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Video Game / SimCity

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Downtown, there's no finer place for sure!note 

"Is it time — to be Mayor?"

A Simulation Game released in 1989, and the first Sim game "created" by Will Wright (actually a team of developers, most notably Don Hopkins, who go largely uncredited etc.). It's been around for a while: the original was widely released, it could be played on first-generation Apple Macintoshes (i.e. the ones with black-and-white screens) and popular 8-bit microcomputers.

You are the mayor of a city which is inhabited by Sims. You build the roads and infrastructure (power plants and other utilities, schools, etc.), you allocate the zones where your Sims will live and work, and the Sims decide where they want to live and what they want to do and (depending on tax policies) how many Simoleons they will pay you. You will need that money to maintain and increase the infrastructure. Natural disasters also happen on occasion, and you can even cause them on purpose.


Eventually, SimCity proved to be so successful, it managed to spawn five sequels over eighteen years:

  • SimCity 2000 (1993) was the first major extension, replacing the 2D top-view with faux-3D isometric graphics, and introducing most of the features of later games: water pipelines, underground rail, highways, healthcare, education, rewards, a wider assortment of power plants and a separate building editor, the SCURK (SimCity Urban Renewal Kit). Interestingly UK PC Gamer magazine still ranks this as the best SimCity despite its age. It is widely remembered as a port overdosed title, even though not a single console from Super NES to Nintendo 64 was capable of running that game without collapsing.
  • SimCity 3000 (1999) was mostly a graphical and feature update. Originally it was going to be in full 3D, but the technical limitations of then-current hardware led Maxis to revert to 2D graphics. The graphics stayed isometric but were promoted to high-definition, new variables were added including fire hazard, approval rating, water and garbage pollution, neighbor deals (which were quite unfair), and support for bigger cities that could reach the million inhabitants with a bit of luck. (It also eliminated hydroelectric power plants that lasted forever, so you could no longer leave your city running overnight and come back to a prospering metropolis with a million Simoleons in the bank; this was counterbalanced by a much more forgiving revenue system that made it much easier to maintain power plants) A later expansion, called Unlimited / World Edition / UK Edition, added a scenario editor, a building editor, as well as Oriental and European building sets. This was remade as SimCity DSnote  and also for iDevices under the title SimCity Deluxe.
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  • SimCity 4 (2003) was the second major extension; the buildings are rendered in 3D with high resolution, trimetric bitmaps, but the terrain was now a full 3D mesh, and the assortment of civic buildings was expanded (the schools, for example, were split into elementary schools, high schools and private schools), a maintenance cost was added for all the utility buildings, and the game was designed to allow for third-party mods. However, the greatest new feature was the regional gameplay: instead of playing with isolated cities, you could now play with an entire region divided in cities, you could get all your services from another city at a fair price, your Sims could live in your city but work somewhere else, and the demand in your neighboring cities would affect your own demand. A later expansion, called Rush Hour, added more transportation options, such as ground highways, monorail, elevated rail, one-way streets, toll booths, and there are also many third-party mods, such as the Network Addon Mod, which adds more rail systems, elevated roads, and more traffic crossings. Aside from the in-depth city management options, the player also had the option to design the region from scratch. This extended to the possibility of using real-life satellite imaging to add real world regions in game. So far, due to its many, many hidden depths and vast modding community, this game is considered the best of the series.
  • SimCity Societies (2007) was completely different from the previous games. Instead of laying out your zones, placing your infrastructure and seeing your city developing, you would place a building that generates a certain "societal value", which can be Productivity, Prosperity, Creativity, Spirituality, Authority, and Knowledge. These societal values were used to affect the look and functioning of your city: a lot of Authority, for example, would turn your city into a Stalinist capital, with security cameras, slum housing for the poor, posh buildings for your leaders, and Secret Police, while a lot of Productivity and Prosperity would turn your city into a New York-esque metropolis filled with skyscrapers and high-rise condos. The entire societal value system, as well as its long-promised full 3D graphics, greatly hyped up its pre-release value; however, the community found it disappointingly easy and shallow, and the 3D engine was prone to grinding even hulking great PCs to a halt at higher zoom levels.
  • SimCity Creator (2008) is a standard SimCity game that offers a wide selection of architecture themes such as Egyptian, Roman, Japanese, European, Las Vegas, near-future, and even fantasy themes that result in crystal-style or confectionery-style cities. The game was exclusively released on the Nintendo Wii and DS. It's notable for being the first game in the series to allow curved roads, as well as for having advisors who could actually take over a section of the city and see to its needs, though they had to be leveled up in order to do a good job. It also has the widest variety of available disasters.
  • SimCity (2013) was designed by Maxis, who intended this game to be more of a direct sequel to SimCity 4 than Societies was. It also introduces online multiplayer to the series proper, a game mode that has not been explored since the long-forgotten SimCity 2000 Network Edition. However, due mostly to poor planning, server overload and bugs wrecked its release — badly enough to prompt Paradox to greenlight Cities: Skylines, which literally bills itself as "the SimCity 5 that never was". Periodic updates over a period of eight months restored the game to approximately the level of functionality promised on launch, albeit with major bugs still gone unsquished. Late the same year, an expansion was released: Cities of Tomorrow, focusing on bringing cities into The Future by building huge Arcologies called Mega Towers, unlocking new technologies with an advanced Academy, or taking over the region as OmegaCorp and dispensing the highly addictive phlebotinum Omega while gradually overtaking all facets of Sim life.
  • SimCity Social was a Facebook game that took the concept of both the 2013 remake and The Sims Social and combined them. The game was retired in June 2013.
  • SimCity BuildIt (2014): Developed by Track Twenty for iOS and Android, SimCity BuildIt is technically a spiritual successor to SimCity Social though not advertised as such. It's visually styled to resemble the 2013 release, but everything you hate about SimCity Social, including Facebook integration and socialization, and microtransactions, returns.

Unlike The Sims, SimCity requires you to work above the level of the individual Sim. You are managing a city, and what you do will affect dozens to millions of Sims, at least, if you know what you are doing.

The game is open-ended. There is no win condition (although in 2000, if you've built enough launch arcologies "the exodus" occurs and all your Sims fly off to live in space), but it is not an Endless Game either; you can tell if you're doing better or worse, but you can keep doing it as long as you want, resources permitting. It should be noted, however, that certain versions of the game do have a Game Over scenario. For example, certain versions of SimCity 2000, 3000, and 4 will end with you getting kicked out of office if your city's treasury enters the red for a certain period of time.

It shouldn't be confused with Sin City, unless you forget to build police stations. Or are playing on the appropriate map.

The series also spawned a number of spin-offs other than The Sims, some of which are listed below. Most of them tend to be "SimCity meets such-and-such."

