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SimCity Creator

Score: 76%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Games
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

There have been quite a few Sim City games throughout the years on various systems. SimCity Creator is the newest of those, the second one available for the DS.

Now I didn't play the previous version for the DS to compare them, but personally I thought that the graphics were shrunk down too much to fit on the small screen. It was quite difficult to keep your eye on everything at once and still have any clue what you were looking at. All of the buildings are grayish brown, so it can be difficult in the early ages to discern which type of area you are looking at on the main sheet. On the build sheet though, it is easy to see what is what. Each zone has its own color code, so you can see at a glance what is what.

The background music is a relatively soothing classical type piece. When you have disasters though, you'll get to hear the sounds that they make. When you talk to the people, they don't talk back out loud. You only get to read what they said. Actually, there aren't any real voices in the game. Even when the guy that's telling you what to do talks to you, he still doesn't speak out loud.


Gameplay:

As you could probably guess, in SimCity Creator, you are in charge of building a city. That's not as easy as it sounds, though. You'll need to make sure to keep your citizens happy, make sure that they have enough to eat, make sure they're safe from crime and fire, deal with natural disasters, and many more things.

Luckily you're not expected to take care of all this stuff without some help. There are all sorts of sheets available for you to see your city's information in a variety of ways. The main sheet is the only place that time will move. You'll see the different buildings in your city on the top screen and some basic stats on the bottom screen. You can also choose how fast you want time to move from this screen. You can't freeze time here, though, unless you tap on one of the other sheets at the bottom to read what they do for you.

The Sims sheet is where you go to see the people in your city. You'll see them walking around with the city background behind them. Women are pink; men are blue. If you want to talk to them, you just tap on them. Sometimes they will talk to you first. You can also see their education level, health level, and life span on this screen. If you want to know how you're doing on your money levels, you can check that under the Budget sheet. You have to make sure that you are making enough money to keep your city running before you go and spend it on new fancy buildings. If you don't, you could end up broke!

The Information sheet has some of the most useful tools to keep your city healthy. Under it, you can see information about food support, land values, crime statistics, flammability problem areas, too trashed zones, and environment levels. All of these are important to help you figure out where you need to build more farms, police stations, fire stations, ponds, and other things.


Difficulty:

There are stages to SimCity Creator. The first stage is meant for you to get used to the controls and learn how to take care of the people. As such, this level is pretty easy to play. After you meet the requirement of 5,000 people in your city, then you'll be given the choice of 2 different ages to move on to. Both of these are equally difficult, so it really doesn't matter which you choose. The choice only affects the way the city looks.

The natural disasters provide built-in difficulty. In the first age, you'll have to deal with only tornados. They're not really that big of a problem though, since they just don't hit your city that much. Since my city only took up a little corner of the screen at that time, it only got hit by one tornado. When you move up in ages, however, they're a lot more difficult to deal with. The fires I found to be the biggest pain. They don't really burn out on their own as long as there's something they can burn. Getting them stopped was quite difficult.

Natural disasters can be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, you've gotten your city too cramped to handle, but you just don't know what to destroy. Fires, earthquakes, and other disasters will get rid of the buildings so that you can start over in that section. That way you don't have to decide, they decide for you what to destroy.


Game Mechanics:

There's one major sheet that I skipped in the gameplay section, the Building sheet. This is where you design your city. When you first start out, you'll only have the very basic zones of farms (food production) and residential (housing). You'll also be given "animal paths" that you can build to connect hunting zones. Even though it might not sounds like you need to build very many of these since there are only a few hunting zones, you're going to want to build them like you would any other road. You want to do this because they will get converted to roads in the next age. If you don't build them (or at least leave room for them), you're going to have a lot of trouble with roads down the line.

To build all of these things, you need to tap the appropriate bubble on the touch screen. All the zones, roads, buildings, landscapes, and everything else you need are listed across the top of the touch screen in bubbles. The city is shown on your screen as divided into little squares. Just tap what you want to build and then tap the square(s) that you want to build it on. Some buildings and zones are going to take up more than one square, so you need to make sure to take that into account when you zone out things. Personally I recommend not filling up every single square so that you have room to expand when the people need something specific in that area.

To save the game, tap on the save sheet at the bottom right corner of the touch screen. You have 2 available save slots. The save time is quite long. Don't be scared that the game is locked up if it takes longer than you're expecting. It just takes a while to save all of your city information.

On the whole, I enjoyed SimCity Creator. I do think that it loses something being translated to the smaller screen though. It's just more work to try and see what's going on everywhere than it is worth sometimes. Unless you're just dying to carry your game around with you, I would probably recommend one of the console versions, just so you don't go blind trying to see on the small screen.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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