Even in the year 2006, news still crops up in unusual places. Yesterday, for instance, we heard a rumour that Sim City was coming to DS.
We wanted it to be true – the idea of building our own fully-simulated city using a stylus is about as exciting a thing as we can imagine on a dull Wednesday afternoon – but the newsgroup discussing the rumour was quoting… well, nobody. Somebody had heard about it from somebody. And so on.
Happily, it turned out that the rumour has sprung from reality – more specifically from the pages of Japanese games magazine Famitsu. That seems a strange place to announce a Sim game (they've not been particularly popular in Japan), especially for the publisher Electronic Arts (which is headquartered in California).
But, well, Rome wasn't hyped up in a day.
Anyway, it's easy to see how Sim City could work well on DS. Underlying the game's simulated cities are two representations of the bustling metropolis. There's a pretty, isometric view of the skyscrapers, factories and stalking monsters (really –it's a surprisingly odd game) that comprise the city you've built from scratch yourself. Then there's the 2D 'zone' map, where you lay down the basic City planning for what should go where, in terms of commercial zones and residential areas.
You can't control exactly how the city grows – the simulation and entertainment lies in watching how your underlying 2D plans are realised in reality.
A DS game would seem a perfect fit, then. It's easy to imagine you doing the zoning and other management tasks on the DS's bottom screen, while you watch you city grow from a one-horse town into a thriving (or crime-ridden) metropolis on the top screen.
From various online translations of the Famitsu news (mainly IGN's), we know that the DS game will be based on Sim City 3000 on PC, and the basic mode of play is the classic, Build a New City. Here it's up to you to found your own New York or London, balancing resources and expansion without running out of money or stretching the city's services too far, too fast. Save a City mode will enable you to jump straight into cities where that's gone wrong, challenging you to sort out congestion and other everyday urban problems as well as – if we know Sim City – more unusual issues like natural disasters and even attacks from space.
Finally, Sister City mode is where the wi-fi multiplayer features reside. According to Famitsu you'll be able to swap city features, for instance. We're hoping for more.
Obviously the mouse control of the original Sim City 3000 is substituted for stylus-controls for the DS version. Other new features will include a city advisor who gives you tips on expansion and various DS-style mini-games.
Famitsu says the game will be out in Japan by the end of 2006. Let's hope we see it then too.