Dear NPCs, please simulate reading the following:
Today’s genre is the broad spectrum of Simulation games out there. Sim games come in many different varieties and the gist of them all is basically to pretend doing something very specific, meaning generally that the process of the game is more important than its conclusion. Sim games are less about trying to beat them than they are about accumulating game time. A genre of diversity, there are simulators for dating, managing theme parks, building cities, working a 9 to 5, driving vehicles, performing surgery, being a cat, and of course the perennial favorite: farming. Simulation games have made a comeback recently, too. How many times have you seen a random noun with the word “simulator” after it. Yes, that’s why we have games like Goat Simulator and Cockroach Simulator. Can’t wait for Diarrhea Simulator.
Below, we simulate telling your our favorites…
The Green Screen Mage
Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis is literally the best! You make your own park, fill it with dinosaurs, get tourists, destroy the tourists exits, destroy the gates, and let the dinosaurs eat the tourists…. That’s how you play, right?
The Black Humor Mage
A game very near and dear to my family and I is Zoo Tycoon: The Complete Collection. I wanted to pick Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis because I love that game too, but it made itself needlessly difficult. Plus, the complete collection edition of Zoo Tycoon came with the Dinosaur Digs expansion, so hey, there’s dinosaurs plus the zoo animals and the marine life from the other expansion too. Operation Genesis couldn’t do that.
The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)
Roller Coaster Tycoon. Simulation is a genre that I have always loved, it is just so relaxing. You don’t have to be all fast paced and stressed out you just sit back, veg out, and build up whatever little empire it is that you are working on. Roller Coaster Tycoon is the series that I have both spent the most time in (that may be contested by the Sims though) and had the most fun playing. I am really eager to pick up Planet Coaster on Steam when I am able, it looks amazing and is by the RCT original developers. (Honorable Mentions – The Sims, Prison Architect, Sim City, Surgeon Simulator)
The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)
When I was young and we had our first Intel 486 desktop, my Uncle gave us Sim City 2000 for DOS. To this day, this is still my favorite simulation game. I love being the mayor and overtaxing my citizens so I can build many monuments to myself.
The Five More Minutes Mage (Gamegato)
While it is really, really slow, Harvest Moon: Animal Parade takes the cake as my favorite simulation game. There’s something fun about it. Planting crops, raising animals, and building friendships all take center stage in this game, and all these Animal Parade activities are fun.
The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)
Harvest Moon on the SNES remains my favourite game in the series. I really enjoy the simplicity of the game. You have your cows, your chickens and your crops and when you’ve tended to those, you fish. If you’re lucky you could even join Eve in the hotspring. Eve was always the girl that I went after. I went for her solely because she lived in the bar and I could just see her after I did all of the farm work for the day. The bad ending for the game is intense and definitely changed the way that I looked at chickens. Scary!
The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)
The most fun I’ve had in any simulation is being a theme park magnate on Theme Park (Mega Drive). Raising prices, ripping off my own staff, making dangerous, expensive rides…not terribly realistic but I enjoyed it. I guess it’s a very simple game that can become complex and fun the more time you put into it. When you know by heart the amount of salt to put on the chips to maximise drink profits, you know you’re hooked!
The Dapper Zaffre Mage (Save File 02)
“WELCOME TO BOATMURDERED! Hope you like miasma!”
I had first heard about Dwarf Fortress through a friend, who would put our poor computer lab’s desktops through their paces by running this monster of a game on them. The old-school ASCII graphics fascinated me and further research pulled up a tidy amount of Let’s Plays to read over. Dwarf Fortress is an odd game where a Game Over is imminent, and yet, the best of !!Fun!! is had when everything is breaking down, on fire, or both. The learning curve is absolutely insane and a well-run fort can still be brought down through a variety of misfortune, from a poorly placed lever to the ever (in)famous psychotic breakdowns. Dwarf Fortress features an amount of detail in just about everything it does that really speaks to the running joke that we’ll see the first full version of it soon after the heat death of the universe. The game keeps track of just about anything, from every injury and damaged body part of a unit, to populations and individuals you won’t even see during a single playthrough of any given fortress. It genuinely is a ‘world’.
Like other sims, DF is a lot more fun when you rope somebody else into playing, and succession games were great to watch unfold, where players handed the fort over to others in turn. I daresay it’s a lot like sharing a world on Terraria, only, the players rarely have the same plans for the fort as the other and the conflicting tasks and priorities eventually lead to a satisfyingly hilarious downfall. The question isn’t so much ‘is this place going to go down in a blaze of glory’, it’s when and how much of a metaphor you want ‘blaze’ to be.
The Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage (Nostalgia Trigger)
I don’t remember much from the fifth grade, except seeing my crush kiss a jock at a school dance, and playing Rollercoaster Tycoon to forget about it. Let me tell you – despite what I tell strangers in hospital waiting rooms, I’m no doctor. But Rollercoaster Tycoon was and still is some of the best therapy for heartbreak that money can buy! The ability to create your perfect theme park was so mentally stimulating to 11-year-old me that it’s no wonder the franchise exploded afterwards. Of course, as a young kid, the toughest part to understand was the concept of the bank loan. Typically my park would go bankrupt within the first year. Still, I played many simulation games during my youth and Rollercoaster Tycoon stands out as one with the fondest memories, by far.
The Rage Mage
Sometimes video games are all about wish fulfillment. Like you wouldn’t actually commit grand theft auto or pick up a hooker or spend days in front of a mirror trying to figure out your “character creator” settings. That’s why there are simulation games, so you can digitally do all the mundane work you don’t have the credentials to do in real life. Sim games are wish fulfillment. Take Surgeon Simulator for example. It’s therapeutic. That and it gives all those YouTube talking heads something to yell about when they run low on pointless stories about their trips to grocery stores… “Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free…”
The Well-Red Mage
Ladies and gentlemen, the king of all simulation games: SimCity 2000. As far as simulators go, this is the gold standard for construction based ones. Its mechanics are identifiable and robust, scaling quickly as your cities grow, with each new milestone leading to new challenges. This is one of the few games in my life that I’ve sunk multiple hundreds of hours into, as I used to play it nearly every day after school when a wee mage. I learned so much from this game. I learned more about traffic, city zoning, and taxes from this game than I ever did in school. I learned that if your residents hate you, you can always summon an alien invasion to eradicate them. Going through my old games, I came across the CD-ROM for it, so rest assured there’s going to be a revisit review coming shortly! How could I not be enticed all over again by one of the greatest sims ever made? This is the kind of game I gravitate towards: one that screams “potentials”.
Other sims I’ve enjoyed over the years include: Abzû, SimAnt, SimEarth, SimCity 4, Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, Harvest Moon 64, Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, Stardew Valley, Restaurant City, Rune Factory: Frontier, Surgeon Simulator, and E.V.O.: Search for Eden (an evolution sim!).
Please don’t just simulate coming back tomorrow. Let’s be adults and drop that running gag. See you after another eventide for our 17th Elemental Challenge sol-cycle! What genre will it be? I don’t know… that’ll be something you’ll have to see in person, first.