SimCity for Palm

When I first heard about SimCity for the Palm OS, I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. How could a game that easily occupies a 21-inch screen be any good on a 3.4-inch screen. Even if it was playable, why on earth would you want to? Despite my reservations, I tried it anyway. To my surprise, it actually works. Not in the same way as SimCity 3000, it's actually SimCity Classic - the original version. The company that ported SimCity to the Palm, Atelier, worked with the original developers to make the game as similar as possible to the Classic version. Power games
For those who've not seen the first version of SimCity, it puts you in control of a virtual town. The city and residents must be kept happy. Taxes must be reasonable, or the population leaves town. Transport, power, policing and other city essentials must also be managed to keep the populous sweet. Once a city is established, it needs to be watched and tended to make it grow. This takes time and patience, as each element needs careful consideration. SimCity turns Palms into Tamagochis for adults. They will be banned in meetings, because of concerned execs fiddling with tax rates in their virtual cities. The game is simpler than SimCity 3000, the zone squares are just squares, as opposed to click-&-drag areas. This is because operating with a stylus isn't quite as accurate as a mouse. Building roads is a little tricky, and I built a couple of unwanted roundabouts due to stylus misfires - though this happens with the full version, too. Taxing is more simple than SimCity 3000, so there is a single tax rate rather than industrial, commercial and income taxes. Also, zoning is all the same density, whereas the full version offers high- or low-density zones. It is understandable that some things had to be trimmed to fit into a paltry 224K. But, nothing serious is missing. There is still the possibility of disasters, including everything from tornadoes to monster attack. There is also a chance of insurrection from unsatisfied citizens. Terraforming isn't available, but it doesn't affect game-play badly. Other thoughtful games for the Palm platform would be nice. Tetris and Breakout are fine for a while, but something a little more cerebral makes playing more fun. Perhaps Civilization could make it to the Palm OS.

OUR VERDICT

If a Palm device is just a work tool, this isn't for you - unless of course you're a town planner. But on long flights, or even train journeys, this could ease boredom for hours. Beware though, it is extremely addictive and can be hazardous to work. SimCity is downloadable from the Atelier Web site (www.ateliersoftware.com) for $29.95 (a little under £20). This includes the colour version for the Palm IIIc.

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