Regretting Your Sim City Purchase? Here Are Five Other Great Simulation Games You Could Be Playing Instead (Pt 1)

I'm not saying you should acquire these games for free and pretend like you didn't just waste lots of money on a broken game. I'm just saying you could.

I'm not saying you should acquire these games for free and pretend like you didn't just waste lots of money on a broken game. I'm just saying you could.

If you’ll allow me a small, minute instance of gloating, I just need to get this out of the way: I totally called it. And I’m really sorry that I did. What could have been one of the best games of the year has been bloated and stalled by failed servers and contradictory support.

If you feel cheated, slighted, or incredibly bored with your recent purchase of a highly-lauded simulation game, here are a handful of other excellent games you could be playing instead.

Not pictured: hundreds of dissatisfied construction workers. I’m not a very good dictator.


As the name implies, there are three other games in the Tropico series if you’d like to peruse those. Out of the four, I’ve only played the most recent, so I can’t offer any advice on the others. 

That said, I’ve been playing Tropico 4 like a dying man. I don’t know if that metaphor even makes sense, but it should sure clue you into the urgent frenzy I have about this game. Tropico 4 takes place on a poor, barely-developing series of tropical islands. You swoop in to save the day as a benevolent (or not so benevolent) dictator, building infrastructure, attracting industry and tourism, creating a series of horrific accidents for political and religious dissenters who dare to rise against your tyrannical plan for world domination. 

I love this game. I love it so much that, even when oil tankers explode in my tourist bays and volcanic activity wipes out half the population of my island, I don’t throw my laptop out a window and weep hysterically under my covers for an hour (Minecraft, I’m looking at you). 

The biggest flaws I’ve found in the game are technical issues: not being able to build roads under rock formations, pedestrians who don’t understand how streets work, little things. Despite this, and the fact that the first few levels are astonishingly easy, there’s something about this game that absolutely ropes you in. You won’t stay complacent for long, though: I’ve had to play my current level three times, as total warfare has broken out, or my citizens have revolted, or I’ve run out of money so disastrously quickly that my island has basically sunk into the sea. It’s a hard game, but all in all, Tropico 4 provides a exceptionally good time.


How do you feel about adorable animal cannibalism? Because I feel pretty darn good about it. And so does, apparently, Rare. 

If you’ve never played Viva Piñata, you might think that it’s an adorable family-friendly game that teaches children how to take care of papery pets in the garden-home that you can build and customize. You’d be half right. But once the romance dance is over (a maze race and a video clip, arguably the cutest part of the game) and your baby piñata has been delivered, there’s some serious piñata-on-piñata hate. Piñatas have natural enemies in the garden (the Buzzlegums and Raisants, for instance, can’t stand each other and fight at every opportunity) and Sour Piñatas roam in the night.

When a piñata wins the fight, they crack open an enemy and eat the candy inside a shower of gold light. It’s slightly disturbing, and highly entertaining. You can have a handful of gardens in each game, attracting different piñatas to different environments (which helps keep the most argumentative piñatas separate).

Viva Piñata is one of those games that you play on a rainy day. There are goals and other things to accomplish that propel you through the game, but for the most part it’s pretty open-ended. Your goal is to build the most beautiful garden and attract the best piñatas, and what that means is up to you. 


About the author

HC Billings

HC Billings is an excellent gamer, acceptable writer, and laughable parkourist.