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Retronauts Micro Brings You the Soothing Sounds of SNES SimCity

This week, we honor one of the more unsung SNES soundtracks.

Article by Bob Mackey, .

Without a doubt, SimCity stood as a pretty big feather in the Super Nintendo's cap—no, not the Super Mario World kind.

While the Genesis had a few years on Nintendo's 16-bit machine, the SNES managed to succeed by delivering more than the expected. Sega's console made waves by bringing arcade-style experiences home—an impressive feat back in the early '90s—but the always different Nintendo decided to take an alternate route. Sure, there were upgrades of classic 8-bit games like Super Mario World, but the Super Nintendo's first year also gave us a flight simulator (Pilotwings), a (kinda) 3D racer (F-Zero), and the city building sim that's the subject of this very episode.

Truthfully, this Super Nintendo port probably isn't the best way to play SimCity. After decades of sequels, this first installment feels shockingly primitive, and steering a pokey cursor around with a d-pad doesn't make for a great mouse substitute. But SNES SimCity remains the most memorable version of Will Wright's groundbreaking, genre-defining game, if only for the veneer of "Nintendo-ness" it paints over a relatively dry experience. The SNES port drops this former PC game into the world of 16-bit production values, turning Wright into a green-haired cartoon character, as well as throwing Mario and Bowser into a setting very unlike the Mushroom Kingdom. But the most impressive addition to this version of SimCity comes in the form of Soyo Oka's soothing, non-intrusive soundtrack.

Even though she worked for the company for nearly a decade, Soyo Oka isn't one of Nintendo's most well-known composers. And that's a real shame, since her early Super Nintendo soundtracks, like Pilotwings and Super Mario Kart, really helped define the distinct qualities of the Super Nintendo's sound chip.

But why keep blathering on when you can listen for yourselves? So put some headphones on, sit back, and enjoy one of the more unsung soundtracks on the Super Nintendo—along with a few other surprises.

Download Links

Libsyn (21:21 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud)

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  • Avatar for Dreamcaster-X #1 Dreamcaster-X 3 years ago
    Looking forward to a listen, I played this game so much back in the day. I bought it on a whim not thinking I was going to like it & ended up loving it.
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  • Avatar for SuperShinobi #2 SuperShinobi 3 years ago
    It was a decent, although somewhat belated port of the original 1989 Amiga and Mac classic. I thought shoehorning Mario and Bowser into the game was unnecessary, but the added soundtrack had its moments. In the end I did find it a tad too intrusive for such a lengthy and contemplative game and had to turn the volume all the way down. Also the pad controls were not as good as the mouse controls of the original version, as is always the case with RTS games.

    The genesis wasn't all arcade action and had a good selection of strategy games including the equally groundbreaking Populous (better than the SNES version), Power Monger and milestone RTS classics Dune 2 and Herzog Zwei, neither of which was released on the SNES.Edited August 2015 by SuperShinobi
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  • Avatar for vagabondarts #3 vagabondarts 3 years ago
    Which one of you does the cool watercolor title cards?? I'm trying to learn watercolors myself. Just wanted to say I really love them.
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  • Avatar for Vonlenska #4 Vonlenska 3 years ago
    As much as I love the house-y, oh-so-videogame-y Genesis/MegaDrive sound chip, I really like the way SNES games sound, especially early ones. This is a really pleasant and nostalgic soundtrack.

    The absolutely gorgeous Orchestral Game Concert version of "Village" needs a place at this table, too.
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  • Avatar for Don-Rumata #5 Don-Rumata 3 years ago
    @vagabondarts Parish does the artwork for Retronauts.
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  • Avatar for jeremyparish #6 jeremyparish 3 years ago
    @vagabondarts Thanks! I've been creating the cover art. Trying to jump-start my vestigial art skills.
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  • Avatar for Daryoon #7 Daryoon 3 years ago
    I loved the way the music evolved alongside your city. It's something I really missed with the later games.
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  • Avatar for vagabondarts #8 vagabondarts 3 years ago
    @jeremyparish It's awesome man. How long have you been using watercolors?
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  • Avatar for Frosty840 #9 Frosty840 3 years ago
    The SNES SimCity soundtrack was wonderful. The way the core tune was retained through all the evolutions of the city from village up to "megalopolois" was inspired and really tied the whole game together.
    It's a soundtrack I've been going back to for nearly twenty years. Great stuff and thanks for writing about it.
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  • Avatar for BobbySmithy #10 BobbySmithy 3 years ago
    I gotta thank you for this. This soundtrack hits me right in the nostalgies. I used to sit in my older cousin's room at my grandparents' house and play this for hours, usually when he wasn't home. He eventually got SimCity 2000 on PC and I played that too, but always found myself coming back to SimCity on SNES. It was a great introduction to the genre for a little kid. Also, I used to fill up nearly all my open land with the park tool and meticulously go over spots when I wanted a tree in a particular space. The seasonal changes in this game are really satisfying for some reason. Oh and I have this soundtrack on my phone I love it so much.Edited August 2015 by BobbySmithy
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  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #11 Nuclear-Vomit 3 years ago
    @jeremyparish You're the one to thank for the awesome artwork. They are always light-hearted, comical and visually appealing. The attention to detail is great.
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