The last (as of this writing) installment in the SimCity series of construction sims by Maxis. The game suffered an extremely protracted development period, where it was initially reported that the graphics were to be represented in polygonal 3D instead of isometric sprites. In the end this didn't happen. Instead, the 2D graphics were improved substantially from the previous version (SimCity 2000). A few new features were added, including waste management and real-life landmark buildings.

Sadly, as with all post-SimCity 2000 Maxis games, SC3K suffers from an over-complicated, unintuitive and unresponsive interface and fairly mediocre production values. Because there are no new gameplay elements added to what is essentially a decade-old and fairly novelty-based idea, it becomes a chore to play very quickly. In summary then, SimCity 2000 is better than SimCity 3000 in gameplay terms. Transport Tycoon and (if you like) Rollercoaster Tycoon are better than both of them. The Sims is of course far, far worse than all of the games mentioned here.

Back in the day, music was at best four channel square waves sent through the internal speaker on the computer -- at best. More often than not it was just a single simple tone or melody (I can still hear the 'da da da duh da da' of Lemon-aid for the Apple ][+ from the start of a new day). Games were produced on budgets that were maybe a thousand or two thousand dollars - sometimes more with the big name production houses. Even then, this went to programmers - the game was the most important thing. The graphics where simple, they had to be to fit on a 144k floppy disk.

In today's day and age of computer games 144 kilobytes is nothing - or close to it. 100 kilobytes is one tenth of a megabyte, which is about one five-hundredth of what fits on a CD, or even smaller fraction of a DVD. Games are no longer confined to a single unit of media and often span several CDs or DVDs. With this added space the quality of the graphics has increased and often the game (though this is not always the case). Historically, the most consuming space was high quality sound - though with mp3s this has been drastically shrunk. People want the entire experience of the game now - the graphics, and the music.

With larger budgets, and the demands from consumers, game producers now go out and commission new and original music for their games. With better storage space and quality of speakers (rather than the tinny internal speaker), composers are not embarrassed to have their music played as part of a game.

The music of SimCity 3000 is available on CD from Maxis (and now available online from Electronic Arts -

 1 sim broadway
Starting out with strong piano chords and rapidly moving to a more jazzy feel that is reminiscent of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with a clarinet and violin. When listening to this track, my mind wanders back to watching Fantasia 2000 featuring this piece. Throughout the song, the clarinet sings on top of a consistent piano rhythm. The melodic phrase of trio of the piano, clarinet and violin is repeated often, growing each time to a crescendo and finally fading out at the end to silence.

Run length - 6:02

  • Jerry Martin - Synthesizer
  • Darol Anger - Violin
  • Mary Fettig - Clarinet
  • John R. Burr - Piano
  • Paul van Wageningen - Drums
 2 building
'Building' starts out with a quiet synthesizer that is reminiscent of a harp or harpsichord. Layered on top of this are the sounds of a guitar and bass guitar. Like its predecessor and successors, it is rather repetitive in the musical phrases, however this track is one long act of building with each layer being added slowly and evolving in complexity. The tempo is even, in no particular rush to finish. Though, when it does come time for it to finish, each layer drops out rapidly leaving a twinkling of notes that suddenly finishes.

Run length - 6:01

  • Jerry Martin - Guitar and Synthesizer
  • Glenn Letsch - Bass
  • David Laiser - Drums
  • Richard DeGraffenreid - Percussion
 3 magic city
Low chords from a piano and violin - the piano setting the rhythm as the violin jumps from note to note - to be joined later by a soprano saxophone that sings a simple "da ^da^ vdav da". Building in tempo and moving up the scale the layers build. An abrupt silence and change back to that of the start. The low chords all but pounded from the bottom range of the piano. This time, the saxophone sings a less punctuated phrase slurring across three notes - "da-vdaaav-daaa...". As the tempo picks up the saxophone returns to its original phrase. As the last third of the track starts, the saxophone is absent until halfway through when it returns with its more relaxed notes. The piano hammers out relentless chords - slowly fading out. silence.

Run length - 6:06

  • Jerry Martin - Piano
  • Darol Anger - Violin
  • Rock Hendricks - Soprano Sax
 4 new terrain
A watery synthesizer sound that waves back and fro - refusing to stay on a single note and rocking back and forth. A high pitched violin toys about the upper octave. The synthesizer changes from watery to a punctuated staccato with a bit of an echo that builds in volume with notes that begin to blur into each other as the music grows. The violin continues its simple song on top of this providing a smooth counterpoint to the calliope of notes beneath it. Beneath all, the synthesizer adds a new sound that harkens back to the previous track of the relentless piano at the bottom end of the range - playing a three note run. The synthesizer, continuing on with its notes and the violin continue above this base line. Then the violin leaves, and the synthesizer slowly returns to its wavy sound and fades out with fewer and fewer notes.

