There is a curious lack of Sid Meier titles available for Android. So just how does a Civilization junkie get his fix courtesy of the little green robot?
In 1991 I accidentally bought the original Civilization for my Amiga. I say “accidentally” because I’d intended to buy Sim City after playing it on my uncles’ PC several months earlier, but somehow found myself reading the box and walking, somnambulist-like, to the counter and paying, as if remotely hypnotised by Sid Meier himself.
Ever since I’ve been addicted to the game (couldn’t get to grips with Civ 3, however) and for me one of the pre-requisites of a mobile platform is that it should be able to play a version of Civ.
After recently switching to Android after three years running Windows Phone as my primary mobile device, I was surprised to find a distinct lack of any Sid Meier titles at all.
So how was I going to play Civilization?
Hold On: No Official Sid Meier Games For Android?!
Yes, you read that bit right. There are no Sid Meier games currently available for Android.
Back in 2012 several press reports gave the impression that Pirates! and Civilization would both be released, but on further examination it seems that these reports were derived from press releases concerning Java games for feature phones.
Perusal of various forums (such as the on found at the wonderful CivFanatics.com) reveals the horrible truth. Somehow, there is no version of Civilization for Android.
Windows Phone and iPhone get Civilization Revolution (pictured above), a game also available on Nintendo DS, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Similarly, Pirates!, Colonization and Railroad Tycoon are all missing on Android, in their various updated forms.
So, how do you play Civilization on your Droid?
Civ-Like Games for Android
Probably the first thing that you should do is look into the possibility of there being Civilization-like games available in the Play Store.
Sadly, the choice is thin on the ground, with the majority of options being of the social gaming dynamic rather than what we know and love. A popular option has proven to be Lords of Strategy: Civilizations but as good and polished as this title is, it is a strategy card game…
Civilization’s appeal lies in the 4X dynamic: explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. There are many other great 4X games but “Civ” (as the hardcore fans call it) has something else.
Something not found in Civ-like games – the combination of 4X with the innate charm of the game design and the urge to accidentally see 3am as you have “just one more turn”.
Perhaps the most accessible option for Android users is FreeCiv, an Android port of the popular Linux version.
Using an isometric view similar to that seen in Civilization II, FreeCiv offers virtually all of the game concepts and marries them with great graphics. I haven’t played this version of the game long enough to know if the Fundamentalist government type is the best to play with in the later stages, but with a choice of game rules (you can choose between rules based on Civilization or Civilization II) this is a good option.
Mindful of the size of some displays, the developers have made some of the buttons quite chunky. This can prove distracting at first, but FreeCiv for Android soon redeems itself!
DosBox and Emulators
If FreeCiv doesn’t fulfil your Civilization pangs – and with its heavy reliance on the game as it was in 1996 (Civilization II) this may not be the choice for you – then there is always the option of emulation.
Perhaps the obvious option would be to install DosBox Turbo (forget aDosBox and anDosBox, things have moved on) and then find a ROM of Civilization or Civilization II to run on your phone or tablet.
An alternative exits, however. Forget about DOS emulation and look instead at getting a modern version of Civilization on Android. There are several Nintendo DS emulators for Android (I’ve been using the free nds4droid) which will enable you to play the Nintendo DS version of Civilization Revolution. This is a good option, and the game plays as well as it does on other mobile platforms. As you can see from the screenshot, however, it lacks the polish of the Windows Phone/iOS version.
Remember, however, that when using emulators you cannot legally use a ROM unless you own the original version on its original disk.
Conclusion: Civilization Cannot Come Soon Enough To Android!
What Android-using fans of Civilization really need is an actual release of the game. Perhaps it will be Civilization Revolution. Another wave of mobile releases might come along, who knows?
The truth is, the Android platform is missing the presence of Sid Meier. 2K Games are expected to release Civilization V on Linux through Steam later this year, leaving Android as the only platform where no genuine Sid Meier games can be purchased.
It’s time for this to change.