Recommend a town-building game

Yesterday I spent about ten minutes playing a Sim Town-like application in Facebook. I stopped and uninstalled it when it wanted me to pay real money to get some fake game money (also, it asked to post stuff to my wall every thirty seconds, which was annoying). But now I’ve got a hankering to keep building.

Something on the level of SimCity 2000 or lower is what I’m after. Must be free or cheap. Compatible with Windows. Cute graphics a plus.


Well, both strive for realism over cute but Cities XL 2009 is $15 and City Life (2008) is $10.

Edit: Cities XL 2011 is on sale here for $5

Oh, and I know those are perhaps more advanced than what you’re after. I’m just throwing out suggestions based on what I know.

Why not get SimCity 2000?

Mostly because, over the course of twenty years, I’ve played it to death :slight_smile:

I need some fresh blood.

FYI, entering voucher code PARTP-ALCNO-TIESU today gets you 20% off of that. So it’s really $3.99. Cheaper than most casual games.

You might also enjoy the Tropico series. You build up an island with housing, industries (lumber mills, banana plantations, etc), tourist attractions, restaurants, etc. You can try to run a tourist paradise, ecological jewel, oppressive military regime, strip mine your island to the bones, ally with the US or Soviets and more. I haven’t played it since the original but it was pretty casual to just mess around on the easiest settings. Island management is a factor because your people need to live close enough to the industries to work but you don’t want your five star hotel next to a coffee processing plant.

Tropico 3 is on sale for $4.99 right now at the same place so the same voucher will make it $3.99.

The original game (package) is actually slightly more expensive right now at $5.56 and you can use the same 20% voucher for that instead.

Did you play Sim City 3000? I think that was the best of the franchise in terms of sandbox city-building. I like the more challenging management and planning aspects in Sim City 4, but at least when I play it all my cities end up looking pretty similar.

I highly recommand the tropico serie. One of my favourite games.

I enjoyed equally tropico 1 and 2 (Differences aren’t important, although there was a bug with house renting prices in T1 and I’m not sure it has ever been fixed by an official patch). Didn’t try 3.

It’s more complex than SIMCITY, with more factors to take into account, but also offers much more variery of goals and methods to achieve success (as mentioned, you can rule democratically what will become the wealthiest, happiest industrialized island of the caraibeans, or divert towards your Swiss bank account the money of tourists and tax-evaders who enjoy your luxurious resorts long away from the shanty towns where your impoverished populace lives under the thumbs of your well-paid thugs).

It’s also funnier due to the caricatural theme of 1950-era banana republic. Also, contrarily to Simcity, you have a score, and can lose (by being ousted by a popular revolt or your own military).

Ooops. I in fact own and played Tropico 3.

I was about to buy it on the site linked to when the money-grabbing policies of my bank saved my ass. They require a special code for online payments that you can only get by paying for special online banking service. It’s doesn’t matter for non-European sites, but this one is apparently British and I needed the fucking code. So, I looked up for T3 on Steam and realized I already had it. :smack:

I hated Tropico. The idea was brilliant, but I found it so incessantly difficult to get anything resembling a good banana republic going in there, so I usually went about being extremely cruel and sniping my political rivals when I had 96% popular support! None of my games really lasted all that long as a result. Obviously, based on the comments above, though, YMMV.

The one saving grace of Tropico was the gorgeous Latin inspired soundtrack, which I keep on my iPod to this very day. Wasn’t Tropico 3 like a pirate cove sim? Or was that just a similar game by the same designers?

I liked Roller Coaster Tycoon, and that got a lot of play in my house around the same time as Sim City. A lot less “busy,” IMHO, than Sim City. You build rides, concessions and junk. You make sure your staff fix them. You occasionally drown patrons to your parks!

That was Tropico 2. Tropico 3 was back to the basics.

Then I amend my previous comments. I played Tropico 1 and 3 and enjoyed both. I don’t know the (apparently different) Tropico 2. Sorry for the confusion.