  • SimFarm: SimCity meets a farm. Grow crops, raise livestock and influence the fate of the local town.
  • SimEarth: SimCity meets a planet. Take a terrestrial planet from formation to the point where its sun goes red giant, through the evolution of life and development of civilization along the way. The "largest scale" Sim game, Spore included. Notable for coming with a Doorstopper of an instruction manual.
  • SimLife: SimCity meets evolution. Similar to SimEarth, but focused in more on life and evolution.
  • SimAnt: SimCity meets an ant colony. Win the battle of the back lawn against both the red ants and the humans, and try to invade their home.
  • SimTower: SimCity meets a skyscraper — similar to the "regular" games, but on a smaller scale.
  • SimIsle: SimCity meets the rainforest. Balance the demands of industry, ecology and tourism on a series of tropical islands.
  • SimTown: A "kids' version" of SimCity with bigger graphics, a smaller town, simplified game mechanics and more focus on individual citizens.
  • SimPark: SimCity meets a nature reserve in North-West America. Doubles as an enviromental educational tool and a way to hear people constantly whining about there not being enough cars. Its disasters include Kudzu (a rapidly spreading weed) and a garbage dump. Like Sim Town it's mostly geared towards children.
  • SimSafari: SimPark meets a safari park in the savannas of Africa. It is a similar environmental education game, but you also hire employees from the nearby village, helping to bring the people out of poverty by supporting their economy rather than through charity.
  • Streets of SimCity: Actually a major break from the resource simulation genre, instead being a driving sim - with some combat elements thrown in, no less. Perhaps most notable for two things: you can upload SimCity 2000 maps into it, and it was a rather remarkable forebearer of much later open-ended games like Grand Theft Auto (except that the player is stuck in his car, and it was naturally much more primitive; that said, it even shares many similar themes, if you can believe that) Sadly, it had a number of Obvious Beta bugs that kept it from gaining a wide audience.
  • SimCopter: Another break from resource management simulations into a primitive flight sim; the player's goals were to deliver people to various destinations, drop water on fires, assist police chases and deliver patients to hospitals (many of which were injured by the player if he or she dropped them from his or her helicopter from too great a height). All of the player's craft were based on real-life helicopters, including the unlockable Apache attack copter. Like Streets, SimCopter also took SimCity 2000 maps as playable settings.
  • SimGolf: Create your own golf course and then play on it. Various elements of design are the starting locations, hole locations, placement of water, rocks, sandtraps, trees, and other hazards, and even changing the gravity if so desired. Not to be confused with Sid Meier's SimGolf, which was published by Firaxis.
  • SimHealth: Try and change the circa-1993 US healthcare system! Although remarkably deep, it was policy-heavy, had a 90 degree learning curve, and was not very entertaining.
  • SimTunes: A break from simulation entirely, this was a pixel art and music creation program that happened to be under the Sim label. It was marketed under the Maxis Kids label like SimTown.

Tropes in the Sim City world:

NOTE: The 2013 SimCity has its own page.

