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Review: SimCity for the iPhone


Welcome to my fledgling city of Saillune.

SimCity 3000 was the first computer game I ever bought for myself. Up until that point, I was happy with "borrowing" the games that my brothers bought and playing those. But, after a high school friend showed me SimCity 3000, I wanted it for myself.

SimCity for the iPhone is pretty much a port of SimCity 3000, and the game comes across beautifully. The graphics are amazing and you can't tell the difference between playing the game on the computer or on the iPhone. When I heard that Electronic Arts was bringing SimCity to the iPhone, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I always felt that the port of the game made for handhelds was an inferior version to the computer-based originals. Part of me wasn't quite sold on the iPhone as a gaming device.

SimCity helped me change my mind.

Here's a look at a breakdown of the game, what works and doesn't, and even a neat Easter Egg.


Even if you're a seasoned SimCity veteran, it's worth going through the tutorial to get a good handle on the controls on the iPhone. The tutorial is brief but thorough. It's very simple and a good refresher if you haven't played the game in awhile, or an even better guide for beginners.

SimCity takes advantage of the iPhone's built-in navigational tools. Use your fingers to zoom in and out just like in other programs. You draw roads by dragging your finger along the iPhone screen. There's also tab controls that you can drag to make your selection precise. It's extremely useful, especially if you have trouble drawing on the screen with your index finger.

If you're familiar with SimCity 3000 or SimCity 4, then you are familiar with the graphics for the iPhone version. I am extremely impressed with the graphic capabilities of this program. This does not look or feel like a knockoff of the original, like so many ports do. However, there are some caveats. You have got to reboot your iPhone before playing the game for the first time, or you will most likely crash. Also, the game isn't quite as responsive as some of the other EA games I've played, like Scrabble. But that might be due to my slightly older hardware.

SimCity has the same jazz music you'd come to expect from the series, which is great in most situations. However, unlike some other games, you can't immediately silence the music by flipping the Ring/Silent switch. I wish implement this (Scrabble as well).

Easter Egg
Here's one neat Easter Egg. When I tried shaking iPhone to see if it would let me change terrains, a screen flashed up prompting me to enter a cheat code. I looked up both SimCity 3000 and SimCity 4 cheat codes, but none of them seemed to work with the game. If you discover any to share, please let us know in the comments!

SimCity is one of the greatest time-wasters ever invented and is extremely addictive. The iPhone version is no different. This is one of those games that will help make the iPhone be viable as a portable gaming unit alongside the Nintendo DS and PSP. For those hesitant to try out games on your iPhone, give SimCity a try. You won't be disappointed.

SimCity (link opens iTunes) is available in the US iTunes store for $9.99. An international version of the game, SimCity International, can also be found in your local iTunes store.

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