SimCity Deluxe in Review – A road here, a powerplant there and we have ourselves a city!

I have to confess I missed the original SimCity when it came out back in 1989. Thankfully, I didn’t miss SimCity 2000 and remember spending ages on it, watching my bustling city grow and prosper. Well, it seems I will have many more sleepless nights with my iPhone now that Electronic Arts has released SimCityâ„¢ Deluxe on the App Store.

SimCity Deluxe (a follow up to EA’s SimCity on the iPhone) is a city simulation game from the series that started them all. Conceived by the genius of Will Wright, it is still the best and most comprehensive way to put yourself in the shoes of a mayor.

SimCity Deluxe offers 2 modes of gameplay (plus/minus the tutorial) – the free play on a random map and scenario mode. The latter sticks you with a pre-fabricated city, a goal and a limited amount of time to reach it. These goals often require quite a bit of civil engineering so it’s best to start with the free play. The game provides 3 basic building blocks for your construction activities called zones, which can be residential, commercial or industry and vary in density from low to medium to high. You have to lay these zones out as you see fit, connect them with roads, provide ample power and water and watch them grow.

If you want your city to grow beyond a certain threshold, you’ll have to plan for much more then the aforementioned infrastructures. Pretty soon, you’ll have to start dealing with more complex issues, like education, police and firefighting, medical coverage. And the ultimate challenges in the fight for prosperity will certainly be pollution and traffic. Just like in real life, eh? With such complexity it’s no wonder then that there’s a whole tutorial city that is a must for any player, be it newbie or veteran.

And even when you finally have your city up and running smoothly, don’t relax. The games will shower you with random disaster events, requiring quick use of your forces. Disasters range from the good old tornado and earthquake to such exotic ones as an alien attack. But not all random events are bad – you might be approached by the government and offered to place a military base on your premises, or possibly a High Security jail. These buildings may lower the value of the nearby commercial or residential zones, but  they do provide an additional steady income to help you better your city.

SimCity Deluxe boasts excellent graphics even on the older iPhone 3G, though the performance and stability leave a lot to be desired. On newer devices like the 3GS or iPhone 4 however, it will most likely not be an issue. The environment also varies depending on the season and the detail in animation is changed dynamically depending on the zoom setting. At max zoom you can even see your sims’ busily bustling street traffic. The interface works well, though I did feel the developers could’ve made it a bit less cluttered, maybe adding an additional button to trigger the building menu on the left.

One thing SimCity Deluxe is still lacking is any kind of multiplayer, be it even a We Rule-like ability to visit other people’s cities. And if they would add the SimCity 4 feature of establishing trade relations between players, that could add a whole new layer to the game.

If everything you dreamed of as a kid has always been to look out of your office window and a city of your own grow and prosper, SimCity Deluxe is a must have game. It’s amazingly full-featured, both in content and in graphics. There’s nothing like watching aliens decimate buildings you worked so hard on at full zoom-in. At the same time the game is a bit restrictive on hardware and if you’re on an iPhone 3G or similar prepare for random crashes and slowdowns. Casual gamers may also be a bit cautious because SimCity Deluxe is one of the more complex sim games out there and even with the tutorial, much will have to be discovered on your own. But anyone willing to put in the little bit of effort required to master the mechanics will quickly find themselves spending days and nights with their iDevice in hand and building the perfect city.

With this I declare SimCityâ„¢ Deluxe officially touched!

App Summary
Title: SimCityâ„¢ Deluxe Developer: Electronic Arts
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $6.99 App Size: 70.57MB
  • All the features of the full desktop game
  • Beautiful graphics with traffic and changing seasons
  • Scenarios for those seeking a challenge
  • Disasters to keep you on your toes
  • Instability and poor performance on the iPhone 3G and similar
  • No multiplayer in any way
  • No retina support for iPhone 4


Take a look at some of our other game reviews in the simulation category:

A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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