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    Across multiple games 
  • Bootstrapped Theme: Actually, there is no theme to represent SimCity as a whole, but, each game seems to get its own little theme via one of the pieces in the game:
    • SimCity 2000 has its own theme, which can be heard hidden (via an ice cream truck or building sound effect) in all other titles. In the special edition, the theme plays in the "About" screen.
    • SimCity 3000 and its expansion Unlimited have a leitmotif (appropriately titled "Sim City Theme" on the soundtrack) which filters into many of the other tracks in the game.
    • "Street Sweeper" is used as background music during the opening cutscene of SimCity 4 Deluxe, which leads some to believe that it is this to that game.
    • In SimCity 2013, one can hear DAH dun duh-duh-duhhh duhn dun-duuunnnn in many of the songs in the soundtrack, essentially making it this game's theme.
      • It's even the doorbell chime for the Mayor's Mansion.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: From SimCity to SimCity 4, the zones have always been green for Residential zones, blue for Commercial zones and yellow for Industrial zones. The SNES port of SimCity changed the colour of Residential zones to red.
    • Also, 3000 had a dominant color for each zone type, density and income level. Mid-class apartments, for example, were brick red, rich houses had light green grass, heavy industry was brown, and small businesses had lots of pink esplanades. This remained to some degree on the Unlimited expansion, where the European building set, for example, had brown historic buildings as light commercial and light gray mid-class apartments.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: averted; you place infrastructure, but the Sims will build structures themselves in properly zoned land.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard
    • People demand Fire Departments even when disasters are disabled. No point in building them unless Disasters are on (and in SimCity, set them to ~1% funding until needed). SC4 replaced turning disasters on or off with most disasters only being there for Videogame Cruelty Potential, but some disasters would still happen on their own — fires, for example, start pretty much only in places without adequate fire coverage, implying that the fires you see as disasters are actually fires that got out of control and require your intervention.
    • The treasury specialist in SimCity 2000 recommends floating a bond to take advantage of low interest rates - ignoring the fact that it's sometimes hard to get a stable enough cash flow to maintain power plants that self destruct every 50 years.
    • Your advisers in SimCity 4 have a tendency to incessantly shower you with messages telling you that your neighbours want to escalate the terms of their service contract with you even when there's no option to do so (not to mention that you might already be selling them five times as much water as they actually use, in which case they probably aren't in the market for more water)
    • SimCity 2013 is full of this.
      • The trash and school statistics do not always tally up. If you grab a calculator and manually add up the attendance per school, more than often you'll find that the numbers are not the same as the numbers shown on the statistics pane of the school tab. Also, the game may claim that a school is full even though it isn't, and it will claim that not everyone is attending school even though the graph view shows that every kid in every residence is attending school. Also, not enough high skill workers? Add more schools! (the correct thing to do in this situation is to instead upgrade the college or add another). Also, one early quest in the game tells the mayor that they may incorporate themselves as a small city on reaching 2500 residents, but upon taking the quest the number required doubles to 5000.
      • Also all a problem has to do is pop over the threshold for a moment to bring about a screaming alert at the player. Sewage has a rough moment processing? The game tells you that the system can't take it, even though by the time you take a look at your plant the rough patch has passed and there aren't any pressing problems.
      • In addition to that, if you build a teeny-tiny city you will be able to actually do an actual head count of the number of tiny sims you can see and discover that though your population may be "18" you can find 21 people walking around.
      • The biggest Drama magnet of them all? The city population as shown in the UI is intentionally scaled to look extra big once you go past a few hundred.
  • Cool Car: Streets features (as playable vehicles) a 1969 Chevy Camaro, Ferrari 250 GT, the original 1966 Ford GT40, plus a 1973 GMC C-Series van and Volkswagen Beetle. Non-playable vehicles include a 1964 Ford Thunderbird and a Mercury Cougar. Players can weaponise them; see Weaponised Car below.
  • Crapsack World: It can be built, if you really want to...
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Anything involving nuclear power is bound to result in catastrophe...
    • In 2013, any of the fossil fuel specializations can ultimately set you up for trouble if you do not prepare for the raw resources to run out in the city. Luckily, the global market tends to be fairly kind with the price of coal, ore, and oil at the moment.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: Implied when you set the budget for services really really low. The Fire Marshal outright states your city needs more firefighters.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: Advanced to a large scale standard!
  • Easter Egg: You can build the game studio's headquarters, the California Plaza, in your cities. Then there are all the hidden Maxis logos and game references. Also, all the games from 3000 and onwards have 2000's theme hidden somewhere.
    • In 3000, you have to manually edit a configuration file to unlock the 2000 theme. In 4, it's the ice cream truck jingle.
    • In 2000 itself, we have Nessie and Maxis Man. Also the Moose: if you start clearcutting too much forest, the sims will protest. Eventually you're asked if you want to hear the moose...
    • SimCopter has one of the most famous Easter eggs of all time: one of the development team was gay, and became offended when asked to program in a celebration sequence with bikini babes... so he added bikini-clad men, forcing a recall when they were discovered. This programmer would later go on to pull culture-jamming pranks as one of The Yes Men.
    • Another Easter egg in 4 appears more obscurely in the form a man sitting on a floating balloons-strapped lawnchair. As Maxis is a Californian outfit, it comes as no surprise why it's there.
    • In 2000, the Inspect mode turns the cursor into a cross-hairs. If you click the mouse while that cross-hairs is over a helicopter, the helicopter will then go into a tailspin and crash. And depending on where it crashes, this will also start a fire.
    • In the SimCity Urban Renewal Kit, typing "vaudeville" will cause a crudely-animated Launch Arcology with a top hat and cane to dance across the screen twice to some (presumably) vaudeville music.
    • SimCity DS features Bowser's Castle as a landmark gift.
    • When your in-game date in 4 reaches October, your cemeteries will be visited by ghosts and zombies. Likewise, every mid-June will bring a graduation ceremony at your university.
    • The "dollyllama" cheat in 4 replaces your advisors with llamas!
  • Everything's Better with Llamas: To an art form!
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: If you zoom in and look closely at the signs and billboards on buildings, you'll find their descriptions to be extremely concise. For example, low-tech industrial buildings will have signs and billboards that label them as "Standard Factory", "Dirty Factory", "Mill" or even "Low-Tech Industrial" and "Low-Tech Factory".
  • Fictional Currency: Starting with SimCity 3000, the unit of currency is officially called the simoleon for SimCity 4 and SimCity 2013.
  • Flying Saucer: Alien invasions, although the SimCity 2000 alien was a robotic eyeball with four legs. You can fly one in SimCity 4 with the Rush Hour expansion.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • The modding community of SimCity 4 had to fix a raft of bugs that were never patched and severely harm large cities, including an over-simplified pathing system that grants the ability for commuters to get stuck constantly moving in circles between connected cities without ever getting a job anywhere or drive halfway across the map to get across the road, the Opera House having a limit of 1,200 R$$$ Sims after which it knackers the entire city's education rating, most industry-high tech buildings not actually employing any R$$$ Sims due to a math error...
    • SimCity 4 also has a rather well known bug in which the game will crash if you use the scroll wheel to zoom and you push the scroll wheel too much.
    • SC4 has never received optimization or patching for newer PCs and operating systems past Windows XP, and there's an array of graphics, rendering, gameplay, and crashing issues that some users have experienced. The forums for the game on Steam are filled with user suggestions to fix some the problems via launch option strings, using Windows 7 compatibility mode and tweaking screen resolutions.
      • To wit, the game's in game graphics settings only offers four resolutions: 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024, and 1600x1200. And it certainly doesn't offer widescreen ratio resolutions, even though the game engine does. One needs to manually specify the resolution via command line incantations directly as per Steam forums recommendations to get those resolutions. Would it kill EA to offer a drop down list instead of only a set of four radio buttons?
    • The 2013 edition of SimCity has a requirement that you must always have a connection to EA servers in order to play it, even in single-player. However, as with many always-online games (and worse than most in this case), most of the servers were severely overworked, making the game borderline unplayable. There's a few big in-game bugs as well. Build two sewage treatment plants, and the game won't know how to balance the load between them, nor will it give you the ability to do so yourself, resulting in backed-up pipes and angry citizens simply because one plant gets most of the sewage. Aside from those mentioned above and those mentioned in The Computer Is a Lying Bastard, the game engine also contains some nasty bugs that produces a Luck-Based Mission: the Fireworks Fun quest, due to a bug that causes all utility vehicles like fire engines, police cars and even garbage trucks and buses, to cluster together as a group instead of working independently.
  • Game Mod: Hundreds of thousands of them, especially for SimCity 4, are available on tens of fansites. SimCity 4 is so modifiable, the Network Addon Mod qualifies as an unofficial expansion pack!
    • SimCity 2013 is also moddable, but was much more difficult to do so so less mods were made.
    • The Urban Renewal Kit was an official expansion for 2000 that allows you to customise city layouts and building sprites and tilesets.
    • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: If you consider what some of these mods contain, you can find some cities with Princess Peach's Castle, Pokémon Stadiums, have metal gears as a disaster.
      • Also should be noted that in the Super Nintendo version of the game, Dr. Wright would be chased by Bowser, which would indicate that Bowser was attacking your city. Also, you could build a Mario statue in your city after obtaining a population of 500,000 people.
  • Game Maker: Will Wright conceived it as a scenario editor for his WWII game Raid on Bungeling Bay and programmed it as such for the Commodore 64 in 1985, before expanding it to a full-fledged application. Several developers turned "the toy game" down because it wasn't "arcadey" enough.
  • G-Rated Drug: Averted in an independent mission in Streets, which has you track down and stop what is explicitly a heroin shipment. And in an E-rated game!
  • Car Fu: SimCopter let you win a criminal-catching mission by crushing the suspect to death by landing on him. Required very precise flying skills to do it without taking damage, but a definite guilty pleasure.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Although not as many funny moments as The Sims, it's still funny to watch cars driving directly into an oncoming tornado.
  • Hollywood Provincialism: Probably most blatantly in SimCity 4. The landscapes resemble southern California, right down to the brown, muddy rocks. The water is a tropical light blue. City streets and roads can be lined with palm trees, bus stops resemble the RTA and BART systems, all highways are three-lane concrete affairs.
    • On the other hand, Maxis did send some members of the team to Europe to study the contemporary architecture of England, France, and Germany for the European building set in Rush Hour. To a lesser extent, the European and Asian building sets from the SimCity 3000 expansion are also aversions.
    • A raft of Game Mods for SimCity 4 will also change the vegetation and terrain textures. One adds snow at high altitudes, one that adds mountain forest trees, one that replaces the passenger trains with France's SNCF Corail trains, one simulates the landscapes of northern Mexico — forest in the mountains, desert in the valleys — and one that, quoth the mod's own description, "turns the water from light Caribbean blue to dark rest-of-the-world blue".
    • Maxis has blantatly admited that 2013 features landscaping from the California region. Also, a lot of the buildings, especially for the low and mid-wealth sims, very much resemble buildings from the So-Cal area, including fast food restaurants with giant objects (like a donut or a hamburger) for signs and rather modern adobe strip-malls.
  • Loading Screen: SimCity 4 features goofy loading status messages, such as "Deciding what message to display next", "Deunionizing bulldozers", "Retrieving from back store", and the ubiquitous "Reticulating splines".
    • Streets has a variation of the ubiquitous Indian head test pattern, with the head in the centre in place of the middle circle and wearing a '70s Porn Stache, which only appears after the opening scene and before the game loads. The 1964 Thunderbird appears, perpetually driving through a tunnel when the player chooses a mission.
  • Logic Bomb: Most games have an example or two where the simulation suggests two seemingly contradictory things at once. In the 2013 game, for example, residents will claim "where's the shopping?" while the commercial building next door will lament "no shoppers", even if the two are the same wealth level.
    • Even worse, the game will have residents declare that they couldn't find any job and become homelessnote , even if your details screen shows that there are a more jobs than residents for each wealth level.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: The source of the Word-Salad Humor and Writers Cannot Do Math tropes mentioned below. Because the game is creating news stories by randomly picking pre-generated sentences, filling in the blanks with random data, and then stringing them together.
  • Mega City / Skyscraper City: You can make one if you so wish. By putting in high-density in both Residential and Commercial zones, your city will easily turn into a metropolis with those towering buildings, not to mention raking in the revenues quite effectively that you'll be staying in the black.
  • Morton's Fork: One of the random events you could experience in SimIsland, you would receive an SOS from a passing tanker requesting immediate help. It was carrying a cargo of toxic waste, which proved too much for the ship's hull to handle. You are given the choice of either unloading the toxic waste for storage onto your island (which you could never get rid of) in order to allow the tanker to repair its hull, or turn them away and have them risking a major ecological disaster at sea.
  • Never Recycle a Building: SimCity 2000 takes this trope at full speed. The moment tenants move out of a building, it is instantaneously transformed into a dirty, run-down ghetto shack, regardless of what it was before.
    • As does 3000, but the abandoned building varies depending on the zone and density type (e.g., a light residential building will turn into the aformentioned ghetto shack, and a light commercial building will turn into a run-down shop).
    • 4 averts this by overlaying a dilapidated texture on abandoned buildings. Also, a building can be re-occupied by lower income tenants.
    • Also averted in SimCity 2013. Like in 4, a dilapidated texture is overlaid on abandoned buildings. In addition, homeless people will squat in abandoned buildings.
  • Nintendo Hard: The first game, and SimCity 4 features the hardest money-management metagame ever.
    • The Rush Hour / Deluxe Edition of SimCity 4 adds difficulty settings, and even the easiest difficulty setting is still pretty hard. Forget the fact that you start off with 500,000 Simoleons on this setting; if you don't spend them wisely and generate revenue within a couple of years, you will be bankrupt. On the other hand, the difficulty of maintaining a thriving city in SimCity 4 is what compels people to keep playing it. Those who play a sufficiently large number of hours may see everything differently, and maybe even have increased respect for every government in Real Life.
      • And if you can't generate enough revenue to offset the capital that's constantly spent, you'll be stuck constantly performing missions around town.
    • This also applies if you choose to keep disasters enabled. It may become a Classic Video Game Screw You in some cases, such as enabling disasters and running at cheetah speed in 2000, causing a simple fire to wipe out the city before you can react.
    • At least some of the money-management difficulties can be solved by applying the lessons in a tutorial in SC4 appropriately named "Making Money Tutorial".
    • Traffic takes the center stage in 2013.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Averted, many sample cities and challenge scenarios are recreations of real cities. Tokyo, Los Angeles and various big cities from around the world are the usual suspects.
    • There was also a really fascinating one in 2000 where you took over Flint, MI in the 1970s, just before shit hit the fan.
  • No Fair Cheating: Some early SimCity editions on the PC have a cheat code that grants the player money ... at the cost of possibly triggering a major earthquake.
  • Not in My Backyard!: In 3000, 4, and 2013, how zones are developed and how desirable they are is a considerable gameplay factor: while uneducated plebes and the low-level businesses and factories they work for can pop up anywhere, middle and upper-class citizens and businesses will only want to set up house and shop in unpolluted areas close to their workplace/employees/customers and places with good schools, hospitals and other city-provided services. Places like landfills and power stations will drive away all but the most destitute of sims, while parks, plazas, landmarks and reward objects will attract the wealthy. Finally, any irradiated area is a universal no-no—even the poorest Sims won't bother settling down in such areas.
    • One Sim's NIMBY may be another Sim's treasure. For example: farms hate heavy road traffic while commercial buildings absolutely love it since it brings more customers to them.