Run time - 5:42

  • Jerry Martin - Synthesizers
  • Darol Anger - Violin
 5 updown town
A very jazzy track with trumpet, snare drum, bass and piano. Brushes play across cymbols as a piano taps out its notes. A trumpet comes in singing its song. Very classic and traditional jazz band feel in a restaurant. Listening to the trumpet and piano trade off melody lines you can picture yourself in a nightclub of sorts - band on stage with a light haze of overpriced cigarettes and quiet mummer of conversations around.

Run time - 3:42

  • Eddie Ramirez - Trumpet
  • Marc Russo - Sax
  • John R. Burr - Piano
  • Ruth Davies - Bass
  • Don Veca - Drums
 6 night life
Very similar to the previous track though a bit less of the improvised feel. Punctuated trumpet, sax and piano sing together - the same set of notes with no deviation between them with a light base and drum line under it. The piano breaks off to its own support line as the sax and trumpet walk up the notes. The saxophone now takes off on its own singing away with the occasional pause for the piano to answer with a chord or two at a time. Then it is the trumpet's turn to converse with the piano. Muted as it is, it still sings out its tune. Finishing with long held notes, it is now time for the piano to have its turn - a pure solo without a peep from its companions. Fingers walk all across the range of the piano, occasionally complementing itself with one hand. As the track ends, the three join back together in an echo of the beginning and climb to a crescendo and then silence... but not before the saxophone gets the last word.

Run time - 6:28

  • Eddie Ramirez - Trumpet
  • Marc Russo - Sax
  • John R. Burr - Piano
  • Ruth Davies - Bass
  • Paul van Wageningen - Drums
 7 power grid
A solo composition consisting entirely of synthesizer. Clashing metallic sounds start off to be complimented with watery sounding voice samples. Low frequency electronic buzzes are added to join in. Sounds that are reminiscent with flexing metal. Then, a recognizable melody and rhythm emerge for a bit. It thumps across the lower end of the range to be joined by other electronica (on the airy side) in the middle range walking up and down a scale a few times. The electronica grows in volume to be joined by jagged sounding notes - the base returns with stronger force. The layers fade back to feature this base line. Slowly it fades back.

Run time - 5:46

  • Jerry Martin - Synthesizer
 8 infrastructure
Another solo synthesizer composition. This track starts out with a rhythm reminiscent of bongo drums as electronic notes swell behind the simple beats of the drum. Switching to a different theme, the electronica picks up in pase to a constant run of notes. A more complex rhythm is built on top of the old one - though in occasional moments of silence it can still be heard providing a consistency between the themes. Again higher pitched and faster electronica, combining with the previous theme of electronica and the complex rhythm. Joining together an almost dog-whistle pitch sound is heard at the very edge - for half a second every 4 seconds. The middle drops out leaving the base and a cascade of notes at the top. The bongo becomes stronger. The theme continues. As it all fades out, a quick beat of the bongo rings.

Run time - 7:06

  • Jerry Martin - Synthesizer
 9 concrete jungle
A more 'classical' synthesizer piece with notes played by things that almost sound like real instruments. Breathy woodwinds and almost-strings join together with individual notes popping up in a rhythm that is almost at random. As a clarinet-esque joins in the individual notes join together in a more recognizable rhythm. The clarinet-esque plays a long legato phrase as brass-ish joins in behind and under it along with various percussion and drums. These new rhythm makers play the offbeat and while in synch over the course of a few measures are distinctly not playing on the same beats as the original rhythm. A horn section joins in answering the clarinet-esque with long legato notes followed by a brassy staccato. The last third suddenly changes with each section playing a few notes to be answered by another section. The new theme has clearly defined beats and the clarinet-esque is joined by a brassy-double red. The end comes abruptly with a joined ba dum.

Run time - 7:00

  • Marc Russo - Synthesizer
10 illumination
Ethereal notes start out. Slowly growing and then fading off. A far off gong and closer tubular bells punctuate the silence between the ghosty notes. The notes take a shape along with the bells to form recognizable musical phrases as adjacent notes are played. Quietly at first, a piano type plays a constant rhythm and flute on top of it - the far off gong is still back there, but it has taken a back seat to the emerging melody of the flute and piano duet. The a clarinet joins into and gradually takes over the conversation for the flute. The piano becomes more pronounced playing larger and more dramatic chords rather than just a few isolated notes. Other keyboard type sounds join in around the strength of the piano's chords. These grown in strength and prominence as the piano overtakes the last remnants of the ghostly notes and distant gong. Slowly, all the layers fade out to silence.

Run time - 7:47

  • Jerry Martin - Piano and Synthesizer
  • Mary Fettig - Flute, Clarinet, and Bass Clarinet
All music was composed and preformed by Jerry Martin with the exception of Concrete Jungle which was a joint effort between Marc Russo and Jerry Martin.

ISBN 0-7845-2179-4

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