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.
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