    • Certain structures such as heavy industry, prisons, toxic waste facilities and casinos will result in the petitioners screaming at you. Industry and prisons are a necessity if you want your city to grow, but structures such as megaplex malls and army bases have negative effects as a cost for funding to the city and increase to certain zones, so it's up to the mayor to balance the risk/reward, or not use these bonuses if the city can thrive without them.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Several advisers, the transport minister from 2000 and the financial adviser from 3000, are a lot more demanding than most of the others. One petitioner is even portrayed as "never having met a city decision she liked" and does she ever live up to that moniker. Several of the other petitioners; environmentalists, low income earners, and those demanding lower taxes among them, are more unreasonable than others. One actual obstructive bureaucrat is particularly nit picky, but does not complain as much as some of the others and occasionally rewards you for your efforts with a city hall, courthouse and army barracks.
  • Permanent Elected Official: You, of course, Mayor Defacto.
    • Subverted in 2000, 3000, and 4: The game ends when you get kicked out of the office, which happens if you run into the red and refuse to do anything about it (say, take out a loan, repeal money-losing ordinances or build income-generating buildings) for a certain period of time.
  • Police State: In 2000, 3000, and 4, if you put too much funding on your city's law enforcement, your Sims will complain about oppression and will suffer a lower standard of living due to your police going to great lengths to ensure that no crime in your city goes unpunished. In 2000, the police station's stats will actually show that more crimes are being punished than committed!
  • Real Is Brown: SimCity 4 did this with all the buildings in attempt to make them look more subtle. Probably one of the earlier uses of the trope as well.
    • If you've used Google Street View to look at the center of any small town in the US (or the brown-brick skyscrapers of many midsize cities), you'll know that this is largely justified.
    • Averted or played straight according to player preference in the 2013 release, as it gives players the option of applying various graphic filters to their view which changes color contrast ratios. Some give the city a more subdued color look, others give it a more bright and vibrant look. Despite having no mechanical effect, they can drastically alter the "mood" a city projects.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Everything is instantly built except for the Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Structures.
  • Running Gag: "Reticulating splines" has appeared as a loading screen line in every game since SimCity 2000. Also, a lot of things seem to be centered around broccoli and llamas for some reason.
    • The "Reticulating Splines" status is so pervasive, SimCity 4 even parodies it, with the status "Gesticulating Mimes".
    • In 3000, the news ticker often makes references to an apparent kitty kibble shortage. Said kibble manufacturers deny everything, but the kitties are increasingly unhappy as you play.
    • Llama-related gags abound in both The Sims and SimCity 3000. In the original The Sims Exchange days, one user ran with this and regaled readers with the tales of Llama Man, a "The Tick"-like comic book superhero.
    • Newspaper articles in 2000 have a running gag of declaring things to be bald. After a chemical cloud disaster, the headline in the paper is "Bald Pollution", and several people involved in the newspaper stories are noted as being bald. Sometimes, bizarre headlines such as "Bald Radio Found" crop up as well.
  • Scenery Porn: In every game except, possibly, the first, this has been a major emphasis (though secondary to the applicability of the simulation itself), to a degree determined by the technology available to the average consumer at the time. Broken as the base may be on Societies or SimCity 2013, nobody can deny that they have the capability to make absolutely beautiful cities.
  • Serious Business: Players have spent years at a time trying to recreate real cities, most commonly New York, and in SimCity 4, embarking on enormous region-wide building projects. Some of these are so intricate that players alter the game's programming specifically for them; all while writing elaborate backstories and plots for their worlds. Several fansites hold competitions for the best of these. Also, architecture students often use SimCity 3000 and 4 to test the theories they have learned in urban planning class.
  • Shout-Out: The very existence of the California Plaza as a landmark; some of the buildings in the game are named after Maxis staff.
    • In SimCity 2000, one of the buildings was styled after the historic Orinda Theatre in Maxis's then-hometown.
    • One of the buildings that may appear in a Hi-Tech industrial zone in SimCity 4 is called Kane Tiberium. Go figure.
    • In SimCity 2000 many neighbouring city names are references to Red Dwarf and Blake's 7
    • One of the disasters in the 2013 game is an Epic Creature from Spore.
    • You can build Bowser's Castle in SimCity DS.
  • Space Compression: Even taking into account the high densities of the metropolis, many cities and buildings seem too small to contain the population they supposedly contain.
  • Terrain Sculpting: The games allow the player to modify the terrain as befits the needs of a growing city. However, doing so as a mayor is expensive (unless you cheat). Fortunately, each game since 2000 has had a mode wherein a player could sculpt the terrain for free before founding a city there (and in 4, there are more ways to do so pre-founding as well). The controls have become increasingly precise and lifelike, and support for terrain imports became available, so as to recreate real-world locations. In 4, you can also make craters before or during city play by dropping meteors or summoning volcanos.
    • 3000, 4, and Societies all allow the importation of height maps for a city (or whole region in the case of 4), meaning if you can somehow convert a Topographic map to a height map, you can basically recreate any real life location. 4 even offered a service that would allow users to use USGS data to create regions modeled after any part of the US.
  • Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack: The SNES, 3000, and 2013 games all employ this musical trope. The SNES version features a heavily modified version of the melody for each stage of the city, 3000 has a recurring riff throughout the tracks, and 2013 (and its expansion pack) use the main theme and its variations to create the soundtrack.
  • Torches and Pitchforks:
    • 2000 has the Riots disaster, which can be more accurately described as Torches and Protest Signs. The angry mob will light buildings on fire and rally other Sims to form more angry mobs. If left unchecked, they can potentially raze an entire city to the ground.
    • 3000's rioters traded the torches for some sort of improvised explosive. They can hurl them several blocks away, starting fires over a large area, but unlike their predecessors they can't create additional mobs.
  • Advanced Tech 2000: SimCity 2000, and SimCity 3000.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: You play as one.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Outside of the scenarios, the only way to get fired is to run your city too far in the red.
    • On the other hand, you can't fire any of your advisors. You may wish you could if the Environmental Advisor in 4 obtains a Court Order to shut down a water tower or pump because the water quality is bad (forcing you to buy an expensive Water Treatment Plant or demolish the old pump and put a new one elsewhere).
  • Unbuilt Trope: SimCity is arguably the Trope Codifier for Construction and Management Games. However, much of the lasting appeal of the classic game, as well as the sequels, is the disaster scenarios, and the ability to deliberately destroy a thriving city with disasters. This is, literally and figuratively, a Genre Deconstruction made by the first widespread game of the genre.
  • Vehicular Combat: Streets is built on this trope.
  • Vice City: If you choose to legalise gambling and build only a select few police stations or not any at all, your city will be this.
    • In 3000, this also applies if you don't have any jails constructed (which were first introduced in this game). Even with several police stations built, with no jails, your city's LE will be forced to let criminals go and continue their cycle of crime as they please.
  • Videogame Caring Potential: To a detrimental extent, in many ways. Focus too much on giving your citizens an idyllic existence with parks and marinas and police officers on every corner, and you'll run into the red.
    • Truth in Television to some extent: There's a reason that programs like that tend to get cut when the budget gets tight.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: The very existence of the "disasters" menu — SimCity 4 even gives players the power to control where disasters hit, and turned off most disasters appearing randomly, meaning the only reason for disasters is this.
    • SimCopter has a LOT of potential:
      • Finding the Apache allowed you to shoot missiles at buildings and cars, destroying them, and mow down civilians with the machine gun. The "U-Drive-It" feature of SimCity 4: Rush Hour also had a drivable attack helicopter, in addition to a tank, a jet fighter, and a UFO. Additionally, you could use the Apache's rockets to cause a nuclear meltdown, by blowing up a city's nuclear power plant (if one was built). The resulting explosion would level most of the city, destroy your helicopter and start numerous medievac and fire missions. (If you didn't want to lose the Apache, it was best to let the fires burn their way up the silos and switch over to a cheaper helicopter. You lose whichever one you flew last.)
      • There were also UFOs flying around the sky from time to time. Shoot them down with a few missiles. There were no serious repercussions for doing so (except sometimes they'd cause a fire when they crashed.)
      • You could drag and drop passengers from their seats to forcibly debark them. Their expression if you do so while flying was priceless.
    • On a more subtle level, leaving Sims impoverished without basic municipal services, sending residents on long commutes through woefully under-capacity streets, giving tax incentives to heavy polluters... you get the idea.
    • One that overlaps with Easter Egg: In 2000, you could shoot down the traffic copter with the Center tool.
    • In 2000, you can get rid of rioters by lowering the terrain that they're standing on until it becomes water. That's right, you can drown your own malcontent citizens.
      • Drowning people that couse too much trouble? Where have we heard that one before?
      • And start fires if "disasters" are switched on. Another amusing one in 2000 is to build anything other than low-density residential next to an airport runway. Naturally, daily 911 disasters with massive fires will occur if "disasters" are switched on. If they are off, the planes merely explode. You can also blow up oil tankers by raising the land under them so they are lifted out of the water, and destroy trains by destroying the train tracks they are stuck on.
      • In discussing SimCity 4 the producers said they took out the plane crash because of September 11.
    • Demolishing a crowded bridge in SimCity 4 will cause all the vehicles on it to drop into the water below.
    • One player spent 5 years designing and building the perfect city that would push the population to the max at the same time allowing the city to exist in a perfect state for over 50,000 in-game years. The price of this is a totalitarian police state where Sims live unhealthy, regimented lives under the constant watchful eye of the police and the average life expectancy is 50.
    • In 2000, if you zone a high-rise in the way of an airport's runway, airplanes will crash into it. Repeatedly.
    • In "SimCity Social," this is in fact encouraged, as certain rewards are only available if you pull pranks on your friends' cities. A mild example, though, as most acts of trickery are fairly benign, but a few of them involve sprinkling laxatives into the flour at the bakery (which is actually more dangerous than it looks in cartoons) and throwing gas on the flames of a burning building.
    • In SimCity 2013, hackers can now take advantage of the "always online" requirement to wreak havoc in the cloud-saved cities of other players (It does not save them though). Whether if this continues will depends on the fallout from the game's launch. And don't bring this up in EA's forums. They are banning people about this. No, not banning people for actually wreaking the havoc - banning people for pointing out that there's a flaw in their "always online" requirement.
    • In Streets, you can destroy any vehicle, including civilians, rival couriers and police.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: One of the rumors about SimCity SNES is that bulldozing too many Hospitals/Schools will provoke a disaster.
    • In "Gallahad's Watch" in Streets, if you kill an innocent by destroying their vehicle, the mission ends immediately and displays a message explaining that you are not above the law.
  • Video Game Time: The day-to-day business of citizens could be seen but it happened on a different time scale to the rest of the game so that day-to-day business was happening on a week-to-week time. In Sim City 4, they made the My Sim feature explicitly work on a different time scale.
    • Lampshaded in SimCity 3000 when one unpauses a game a while after pausing it and making tweaks. The ticker will display a hilarious message about the sims wondering if time stopped and about things that weren't there before the game was paused.
  • We All Live in America: Quite a few things work the way they do in the United States and not in other countries. For instance, it is the responsibility of the city government to fund and operate the police force, whereas in many if not most countries, that's the function of a higher level of government (e.g., in France, it's the central government, while in Germany, it's the state government). Of course, the developers had to use some country as a model.
    • On the other hand, averted in a few cases (mostly for gameplay reasons). The city (which is the only level of government in the game) owns and operates all utilities (water, power, and sanitation) and all health facilities. Most of these services—with the exception of water supply—are usually handled by private companies, or sometimes private non-profits, in the US; there are a few places where the local government might own or have a controlling stake in a hospital, power plant, or garbage-collection service, but these aren't exactly the norm. Governmental ownership of most education facilities, however, is realistic (as it is in most countries).
    • People won't tolerate high tax rates. For example, in Sim City 4 demand goes negative if taxes are set at about eleven or more.
      • That's probably because an 11% municipal tax rate is unheard of anywhere in the United States. (As an example, NYC's residential rate is at 10.8%)
      • Of course, while Americans can get pretty passionate about the tax rate and there are places in the world with higher tax rates, there are fairly few places in the world where high tax rates are exactly popular. Also, even in high-tax countries, a high municipal tax rate (rather than a high national or other tax rate) amounting to more than 10-15% of income would usually be regarded as extortionary (recall, of course, that in most places—including the United States—municipalities most commonly levy their taxes on property value rather than income).
    • The game also resembles the United States in that the easiest solution to population growth is usually to expand into a previously undeveloped wilderness area. Most European cities don't have this option.
    • The lack of mixed zoning policies has been remarked as basically being US urban planning, circa 1960. The tendency to prefer highways to commuter rail, etc. in anything but the largest cities (driven by weak commuter algorithms) is also quite American. The former may have been a product of simplified programming; the concrete-slapping that the latter can induce, however...
      • 4's Network Addon Mod actually addresses it with a patch that "makes your sims European" by increasing their preference for mass transit.
  • Weaponised Car: Streets is built on this trope, too. Currently the page image. Options include machine guns, missiles, smoke screen, oil slick and proximity mines. You can also install armour, a radar scanner, military grade radar, devices that will allow your car to fly, jump or create a forcefield.
  • Western Terrorists: Group 9, the antagonists of "Gallahad's Watch" in Streets. Little is known about them, however "Only one man stands in their way, and they're about to piss him off."
  • Wide Open Sandbox: One of the first games in this genre.
  • Work Info Title: The "Sim" in the titles lets you know it's a series of Simulation Games.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Your advisors will call you out if you're not too nice or competent.
    • Or if you cut back on transportation funding in SimCity 2000.
    • Chucking a few too many meteors in SimCity 4 will sometimes cause a ticker message that says "Mayor *insert name here* a little too trigger happy..."
  • Wretched Hive: If you legalize gambling and don't put around any police stations, your town will be on its way to becoming like this.
  • You Bastard!:
    • Done subtly in SimCity 3000. When the commercial zones reach Astronomical land value, the Fountain of 9 to 5 and TGIF Hang Spot show up.
    • Also, one of the large factories in SimCity 4 is called Dead Forest Paper Company...
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: SimCity 2000's water supply. The manual mentions this is deliberate, because Maxis' headquarters are in Southern California, and as such, have its constant thirst.
    • In SimCity 4, electricity takes the center stage. You can still have limited development without water, but an area without electricity will not even develop. This is the case in the rest of the series as well.
    • The manual for Sim City 2000 also mentions that, yes, the developers know that cities existed before electricity, but the sims themselves are electronic beings and therefore they require that electricity to live.
    • The requirement of Water and Electricity are both initially optional as of SimCity 2013, however people will complain and then abandon their home if they're not given both after they move in. This system is necessary because power plants in this game cannot function without workers, nor water pumps in turn without power.
    • In SC2013, water once again is limited, though it can be replenished. Other resources exist such as coal and oil, which are, as in real life, nonrenewable. However most people don't notice they are non renewable because people fill the map and get bored long before running our or ore/oil/coal. Even if they do run out, players can simply research more advanced energy production or import more resources at a trade depot (albeit at a higher cost).
    • The SNES version has a near Game-Breaking Bug where upon loading any saved city, the electricity will start off as non-existent for 5 seconds before restoring itself. This can have a severe effect on certain blocks, easily dropping a C-3 High building down to a C-1 Low for example or dropping a growing R-2 High to low density housing. Of course as a cartridge game with a very niche following, this bug was never fixed.

