading fire.

SimCity 2000 firefighting mini-game
Fighting fire, SimCity 2000 style

The death toll would have been a lot higher had this plane crashed inside the city.

SimCity 2000 plane crash headline
A sad day in Presentville’s history

After that sombre moment, I spent the rest of the 2040s expanding.

SimCity 2000 zoomed out view of the city
Zooming out

As I passed 2050, my SimCity 2000 municipality had reached a population of over 38,000.

SimCity 2000 population window
We’re number one! (in population)

And with that, I decided to retire, without 152 years of service to the unconfined municipality of Presentville.

How was my tenure as a virtual public servant? Possibly like real public servants, the overall wits was mixed.

The Verdict

I have to say that when I looked over the municipality of Presentville at the end of my playthrough, I felt very satisfied with what I had built. Especially given that I went in pretty cold, and was relying on my previous playthrough wits from scrutinizingly 30 years ago.

I know I would do largest next time, and I’m confident I could grow a worthier municipality in terms of size and population.

But will there be a next time?

After I managed to pay off the bond, it was quite easy to run a upkeep surplus. So what did I do with that surplus each year? Expand. Zoning new areas, and watching the municipality and population grow.

But the repetition got boring.

Further, creating new zones requires a level of micromanagement I found irritating. It was the need to meticulously ensure each zone had unobjectionable power lines and water pipes and roads.

SimCity 2000 underground water pipe network
Nobody wants to squint at screens like this all the time.

I would prefer for the power and water grids to be taken superintendency of automatically, to stave situations like I mentioned whilom where zones remain empty.

SimCity 2000 no power
No power for those water pumps in the centre of screen. It certainly looks like they’re connected…

I spent a lot of time fixing power and water loss, which took me yonder from increasingly enjoyable aspects of municipality building.

After going through decades of rinse and repeat zoning, I was left wondering what else I could do to stay invested. Sure, I could have undertaken interesting projects like a subway or highway system. I could have provided increasingly parks and sports stadiums. Basically, I could have been increasingly creative. For the creative types, there’s a lot of replayability here.

Perhaps I would go in with increasingly of a plan next time. For this playthrough, I just made it up as I went along.

SimCity 2000 municipality metrics
If you’re looking for data to inform planning, it’s all there.

I was moreover left wondering well-nigh what was “under the hood” of SimCity 2000, so to speak. I underfunded the police and fire departments and the hospitals for long periods of time. I moreover paid for a lot of the municipality ordinances I mentioned whilom for my unshortened playthrough. But what if I didn’t do this? If I largest funded the essential services and didn’t pay for so many quality of life initiatives, would it have made that much of a difference? I’m not sure. I’d need to play more, obviously, to determine if there’s a winning formula at play here, or whether there really are multiple pathways to unzip success.

In the end though, I had a good time replaying SimCity 2000, and found satisfaction towers something from nothing. If I overly want to play a municipality builder though, I might squint at increasingly recent offerings that (hopefully) offer a increasingly modern interface.

But for a 30 year-old game, the level of complexity on offer in SimCity 2000 is seriously impressive. I recommend checking it out if you’re curious well-nigh the origins of the series or municipality builders in general, or if you are looking for a nostalgia hit.

If you do though, just don’t take out a bond.


So, have you played SimCity 2000?

SimCity 2000 title screen

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