ETA : I had no interest in Roller Coaster Tycoon (I had no interest in conceiving roller coasters, specifically) and quickly gave up, so indeed, milleage can vary.

The Impressions Series (Pharaoh, mainly). I know these are old, but Pharaoh still holds up, IMO.

Tilted Mill’s Children of the Nile was worth playing. I didn’t like Caesar IV as well, but then I didn’t play it very long, just a session or two.

There’s a free-to-play online version of Nile that I think I tried but didn’t get into.

The builders I’ve checked out on Facebook have been disappointing. My browser freezes when I try to open CivWorld, Farmville and its imitators annoy me, and I guess Empires and Allies was OK for a while but did lead to me junking up my friends list with people I don’t know. Like I was adding people who don’t speak English. It’s sort of funny when they wish me happy birthday, though.

Settlers of Catan and other boardgames (and their electronic versions) are often satisfying and relatively short ways to get a building fix.

In my experience, using the prefabricated designs for the roller coasters didn’t diminish the gameplay experience at all!

I’ve actually gotten back to Sim City, to come to the OP. I got it on a sale at the app store for 99 cents on my iPad. It’s ported quite beautifully as a touch screen game!

Pharoah and its expansion Cleopatra are probably my favorite games of all time. I’ve played them all the way through several times… even before the pyramid accelerator. Maybe I should load Pharoah and play in the sandbox.

I booted up SimCity 4 last night (I messed with it a few years ago and got frustrated), and it’s not-quite, if you know what i mean.

I’ll also recommend the recent Tropico games. I actually didn’t care for the first one and skipped the second one, but I played the hell out of the third and fourth installments. They’re complex, funny, pretty, and have good music.

The only thing that I found frustrating about Tropico 3 was that it takes forever to get things built. It got so aggravating that I consider the instant-build code to be a fix, not a cheat. Tropico 4 resolves this issue.

Note that 3 and 4 are very nearly the same game. Tropico 4 is basically Tropico 3 with the Absolute Power expansion, another expansion’s worth of new stuff, and a new campaign and soundtrack. It reuses most of the graphics from Tropico 3. I found it to be well worth the money, though. The Modern Times expansion is fun, too.

To piggyback, if I may: I’ve been looking for a town/city-building game with good graphics such as City Life 2008 (and Cities XL looks gorgeous), but one thing all these games have in common is that they force you to deal with the economy and social strata and sewage maintenance and so on.

But all I want to do is build a city or town. I don’t care if the nuclear power plant is right next to a schoolyard or the town’s water supply. I don’t want fake townspeople to start to riot because the “swells” live too close to the “have-nots.” I just want to build a great-looking city. Basically, I don’t want a sim-type game, just an urban architecture game that lets me do whatever I want irrespective of whether it makes logical sense or would “work” if there were actual people living there or whether I have a budget that allows me to build a Super Bowl-sized football stadium.

I thought City Life 2008 was that game, but I kept getting into trouble because I ran out of money. Do any of these games allow you to turn those aspects off?

(I did love the ability to design the city and then drive/float through it as if I were a townsperson in 1st person POV. Huge bonus points there.)

For what it’s worth, I had great fun with Roller Coaster Tycoon and never once designed my own coasters because I was bad at it. I just enjoyed making successful parks.

Some of my favorite games are city builders.

Pharaoh & Cleopatra and Zeus & Poseidon are very similar games. I still play them. They are from the days when game play was more important than fancy graphics.

The Settlers – My favorite is Settlers II: Gold. The only one in the series I didn’t like was the last one, The Settlers 7.

I like all the Tropico games but they are an acquired taste for a lot of people.

The “Anno” series. Try Anno 1404 first.

eta: Oh yeah. Somebody mentioned Children of the Nile … a very playable game, but not so much for the online version.

And what may be the best building game ever made (although you don’t build a city, you build a hospital): Theme Hospital.