    Simcity - Original Game 
  • Copy Protection: SimCity came with a folded dark red sheet of paper with dozens of city names and "code blocks" printed in slightly darker red that was impossible to duplicate with contemporary facsimile machines. You have to enter the city name corresponding to the blocks, otherwise the game would wreck your city with disasters.
  • Violation of Common Sense: It was a viable strategy to build no roads whatsoever in the original, relying exclusively on train tracks laid out in the same fashion. While this method was twice as expensive, it completely eliminated traffic as a concern and the majority of one's pollution as well.
  • Zeerust: The original SimCity feels especially dated now that the year 2010 has come and gone and there was no nuclear meltdown in Boston (if you discount the one in Fukushima, Japan in 2011).

    Simcity SNES 
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Super Nintendo version of the game introduced the rewards system. Also, introduced the only recognized mascot of the series, Dr. Wright. Think of him as precursor to the education, transit, and health czars in subsequent games.
  • Cosmetic Award: The "View" gift, while not costing anything, merely allows you to see your city tilted at an angle as if on a tabletop.
  • The Cameo: In the SNES SimCity, you're able to erect a statue in Mario's honor. There is also a disaster where Bowser rips through the city looking for the portly hero. If the statue is present when Bowser arrives he'll snatch the statue and leave your city alone.
  • Endless Game: There is no way to "win" Simcity. The game will simply keep going on until the player decides to stop playing. The closest thing to a victory condition is building a city that achieves megalopolis status, which happens when the population hits 500,000.
  • Exposition Fairy: Dr. Wright.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: You can get fired in a non-scenario situation, not by giving your city the highest tax rate in the world, not by letting crime take over your city, not by letting pollution create a hole in the ozone layer right over your city, not even by demolishing the entire city yourself, but by failing to make your loan payment at the end of a year.
  • Leitmotif: Each city size has its own background music. Additionally, the music varies slightly with the season, being more mellow in winter, for example.
  • Super-Deformed: Dr. Wright is a very Japanese touch to an otherwise-Western game.
  • Unending End Card: There is an option to "quit the game", which would lead to a "see you later" card accepting no input from the controller.
  • Useless Item: Hospitals will randomly occupy a newly developing residental zone, but they will have no benefit on your city, taking away valuable space until bulldozed. Schools would occupy the same niche, but by getting three, six, and nine of them at once, you get the gift of libraries which help develop your other residential zones. Once you got the libraries, though, the schools were fair game to demolish.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Again, just like the original game listed above, the SNES port had a strategy of building a city with no roads and just strictly with train tracks; thus eliminating traffic and reducing pollution in your city. In fact, the SNES game's instruction manual blatanly encourages this.

