SimCity

The Will Wright Stuff

Was Spore a success? What has The Sims become? And more.

Will Wright, the man who created the best-selling PC game series of all-time, is wearing a leather jacket and smoking a cigarette outside Chaplin Theatre in Raleigh Studios, Los Angeles. He has just delivered a BAFTA-sponsored blow-by-blow account of his illustrious career, dissecting PC classics SimCity, SimAnt, The Sims and Spore and revealing his musical preferences (seventies rock, in case you were wondering).

SimCity

SimCity

Streets of beige.

I've just been told I need to poke Santa Claus. As I ready my stylus and wait for jolly old Saint Nick to appear on screen so that the violent poking may begin, I find myself wondering "Is this really what SimCity is about?"

I mean, let's not try and paint the 1989 original as some humourless grump of a game. For all its strategic muscle, it was also a game that fully understood most people would approach its urban toybox in the same way that a child approaches their building blocks. Fun to build up, even more fun to knock down. Hence the presence of outlandish natural disasters and UFO attacks.

And yet...poking Father Christmas for cash prizes? Really? The flagrant Santa abuse is just one of several "action events" sprinkled through this handheld variation on Will Wright's original recipe, and I just can't shake the suspicion that someone looked at SimCity and decided that in order to appeal to the fabled Touch Generations it would require a hefty injection of over-the-top whimsy. Thus you find yourself setting off fireworks displays, blowing out fires and tapping away on giant apes to repel monster attacks. Are these moments of silliness really such a terrible deviation from the mood-lightening moments of old? Probably not, yet their implementation here still feels intrusive and gimmicky, an unwelcome distraction rather a refreshing change of pace.

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SimCity for DS

From EA in summer.

EA has been squashing cities this afternoon, and has announced that SimCity will appear on DS sometime this summer.

Sim City built for DS

And on its way there in Japan.

Sim City is to become the latest in a growing line of mouse-controlled PC titles to wend its way to the Nintendo DS, according to Famitsu Weekly in Japan. It's due out there sometime this winter.