I’ve been playing SimCity lately. The Super Nintendo version. On the Wii. I don’t know why I was compelled to pay eight bucks for this when the original PC game is now open-sourced and available for free. More to the point, I don’t know why I was compelled to pay for a game I already own. Granted, it’s boxed up, along with the Super Nintendo, somewhere in my parents’ house, but if I ever felt the desire to play it I could have easily picked it up over a weekend. I wonder if that battery save still works. I had a Megalopolis on there!

The PC version has the added benefit of mouse control and full keyboard support, yet I’d rather kludge around with a d-pad because I’ve always had a soft spot for the SNES version. It had a certain charm that the PC version lacked; a bit of that old Nintendo polish. It was more polished, the graphics were far clearer and distinct, the music was pleasant and everything felt livelier. The PC version, by comparison, felt really flat.

SimCity SNES

The thing that motivated me to play this classic game was Dubai: the what the fuck? new capital of the architectural world. More specifically, it was details of Dubai’s waterfront plans, with its ridiculous Deathstar building, that reminded me of SimCity. This diagram in particular:


It compelled me to build a city. A city that is designed not for living but for the sake of getting a high score. A city that exploits all the nuances of the system for its own benefit, like rails (instead of roads) everywhere, high-density donut blocks and mile long stretches without intersections, stacked zones built on top of half demolished buildings and an emphasis on waterfront development even if it means non-linking intersections on bridges in the middle of the river. And the thing is, no matter how goofy of a city I construct (so long as I do it with the goal of getting a large population), it will never match the ridiculousness of the real thing in Dubai: a tasteless because-we-can money pit of urban planning built with a high score in mind (tallest this, biggest that).

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