    Simcity 2000 
  • Abnormal Ammo: The beams that the alien monsters from SimCity 2000 used usually set your city on fire. On some occasions, their beams planted trees, created surface water or even built wind turbines, while still destroying the intervening buildings and infrastructure. Perhaps they were Well Intentioned Extremists who thought the Sims' environment needed some help?
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: In SimCity 2000, most of the buildings are obviously asymmetrical but appear exactly the same when viewed from the north or south. When viewed from the east or west, the sprites are simply mirrored.
  • Arcology: SimCity 2000 has four types of arcologies, described on the trope page.
  • Artistic License – Medicine:
    • The newspaper in SimCity 2000 prints random nonsense, such as bogus medical advice for earwax build-uppus, hypertension, llama pox, or pimples.
          According to the [source], everyone should be aware of the early warning signs of [disease]. These signs can include: vomiting up [second disease], loss of [body part] control and occasional fits of guppy violence.
          "If you are experiencing all of these symptoms, then it's probably a [adjective] idea to take massive amounts of medication," representatives say.
    • The newspaper may also warn about "prolonged contact with any kind of simulated city."
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT cut transit funding in SimCity 2000. You will regret this.
  • Bizarrchitecture: One of the arcologies in 2000 is said to be designed around what is best described as non-Euclidian. There's also rumors that a sub-species of human crawls around in the depths within.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • The newspaper in SimCity 2000 mentions some fake names. Journalists may win a Bullitzer (not a Pulitzer). Professors can receive the Nodel Peace Prize (not the Nobel Prize in Medicine). Athletes may win a gold medal at the International Games (not the Olympic Games). The game scenario for Barcelona mentions the 1992 Global Games (not the 1992 Summer Olympics).
  • Cargo Ship: The newspaper in SimCity 2000 discusses this In-Universe (and Played for Laughs), under the headline "Man Loves Computer". A man in a Love Triangle spends more time with his computer (who has a female name) than with his wife.
  • Cheat Code: Older versions of SimCity 2000 have codes that unlock all perks (including Arcologies) and give you a pile of money. There's also the classic "double fund" code where you buy two municipal bonds via "fund", then one through the city management menu, triggering a Good Bad Bug where you end up with a loan with a ludicrous negative interest, meaning you get piles of money you'll probably never run out of every year.
  • Critical Existence Failure: In at least 2000, a newspaper article quotes a scientist who cites a law of physics stating that all forms of power generation will instantaneously collapse exactly fifty years after they're built. This happens to be true for every power plant except hydroelectric and wind. Make sure you budget for replacement power plants.
  • Cyber Cyclops: The Monster is one of the flying, robotic, one-eyed, laser-shooting variety.
  • Deadly Gas: In SimCity 2000, volcanoes and chemical tanks that were destroyed by fire unleashed a big cloud of noxious smoke onto your city, which caused any building it touched to immediately abandon. The debug menu even had a disaster, called Toxic Spill, that spawned a whole bunch of them at once. SimCity 3000 Unlimited upped the ante by introducing the Toxic Cloud disaster, which dumped acid rain so potent that it dissolved any building under it.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: A minor example in the SimCity 2000 instruction manual. The manual at one point says that you have the option of turning disasters off..."if you're a wimp".
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Monster in 2000. It's unclear whether it's a robot, a living creature, or an alien ship, or even if it's actually from outer space and not just a movie prop gone berserk.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Rioters can be snuffed out by fires that they started themselves.
  • I Want My Jetpack: The old SimCity 2000 manual tells players not to "come to us in 2050 and complain that we don't have fusion power yet."
  • Kill Sat: One of the disasters in 2000 is a microwave satellite missing the power plant it's supposed to beam energy to, and instead blasting your city.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The newspaper in SimCity 2000 may warn about "prolonged contact with any kind of simulated city." Better stop playing SimCity now.
  • Level Editor: An interesting example in regards to SimCopter and Streets of SimCity, which load SimCity 2000 levels, thus making SC2000 a level editor for them.
  • Mascot Mook: The Monster in this game shows up pretty much all over the place, from the main menu to the GBA port's help screens. It's so iconic, it's impossible to think about SimCity 2000 without thinking about the Monster. Which is funny, since the Monster rarely shows up in-game, unless you deliberately activate it with the Disasters menu.
  • Show Within a Show: A game within a game. The newspaper in SimCity 2000 reports that school students may play mayor in a city simulation game. Some students go to the school nurse, afraid that they might live in a simulation.
  • Word-Salad Humor: The newspaper stories in 2000 can delve into this as a result of being semi-randomly generated. Remember when that star lacrosse player suffered a twisted kidney and a fractured uvula, or that scare about bogus handbags being sold as a snake oil cure for textured pimples?
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The newspaper in SimCity 2000 cannot do math. Journalists just insert random numbers in their stories. So the "fifth" microwave accident in history can happen after the "ninth" one. Or this: "The victory all but assures August River a berth in the playoffs for the seventh time in 28 years and would only be trip number 3 in the history of the franchise."

