The Tower SP
The cult classic sim title ressurected and portable.
Preview by Travis Fahs (Email)
March 10th 2006
The Basics: No, it's not your imagination; The Tower SP is eerily similar to the 1995 computer game SimTower. The first game by the King of Quirk, Yoot Saito, Sim Tower went for a smaller scope, trading in cities for a single towering building that needed to be expanded, maintained and run to keep its occupants happy, or at least begrudgingly willing to part with their dollars. It was a fun, directionless little game that spawned a stronger sequel, minus the powerful Sim license, known as Yoot Tower.
For whatever reason, the Seaman creator and head of semi-independent dev house Vivarium has opted to re-brand his series once again, and Sega is curiously not acknowledging its legacy and pretending it's an original franchise (curious, since the second game was produced by a Sega-owned company), even going as far as to call the title "another feather in Sega's hat of innovation." Unfortunately this leaves it very unclear whether The Tower SP is a port, a remake, or an entirely new incarnation. Visually it closely resembles the original Maxis incarnation, but nothing so far offers a clear answer.
What do we think? SimTower was a classic of early simulation games. It was a great little sandbox to play with, and on the Mac and PC; the perfect game to pick at while working on other things. This quality might help it translate well to a handheld platform like the GBA. That said, much has happened in the genre since then. Even Yoot Tower pushed the series toward a more complex, task oriented feel, thanks to the increased feedback, and complexity of the AI tenants in your building.
It's my hope that The Tower SP is able to learn from these games and create an experience that is competitive with its contemporaries. But then on the other hand, the simplicity of the original may help this title to find a new audience among the diverse age demographics of Gameboy Advance players, so either way it could well hit its mark. Only time will tell as The Tower is de-mystified for us later this month.