I’ve spent hours of my life toiling over virtual cities in Maxis’ Sim City series, and it must have rubbed off after all these years. I still enjoy meticulously planning infrastructure, zoning and carefully tweaking finances to this day.
The other day whilst trying to work, I accidentally (oops) went looking for some online heirs to the Sim City throne. Despite simple Flash games lacking the depth of even the original Sim City, I guessed there had to be a few decent, free city building games out there.
A simple turn-based Flash game created by New Zealand energy company Genesis Energy to give players young and old a shot at managing a town or city’s growth and impact. Players must pay close attention to the levels of energy used, sustainability and environmental factors.
Players are given 151 turns to alter tax rates, build things, destroy things and generally oversee the planning of a city from an environmental point of view. It is up to you to keep your citizens happy, maintain finances and get the highest score possible out of 100 available points.
If you’re seeking inspiration then there’s plenty of completed cities to gawp at, and you can even save your progress and come back to it at a later point. Remember – it’s all about balance.
A very in-depth city management game that allows you to choose one of four aspects of city life to manage – energy, water, retail and banking. This game also uses a turn-based system which scores you after each turn made.
There’s a fairly chunky registration form to fill out before you can play (which asks for all sorts of intrusive data) but the game itself functions well, especially if you’re a business-minded individual.
Your city starts off sketchy and greyscale, with colour gradually introduced as you implement much-needed change. At times it plays like a big advert for IBM, but remains enjoyable and looks pretty good to boot. Probably not great on slower PCs, especially those with an aversion to resource-heavy Flash.
Not necessarily a simulation or a management game, City Creator simply allows you to do just that – create a sprawling landscape from a set of pre-fabricated buildings and features.
The game features charming pixel art from and an isometric viewpoint, which complements the laid back style of play. Simply drag items from the left hand side of the screen to your city on the right and see what you come up with.
There are 3 building sets to choose from, each with their own unique style. If you register on the site you can save your creations and share them with your friends. If you just want to build a city then City Creator should entertain for a while at least. Be sure to check out their other project Castleford.
Zanpo Virtual Cities
Lovers of Minecraft and pixel art rejoice in this Flash block-based city building game. Instead of building preset structures and features Zanpo Virtual Cities allows you to build fairly detailed city blocks using individual building pieces.
Users then vote on the best ones, and they get added to the virtual city. This one strikes me a bit like online Lego, and the emphasis is very much on building and not management.
You’ll need to register to build, or you can simply choose a city from the drop down list and click City View and see what everybody else has been building.
I know, I know. You’re sick of FarmVille, so why on earth do you want to hear about CityVille? Well considering there’s already more than 20 million people playing it I figured it would be an injustice to not include it on the list.
If you’re fine with yet another application accessing all your personal data and posting whatever it feels like to your wall then CityVille might appeal. The game is a casual Sim City-esque sim in which you take a humble town and turn it into a sprawling metropolis.
Graphically the game looks awesome, and there’s the added social interactions provided by the Facebook platform. If only it didn’t clog up your feeds, eh?
There are a few more Facebook games, that I’ve left out (it’s quite a saturated market, and Facebook isn’t for everyone). If you’re interested, they were:
Have you found any other cool city building games? Do you prefer building or managing? Let us know in the comments!
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