    Simcity 3000 
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Some of the larger buildings in SimCity 3000 and later are modelled after real world buildings, but named differently. For instance, 450 Sutter appears as "Vu Financial" and the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Building (also known as 150 New Montgomery Street) is "The Galvin Corp". Some may even recognise Battersea Power Station as the form of the Coal Power Plants.
  • Cheat Code: SimCity 3000 displays a cheat code entry menu when you hit [Ctrl][Alt][Shift][C]. The codes can usually be found online.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Zoned buildings of each different wealth tier and density level in the American tileset have a different dominant color. Tall red brick high-rises means high density middle-class, pastel-colored condominiums means rich high density, light green grass means middle-class or rich low density depending on the size of the lawn, dark brown factories means high density heavy industry, and light gray factories means high density modern industry.
  • Corrupt Civil Executive: Your advisors in SimCity 3000 tend to give advice based or factors in their area of interest without any regard for the big picture, meaning they occasionally suggest somethat that's good for, say, public transport but would cripple the city as a whole. The manual handwaves this by suggesting they may have an agenda (which only results in paranoia over whether their advice is trustworthy even within their area of interest).
  • Crop Circles: The Flying Saucer in 3000 will sometimes create crop circles in wheat fields.
  • Down on the Farm: Under specific conditions, it's possible to get farms in your Light Industrial zones instead of the usual factories. It's much harder to get and keep them than in SimCity 4, though, because you might get farms and dirty industry mixed together in the same zone, which typically drives the farmers out due to pollution.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The portrait of the Green Gaians spokesman looks like actor Howard Hesseman- known for playing Dr, Johnny Fever on WKRP though the portrait looks almost identical to his appearance on Dragnet as a hippie.
  • Truth in Television: 3000 has what's known as a industrial pollutant impact fee, or carbon tax, which fills the city's coffers at the price of commerce and industry suffering. This has become a rather contentious issue in Australia and other countries where such a tax is causing businesses to close down.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In 3000, due to an unexplained bug, when your city's population reaches above 250,000, your citizens will constantly complain about the taxes being too high, even if you set the rates to exactly zero percent! This makes it seem like your citizens are an in-universe version of an Unpleasable Fanbase.
    • Justifiable (to a degree) in 3000 because well planned large cities with high land values can have large positive cashflows (a tax rate complaint trigger) even with across the board 1% tax rates. The zero percent tax rate complaining, however, is a bug.

