And Its Name Was Micropolis
Looking way back into a grainy, old memory I see someone sitting at a desk in a suburban bedroom lit by a yellow monochrome monitor. Scratchy sound coughs and emits from the PC speaker in the case sitting on the desk. The boy cursors around, looking over a small grid of boxes and lines and a little squiggle comes into view, crossing the lines. The speaker crackles in what one suddenly realizes is radio static: “This is simcopter-1 reporting heavy traffic!”
The computer was a 286 PC that ran at 12Mhz if you pushed in the big, round Turbo button on the case with a heavy click. The game is the original IBM PC-Compatible version of SimCity from Maxis. It wasn’t Will Wright’s first game — that was Raid on Bungeling Bay if memory serves, but it was first created for the Commodore 64 the way Raid was, and it actually was inspired by Raid. He found the drawing out of the roads and city blocks to be far more interesting and addicting than the actual game he was drawing the cities for.
While in development it was called Micropolis, and over 25 years after the Commodore 64′s heyday, the game’s code has been cleaned up, tweaked, and released as open source with all Sim references removed at EA’s behest under the GNU GPL. Look for ports to just about anything and everything under the sun in the near future.
How can you play it right now? It looks like the best shot you have is if you’re running Linux, but some folks are digging into getting it running on Windows and MacOS. The Official Micropolis Project Page has more information.