24
Nov
13

Simcity for DOS

I see a Sign!

I see a Sign!

Simcity was developed by game designer Will Wright after having worked on a game called Raid on Bungeling Bay and finding it more fun to build the levels. The original Simcity was made for the Commodore 64 in 1985, but it wasn’t until 1989 that it was first released commercially on the Amiga, Macintosh and later IBM MS-DOS systems. It was ported to many platforms including at one point several forms of unix.

City map

City map

My older brother was the first in the family to come across Simcity at school, they were running it on some very old school 8088 PC clones that had Hercules graphics and only PC speaker sound. When we got our 386sx machine in early 1990, it was because of my older brother that Simcity was the first game that got installed.

Heavy Traffic

Heavy Traffic

Simcity quickly became a favourite amongst the family, we built many cities of various sizes, and challenged ourselves by restricting what we would build with. We used the disasters to keep the game interesting when we filled up the map, or we would just start building another new city to see if we could fit more people in. One challenge we set ourselves was quite interesting. We set up a map filled with nuclear power plants (this required the funds cheat) then wait for the numerous meltdowns to destroy most of the reactors. We had to try build a city in amongst the rubble and radiation, they usually didn’t get very big.

AAAH! Godzilla!

AAAH! Godzilla!

We originally played it using the hercules graphics mode, and later the EGA high-resolution colour graphics. The game supported pretty much any PC of the time graphically, and looked pretty good in the process. The colour EGA graphics are very colourful and pleasing to the eye. They animated quite well on our 386 machine, but on slower machines it could be a bit slow.

This city has a certain glow.

This city has a certain glow.

Sound came in the form of either PC speaker or Tandy sound support for those machines. It had a sort of pseudo digital sound output that some games had at the time. If your machine and speaker were good enough the speech in the sound effects was much clearer, but most of the sound effect were quite audible on most hardware.

Tasty Pollution

Tasty Pollution

The great thing about the game is there is no winning or losing condition. You can pretty much do what you want with your city, whether that be large populations, design experimentation, or just simple destruction. There were a few scenarios that did have winning conditions, and you could be thrown out of office if your were doing a _really_ bad job, but we rarely played the scenarios and almost never got kicked out.

A happy city... sorta.

A happy city… sorta.

There was so much fun to be had with the game, we played it on a regular basis for pretty much the entire life of the old PC. It holds many nostalgic memories of both myself and my brothers playing it on a lazy summer afternoon. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the reasons some of the keys on our old keyboard got worn. If you’ve somehow been living under a rock and never played the original, I’d highly recommend you give it a go. There is a free version called Micropolis that is free and open source, but can be hard to get working. Stick with an old copy for either DOS or your favourite retro-computer platform.

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7 Responses to “Simcity for DOS”


  1. January 20, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    one of my favorite series of games. I had the SNES port growing up and not much exposer to the DOS version. I have the original here somewhere. Its sound support is weird, I think it also supports the covox speech thing and maybe the Disney sound source.

    • January 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      I didn’t play any of the other ports, although I think it was ported to pretty much everything including old micros like the ZX Spectrum, I think depending on the system some were missing some features, usually cause the platform didn’t have room.

      The SNES one is interesting partly because of the addition of many nintendo characters and elements, like Bowser being the monster. Being a powerful console of the time, it was also very feature complete in the sense it had nothing/very little missing from what I understand.

      I didn’t know there was Covox support, that’s certainly interesting! I’ll have to try it under dosbox and see if the sound is much different, if our original disks have the support. Honestly I’m surprised there isn’t support for other sound devices like the Adlib that were established at the time. It would certainly be interesting to find out.

  2. January 21, 2014 at 4:18 am

    I just pulled out my copy. its not very first release with the Godzilla on the box art but the one that looks identical except its a tornado. I believe other then the box art its the the same game as the initial release. I was wrong about the speech thing. it actually supports the covox sound master which i think is even odder. its a covox 8 bit isa sound card which didn’t seem to get massive support. but yhea this was 88/89 so why it would support that thing and not adlib….

    • January 21, 2014 at 10:01 am

      That’s quite interesting, apparently Simcity was a launch product for the Covox Sound master (or vice versa). It unfortunately didn’t seem to get much support that took real advantage of what it could do, and was designed to compete with the Adlib. Maybe that’s why Simcity didn’t support any other sound? Since there’s no emulation anywhere, or even cards to buy, I guess I won’t be trying it out!

  3. January 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Theres always the 1993 Simcity classic. virtually the same game AFAIK but adds VGA support and support for sound blasters and pro audio spectrums. System requirements are more hefty though. I am curious of any changes other then the graphics and sound and stupid live action FMV’s

    • January 21, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      I’ve never played that version, and a quick search didn’t turn anything up. Might be a question for youtuber Phreakindee, he has a mammoth collection of Maxis stuff so I’d wager he knows! If I ever spot a copy I’ll certainly try it out.

      • January 22, 2014 at 4:07 am

        heh, I actually have a boxed copy of the SC classic as well as the original so maybe when I’m not feeling to lazy I’ll take a look also


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