SimCity

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Downtown, there's no finer place for sure!

A Simulation Game released in 1989, and the first "Sim" game by Will Wright. It's been around for a while: it could be played on first-generation Apple Macintoshes (i.e. the ones with black-and-white screens).

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

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 5 sequels over 18 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, game scenarios, 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.
  • SimCity 3000 (1999) was mostly a graphical and feature update. Originally it was going to be in full 3D, but this was abandoned. 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.) 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 DS.
  • 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, 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.
  • Another game has been announced for release in 2013, simply titled SimCity. This installment is being designed by Maxis, who has indicated that this game will be more of a direct sequel to SimCity 4 than Societies was. It is also set to introduce online multiplayer to the series proper, a game mode that has not been explored since the long-forgotten SimCity 2000 Network Edition.
  • SimCity Social is an upcoming Facebook game that will take the concept of both the 2013 remake and The Sims Social and combining them.

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 does have a Game Over scenario. For example, certain ports of Sim City 2000 and 3000 will end with you getting kicked out of office if your city's treasury enters the red for a certain period of time.

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 civilisation along the way. The "largest scale" Sim game, Spore excluded. 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.
  • Sim Ant: SimCity meets an ant colony. Win the battle of the back lawn against both the red ants and the humans.
  • Sim Tower: 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, and more focus on individual citizens.
  • SimPark: SimCity meets a nature reserve. In North America. Doubles as an enviromental educational tool and a way to hear people constantly whining about there not being enough cars. Like Sim Town its mostly geared towards children.
  • SimSafari: SimCity meets a safari park. Like Sim Park, but in Africa.
  • 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: Manage US healthcare! Based on SimCity 2000, it doesn't appear to have been very good.
Tropes used in SimCity include:
  • 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 build wind turbines, while still destroying the intervening buildings and infrastructure. Perhaps they were Well Intentioned Extremists who thought the Sims' environment needed some help?
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Super Nintendo version of the game introduced the rewards system. Also, introduced the only recognized mascot of the series, Dr. Wright.
  • 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.
  • AKA-47: Some of the larger buildings in Sim City 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.
  • 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 actually fastest path.
    • Without mods, the special Sims you can place in your city will get lost trying to find their work when its 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 Economics: To make way for Rule of Fun.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: A traditional Disaster, whether it be Godzilla, Bowser, Aliens, A giant special effects robot, etc.
  • Audio Erotica: 3000 had a sexy female voice cooing, "Reticulating splines!"
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT cut transit funding in Sim City 2000. You will regret this.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: All too literally too!
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • SimCity 4 Deluxe uses "Street Sweeper" as its opening theme, which leads some to believe to be the representation of the game.
  • Bow Ties Are Cool: Dr. Wright.
  • 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.
  • Cheat Code: Older versions of Sim City 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.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: From SimCity to SimCity 4, the zones have always been green Residential, blue Commercial
and yellow Industrial. The SNES port of Sim City 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 and 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). SC 4 replaced turning disasters on or off with most disasters only being there for Video Game Cruelty Potential, but some disasters would still happen on their own.
    • The treasury specialist in Sim City 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 powerplants that self destruct every 50 years.
  • 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 but suggesting they may have an agenda (which only results in paranoia over whether their advice is trustworthy even within their area of interest).
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Advanced to a large scale standard!
  • Cut Song: Apparently in the Rush Hour expansion pack, there were supposed to be 12 additional songs, but some 4 or 5 were removed in the final product.
  • Crapsack World: It can be built, if you really want to...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Easter Egg: You can build the game studio's headquarters, the California Plaza, in your cities. Let's not forget to mention all the hidden Maxis logos and game references. Also, all the games from 3000 and onwards have 2000's theme hidden somewhere.
  • Einstein Hair / You Gotta Have Green Hair: The SNES adapation's Dr. Wright has bright green hair.
  • Everything's Better with Llamas: To an art form!
  • Exposition Fairy: Dr. Wright in the SNES port.
  • Flying Saucer: Alien invasions, although the Sim City 2000 alien was a ball with four legs. You can fly one in Sim City 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.
  • Game Mod: Hundreds of thousands of them, especially for SimCity 4, are available on tens of fansites. The game is so modifiable, the Network Addon Mod qualifies as an unofficial expansion pack!
    • 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, Pokemon 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.
  • Helicopter 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.
  • 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.
  • Isometric Projection: 2000 and 3000 and their derivatives.
  • 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.
  • Leitmotif: In the SNES version, each city size has its own background music.
  • 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.
  • 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 ubiquous "Reticulating splines".
  • Mundane Fantastic
  • Never Recycle a Building: Sim City 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.
  • 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 simoleans 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.
    • 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".
  • 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 Sim City 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 Back Yard: In 4, 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 unpollutted 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.
    • 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.
  • Permanent Elected Official: You, of course, Mayor Defacto.
    • Brutally subverted in 2000 and 3000: 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Sim City 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.
  • 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.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The Bureau of Bureaucracy building in Sim City 4. It's the bureau that handles bureaucracy.
  • 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 Sim City 4 is called Kane Tiberium. Go figure.
  • SoCalization: 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".
  • Stop Helping Me!: Right after you load up a city in Easy mode, your city planner in SimCity 4 Rush Hour, Neil Fairbanks, tends to pile obvious advice (i.e. create new zones to expand your city) on you in the form of multiple pop-up windows appearing in sequence:

New Residential Development Stymied By Limited Choices

  • click* (window dismissed)

Sims Scout for Office Advantages

  • click* (window dismissed)

Industry Needs Room To Expand

  • clickclickclickclick*
  • Super-Deformed: Dr. Wright is a very Japanese touch to an otherwise-Western game.
  • 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.
  • Ultimate Job Security: 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).
  • Video Game 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.
  • Video Game 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.
    • In SimCopter, unlocking 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, if you unlocked the Apache, you could use its rockets to cause a nuclear meltdown, by blowing up a city's nuclear power plant (if one was built).
    • 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.)
    • Also in SimCopter, you could drag and drop passengers from their seats to forcibly debark them. Their expression if you do so while flying was priceless.
    • Or, more subtly, 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.
      • 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.
  • Quicksand Box: There are manuals and tutorials, but getting a city off the ground is no cakewalk.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: You play as one.
  • 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 Sim City 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 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%)
    • 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...
  • Wide Open Sandbox: One of the first games in this genre.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Your advisors will call you out if you're not too nice or competent.
  • Wretched Hive: If you legalize gambling and don't put around any police stations, your town will be on it's 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.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Sim City 2000's water supply.
    • In Sim City 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.
  • You Fail Nuclear Physics Forever: 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 the case, given that the effect is expected.