Apparently This Matters: The new 'SimCity'

"SimCity" lets you lay out your very own city from scratch, then mess with it.

Story highlights

  • Jarrett Bellini checks out a trial version of the updated "SimCity" video game
  • The game lets you lay out your very own town from scratch and manage its budget
  • Bellini: "What can I say? I like to name things in my pretend community"
  • Online buzz has been building for the game, which comes out March 5

Despite the fact that basic math and science cause me to bleed from my ears, I once confidently oversaw the design and construction of a fully functional nuclear power plant that provided safe energy to thousands of people. Hell, I even placed it next to a playground. And for decades it never once experienced so much as the slightest hint of disaster.

Until the monster came.

"Sir, you better take a look at this."

"Aww, jeez."

Yes, that was a rather dark day in the thriving metropolis of Jarrett-Is-Awesome-Ville.

So, in response, as mayor, I quickly approved funding for a new football stadium. Which didn't seem to help with disaster management.

"Sir, the people would like a word with you."

"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

Of course, I was never really mayor of a town -- I don't wear pants nearly often enough to hold down that kind of job -- but I did enthusiastically play one on the classic city-building simulator, "SimCity."

So, you can only imagine the excitement I felt recently when the Internet suddenly starting buzzing about the upcoming release of a brand new version of the only video game I ever loved. And as more and more mentions of it started popping up all over the Web, one thing became perfectly clear: I wasn't alone in my undying passion for building fake roads.

That said, it's been many years and several epic steps in computer technology since I've actually played the game (it debuted in 1989). However, on March 5, those of us who have long fancied ourselves as urban planners will get a completely modern version of "SimCity" to once again assist us in the gleeful neglect of our jobs, family, and personal hygiene.

Which, when you think about it, is fairly amazing.

"Sim City" shouldn't be fun. Not even a little bit. Essentially, it's local governance. And from someone who just went through the process of obtaining a real-life building variance, I can assure you that City Hall isn't exactly the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese. And it probably has more traces of feces.

Yet, somehow, laying out your very own town from scratch, managing its budget, and occasionally destroying the whole community with monsters and earthquakes is unquestionably appealing.

The true beauty of "SimCity" is that for every disgruntled person who ever said, "This whole place is run by idiots," the game offers a way for you to prove to the world -- or at least, maybe, to your cat -- that you can do better.

And, if nothing else, you can definitely take out all your day-to-day frustrations by bulldozing a train station. You know, without actually bulldozing a train station. Which, after a full week of intense investigative journalism, I can now confirm is "illegal."

So, the other day, as a remarkably distinguished member of the international media, I had the opportunity to play a pre-release trial version of the new "SimCity," thus making it a five-star weekend.

Whatever. You have your major accomplishments in life. I have mine.

Unfortunately, however, on that beautiful and momentous Saturday I actually had to borrow my friend's PC laptop to do so -- which made me feel both confused and dirty. Or at least more so than normal.

Sadly, the Mac version of the game won't be available until later in the spring. So, the cool kids will just have to wait. Which is going to be tough.

Seriously, if I was a grizzly bear I'd probably just hibernate until late April, wake up, stretch, murder a bunch of salmon, and then immediately download the new "SimCity."

And then murder more salmon. Because I'm a grizzly bear. Who owns a MacBook Pro.

So, here's what I can tell you: The graphics are really pretty. And it's very thorough. Very. I can't confirm this, but it's entirely possible that you have to choose interior wallpaper for the local VD clinic.

Also known as the future home of The Purell Center.

What can I say? I like to name things in my pretend community. Our future Major League Soccer team will play in the Bill and Melinda Gates Terror Dome!

Aside from the updated, fancy graphics and insane attention to detail, the other notable highlight of this new version of the game is the option for multiplayer and multicity. You can actually manage up to 16 towns at once and compete against other people. Though, personally, I prefer to make "SimCity" a simple, private affair. It's much easier to willfully launch a tornado on the trailer park when you don't have to answer to anyone.

Except The Sims. Your citizens. Who I imagine will be super enthusiastic to live in my temporary disaster housing, Joy Acres.

Our motto: "We want you to be happy!"

And why shouldn't they be? They'll have a great view of the nuclear power plant.

"Sir, the people would like a word with you."