    Simcity 4 
  • All There in the Manual: The manual that comes with the game is an excellent way to play SimCity 4 well, if you read it thoroughly.
  • Ambulance Chaser: Instead of driving an accident victim to a hospital, the "evil" ambulance mission has you driving them to a lawyer's office first.
  • Apple for Teacher: The symbol for an education building's grade is 5 apples. If all apples are full, the building is second to none, if none are full, it's garbage.
  • Arcadia: Keep your city small, focus on agricultural development note , clean energy, plant lots of trees and build lots of parks and you have your own Arcadia. Some rewards like the Resort Hotel only unlock if you have little pollution.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Drivers in 4 will take the shortest path, not necessarily the fastest one (much like real drivers), resulting in gridlock. The Network Addon Mod, in fact, makes a point of entirely rewriting the pathfinding algorithm to use the fastest path.
    • Without mods, the special Sims you can place in your city will get lost trying to find their work when it's across the freaking road!
    • Even worse, due to how the path finding engine works, your commuters can be caught in an infinite loop while ignoring jobs in your own city. Ever wondered why nobody wants to work in your city? This is probably why.
  • Artistic License – Law: Criminals caught by the police will go to jail even if you have no Courthouse in town, or even in the region, to give them a trial, which is a big no-no in most justice systems around the world.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: in SimCity 4, nuke plants explode with a mushroom cloud and leave behind a glowing crater, contrasting earlier editions that merely rendered the surrounding area uninhabitable. This may be deliberate, given that the effect is expected.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Farmers Market, it's literally just a Farmers Market, but it's small (3x3 tiles), it gives some residential demand cap relief and provides a passive, city-wide health benefit.
    • The Smoke Detector ordinance is extremely cheap and lowers the risk of fires. Useful in the early game where you don't necessarily have the money to have fire stations everywhere.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Yourself; assuming you are halfway competent, the city's residents will happily overlook your golfing in office hours and your toga parties. They're probably just happy you aren't the other type of mayor.
  • Cat Up a Tree: 4 has U-Drive-It missions that either have you saving them with fire trucks or hosing them down on Dr. Vu's orders.
  • Colony Drop: In SimCity 4, one of the disasters is a meteor strike.
  • Crutch Character: Well, Crutch Industry. Agriculture is this, every city starts with lots of agricultural demand and it's cheap to zone and provides some low-wealth jobs, which isn't a problem since low-wealth Sims are what you'll start with anyway. Farms give zero air pollution, but they pollute the water like crazy, except water pollution isn't a problem early on since you don't need water to jump start your city. And with enough farms you can unlock the Farmers Market and Country Fair. The problem is that farms take lots of space for the small amount of jobs and taxes they give and unless you want to lead a rural community of uneducated hicks you'll need to switch to another job source eventually.
    • The "Legalize Gambling" ordinance, it gives you a measly 100$ per month, which is useful when you start the city and are scraping for every Simoleon, and it increases crime by 20%, but crime is not an issue anyway in the early game. The problem is that the 100$ per month doesn't scale with your city's growth unlike other ordinances, and eventually the 20% extra crime will start to hurt, so it's a good idea to cancel the ordinance after a while.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: In 4, it's often common strategy to just to play on the biggest map possible and develop a large self-sufficient city on it. However, actually sitting down to split up your region into various functioning roles can result in having varied means of keeping pollution and crime very low and restricted to only specific cities.
  • Disc-One Nuke: All you need to do to unlock the Tourist Trap (see Lethal Joke Item below) is have at least 40 000 people in the region, 6 connected cities in the entire region and connections with 4 different cities. In a well-developed region you'll sometimes unlock it immediately when you start some cities depending on where they're located.
    • With the U-Drive It missions in the Rush Hour expansion you can unlock some otherwise late-game buildings very early in the game. Particularly egregious is the Casino note  which you can unlock with a Mayor's Limo mission, which itself is unlocked when you build the Mayor's House, which you get at 500 residents. Another example is the "Sick Bus Driver" mission, where you drive a bus around a few bus stops in your city (trivial to set-up) to unlock the Convention Center, which would normally require a large airport along with other things.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: One Loading Screen joke is about predicting how many pastries your city's cops will eat.
  • Down on the Farm: You can invoke and enforce this in 4 with Agricultural Industry Zones.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Press the spacebar while driving the Army Truck and you'll hear a drill sergeant yelling in Simlish.
  • Dummied Out: Several examples.
    • Dirt roads were supposed to be present and would have been cheaper than streets but also have lower capacity. They were presumably cut due to redundancy. The transport adviser was supposed to recommend them as a cost-saving measure and the leftover code has been reused by the Network Addon Mod team to create the "Real Highway Plugin".
    • The City Hall was supposed to be upgraded 2 times as your city grows, like the airports who are upgraded when they reach higher capacity. The in-game City Hall is supposed to be the Small City Hall, and models exist in the game files for the Medium and Large versions alongside the fully functional code, making it unclear why it was cut, and trivial to re-enable, though due to a bug one of the trees will be replaced at random by any custom prop installed, meaning unless you patch it your small town city hall could have an airliner, sequoia or concrete slab on the front lawn.
    • Similarly to the cut City Halls cut above and the airports in the retail game, the Seaport was supposed to upgrade when it reached high-capacity.
    • There was a large amount of code, apparently cut fairly early in development since it's mostly incomplete, that added weather and also complex water mechanics, such as aquifers and salt water. There was supposed to be a desalination plant that would take salt water and turn it into fresh water, and it was possible to drain the water table if you exploited it too much. The only remnants of this in the final game is the "Water source: Aquifer" note on the water buildings, though the final product aquifers are bottomless.
    • A garbage incinerator was going to be implemented. It was apparently cut very late in development, since most of the code is complete and it even has an icon in the game file that looks similar to the incinerator in 3000. It would have been a cheaper alternative to the Waste-To-Energy plant that consumed garbage but only produced pollution and no power. Some plugins restore it to the game.
    • City ordinances from 3000 like the public smoking ban are still in the game files, but unused.
  • Dynamic Loading: 4 employs dynamic loading failure to reduce memory consumption, rendering only the part of the map where the camera is focused on. If the camera moves to another part of the map, the rendered data at the first area is erased while the game renders the second area. With the proper settings, even the largest maps can be played on mid-end computers. The game will always render the ground first, before generating low-resolution copies of any objects, such as buildings, roads and trees, in the area and finally adding in all the details and eye-candy. The entire rendering process in one area can take anywhere from one to as long as ten seconds depending on how many objects are present and how much processing power and memory the computer running 4 has.
  • Fragile Speedster: Some civilian vehicles in U-Drive It missions are pretty fast, but a few collisions with other vehicles will destroy them.
  • Headbutting Heroes: Many of the advisors; most specifically, the Utilities and Environment advisors despise each other.
    • Camille Meadows, the Environment advisor, will go over your head and shut down a water tower if it is too polluted. Jonas Sparks, the Utilities advisor, recommends that you place a nice, noisy water pump directly outside her office as retaliation.
  • Holiday Mode: If you ever played Sim City 4 on Christmas Day (or set your computer's clock to December 25), cities built at higher elevations will have snow blanketing the landscape.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: A U-Drive It mission for Dr. Vu has you drive a hearse to steal a corpse and brink it to a factory for it to be turned into "Simlent Orange".
  • Karma Meter: The driving missions in Rush Hour can turn your Mayor Rating into one, as it will increase or decrease depending on what missions you perform.
  • Lethal Joke Building: The Tourist Trap reward building from SimCity 4. This seemingly useless llama-shaped building known for its far-spitting llamas boosts the demand caps for low-wealth residents by a whopping 100,000, which makes it incredibly useful for building large cities. Although it has a slight NIMBY effect on residential zones, it increases the desirability of nearby commercial zones by a significant amount. Commercial high-rises and skyscrapers seem to cluster around it as if it were a capitalist idol.
  • Made of Iron: Tanks in U-Drive It missions. They have lots of HP and can... well... tank a lot of hits from other road vehicles, meaning you can simply plow through traffic without worrying about exploding for a while.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Camille Meadows the environmental activist has shades of this.
  • Only Sane Man: Neil Fairbanks - your City Planning advisor - is the only advisor who is actually remotely neutral. Every other advisor myopically focuses on their own aspect of the city.
  • Passed in Their Sleep: If the sim you placed in your society dies from natural causes, they will die in this way, being replaced by a Generation Xerox descendant.
  • Perpetual Poverty: In SimCity 4, it is possible to build up a city and its population to a point where everyone is highly educated and live to be 90+, all industry is high tech and there are plenty of skyscrapers with offices providing jobs for the rich and middle class. The player can even enact ordinances banning dirty industry and only zone high density industrial to keep pollution away. Unfortunately, the game engine punishes the player for this: it's almost necessary to have low income residents working in dirty factories somewhere or the player loses a potentially hefty chunk of tax revenue and the city's economy will never reach its full growth potential. It's made worse when a rich and highly educated city has such high land values that new enormous opulent apartment blocks are frequently built that are completely unsustainable and are almost immediately abandoned or turn dilapidated and ugly because only poor residents move in.
  • Rags to Riches: To an absurd level, give your newly founded city some water, build an elementary school, a clinic, a small police station, a small fire station and a park or two (you know, things that pretty much every normal small city has) and watch as several luxurious mansions grow in your town, since having basic services apparently makes a town some sort of utopia that the rich will flock to.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The Bureau of Bureaucracy building in SimCity 4. It's the bureau that handles bureaucracy.
    • And the query sound for it: Office ambience (ringing phones, fax machines, chatter) with loud snoring.
  • Stealing from the Till: If your city is profitable, Monique Diamond - your financial advisor - states that she'll overlook your Mayoral embezzlement. It's only fair, seeing as she is hinted to be doing the same herself.
  • Useless Useful Spell: The Carpool Incentive Program ordinance is bugged and doesn't do anything. It's supposed to reduce traffic.
    • The Nuclear Free Zone ordinance is just useless. It prevents you from building nuclear power plants, but the game is a Command & Conquer Economy so you can simply not build any if you hate them so much. It gives a small boost to agricultural demand, but agricultural demand is ridiculously easy to generate anyway, and it also boosts Mayor Rating a bit, but Mayor Rating can be raised in other ways, like playing the game correctly. On the downside it hurts High-Tech industrial demand, which is incredibly more useful.
  • Working on the Chain Gang: If you build a Jail you will see prisoners working on adjacent streets under the supervision of police officers.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Shows up as a joke in Simcity 4 if you build a cemetery, zombies and ghosts will walk around your city. It's harmless.
    • One of Dr. Vu's mission has you take a crop duster to spray zombie dust on a cemetery. It's once again harmless but you lose some Mayor's Rating.

Alternative Title(s): Streets Of Sim City, Sim City 2000


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