Maxis's Yoot Saito-designed SimTower is, in my opinion, the most underrated Sim game out there. While SimCity puts players in control of an entire metropolis and The Sims gives control over individual people, SimTower provides control over a skyscraper. The game was released with little fanfare in 1995 for the PC & Mac and, aside from a single patch/update, no other games have been released in the SimTower series*.

The game begins by giving the player a straight-forward 2D sideview look at a plot of land. After placing a lobby, construction begins. The primary elements of the tower are condominiums (comparable to SimCity's Residential zones), restaurants & shops (which function similiar to SimCity's Commercial zones), and office space (the Industrial zones). There are plenty of other elements that can added as the game progresses, such as hotel rooms, suites, movie theaters, dance halls, and, eventually, a cathedral.

In addition to the meat of the tower, one must also add elements that allow the place to function. Sims demand things such as elevators, stairs, parking spaces (in the underground region), a subway, and much more. The Sims themselves are seen as black people-shaped pixels. Happy Sims turn blue, annoyed Sims turn pink, and just plain pissed-off Sims turn bright red. Sims are generally happy if they don't have to wait for elevators and if the rent and noise levels are kept low. For example, offices and condos do not coexist well if placed adjacent to one another.

Just as in the SimCity series disasters do occur from time to time. Watch out for the terrorist bomb threat and occassional fires. However, if you're lucky your construction crew just might strike gold while building underground.

So what's the point of all this? The main goal of the game is to become a 5-star tower. Stars are awarded for completing certain objectives. For example, once hotel suites are built the VIP will visit your tower. If he likes what he sees, you get your star. Basically, the larger your tower and the happier your Sims are determines your star level.

I was addicted to SimTower when I bought it in 1996. However, as time has marched on the program becomes more and more stubborn. It ran like a dream on Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, but it's had some trouble on faster processors because the simulation just runs too darn fast to be playable. Windows 98 will run the program (at superspeed), but Windows ME refuses to even install it. The game has become so out of date that the official version 1.1 patch for the program is no longer available from the Maxis website. Instead watch for fan sites that offer the patch and even some money cheats and trainers. Chances are the game itself can be found on the discount rack of your favorite software store in a plain CD case with no manual or instructions beyond how to install the program. It's a shame that SimTower has been left in the SimDust, because it really is a joy to play. If you have older computer hardware, I highly recommend it.

* I said the SimTower series. I know about Yoot's Tower, but my point is that there was never a SimTower 2000 or anything like that.