by Richard C.S. Kinne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Do you ever wonder why Donald Trump built those big towers in Manhattan? What attraction drove him? Now, with SimTower, Maxis Software's newest simulation of our complex world, you can find out. SimTower simulates the building and the running of a large skyscraper. And, you don't even have to deal with Ivana or Marla.
Begin at the Lobby -- You begin by creating a ground floor lobby and then building up (and even down a bit) from there. You can place offices, hotel rooms, fast food and regular restaurants, movie theaters, and condominiums on the floors you build. The simulation does not neglect infrastructure - you can also build security rooms, service elevators, express elevators, medical centers, and metro stations. In fact, you must build infrastructure in order to advance in the game.
As the workday progresses, SimTenants move into the tower and you gain the revenue needed in order to expand. If you keep your tenants happy, you'll be able to build a bigger tower with more people and thereby progress from your initial 1-Star rating all the way through a 5-Star rating, and then, finally, the Tower rating.
Elevators and Other Considerations -- As with many Maxis simulations, one of the secrets to happy Sims is helping them quickly move from point A to point B. In SimTower, this obsession takes the form of elevators. Indeed, interest in elevators - according to SimTower's designer Yoot Saito - sparked the creation of SimTower.
Any Maxis game, however, is a layered product and mastery of one element never guarantees success. For example, hotel rooms and condominiums should be placed on different floors or tenants complain about noisy neighbors. Too much noise causes stress levels to rise and then the tenants leave your building. On the other hand, fast food restaurants should be convenient to offices or the proprietors complain that they don't get enough business.
Room for Improvement -- Although I found SimTower quite enjoyable, it's not perfect. For instance, a few commands show only on the tool and information pallets, but not on the menus. For example, to pause the game you click a VCR-like control on the Tools palette. Unfortunately, if the Tools palette is not up you must bring it up before you can pause the game.
You can track and name different people in your building. You can search for named people: the program indicates the person with an arrow and centers the person on the screen, thus changing the display of your whole building onscreen. A much better method would be to put the indicating arrow pointing to your person onscreen without moving the building unless absolutely necessary.
You can do a little "improving" on your own with a freeware cheat application from Dave Baum <email@example.com>. It enables you to increase your funds at will, should you be so dishonest.
Great Animation and Sound -- SimTower boasts some of the best animation and sound I've seen in any program. You can follow the weather and the progress of the days. You can watch your Sims work in their offices, prepare for work in their hotel rooms, and clean their condominiums. A rooster crows at dawn, a bell sounds the beginning of the business day, and elevators whoosh from floor to floor. The animation and sound can be turned off, of course, and the game runs faster without them, though I found SimTower ran reasonably fast on a Power Macintosh 6100 in emulated mode (the Power Mac version of SimTower is not yet available). Then again, I always end up playing Sim games in Slow mode, because they offer so much to track.
Conclusion -- In the final analysis, SimTower is not SimCity 2000 in terms of scope, complexity, and ease of use, but it compares favorably with the other Sim games such as SimEarth and SimLife. If you prefer shoot-em-up action games you might want to pass on SimTower, but if you enjoy the Sim series of games where you create a simulation, you should find this game a winner.
Maxis Software -- 800/336-2941-- 510/254-9700
510/253-3736 (fax) -- <firstname.lastname@example.org>