If you like, you can download a scanned PDF version of the entire 86-page manual (7.2MB), in full color, complete with photos, illustrations and Dr. Wright’s official biography on the back cover. (Thanks to Arne, who found the manual posted at replacementdocs.com.)
If that much reading isn’t for you, and you happen to be playing on the Wii “Virtual Console” just press the “Home” button on your Wii controller to access a neat on-screen instruction manual. It’s much shorter than the original instructions, but it covers enough of the basics for you to get started.
Choosing a Landform
When you begin a new city, the first thing you need to do is choose a “landform” for your city. The game has 1000 pre-made landforms. You get to pick which one you want, but it takes (literally) 10-15 seconds to load each one. You’ll go crazy waiting to see every single one. So don’t! A long time ago, I wrote to Nintendo to ask for their suggestions. They suggested the landforms pictured below: 061, 137, and 714.
These three landforms have the least amount of water (13%, 15% and 15%, respectively). Obviously, the less water there is, the more room you have for building. And the more you can build, the more SimCitizens can move into your city.
What about water supply?
If you’re asking that question, you’ve played one of the newer versions of SimCity. This could be good or bad news: water doesn’t matter in the original SimCity. Less realistic, but less of a pain in the neck… you don’t have to deal with building water pumps, pipes, sewage treatment plants, etc. In this version, water just takes up space. (But as you get closer to using up all available space, you are given the option to build three “landfills” on the water. More details when we talk about “Gifts” in Section 7.)
Which Mode Do I Choose?
As far as I can tell, the only difference between Easy, Medium and Hard is the amount of money you begin with. I don’t think difficulty level impacts any other factors. If you’ll be using the “Million Dollar Code” anyway (which I explain in Section 4) then it doesn’t even matter which mode you choose. If you prefer to play without cheats, go for Easy — there’s no “bonus” for duking it out on Medium or Hard mode, so why put yourself through that?
Next: Get Powered Up
Usually, the first thing you should build in any city is a power plant. None of your zones will develop without power. I strongly recommend Nuclear Power. Yes, they cost more than Coal Power Plants, but they don’t create any pollution… so the higher price is well worth it. Even if you’re playing without cheats and you need to save money, I still say Nuclear is the better option.
Why? As your city develops, you’ll find yourself looking for ways to reduce pollution. It’s tough to get rid of Industrial Zones (since their jobs are what brought people to your city). So you’ll wind up thinking, “Hey, I can replace my Coal Power Plants with nuclear ones.” But you’ve already spent $3,000 for each Coal Power Plant. It’ll cost you $9 to bulldoze them, then another $5,000 for each Nuclear Power Plant. You could have saved $3,009 per power plant by just going with nuclear in the first place.