GameSpite Journal 10 | Civilization

Sid Meieirís Civilization | Dev.: MicroProse | Pub: Asmik | Genre: Simulation | Release: Nov. 1995

Civilization: Revolution touted itself as the first game in the series to be released for consoles. In a certain sense, this was true. Itís a vastly simplified game with a streamlined interface, which was largely designed with consoles in mind. However, the first entry in the series to actually reach consoles was actually the very first game. Civilization, ported to the SNES by Koei. Koei generally was, and is, known for treating consoles to dense, impenetrable strategy games, and made no exception here. The Super NES version of Civilization plays exactly like the PC original. Itís even one of the few games to include support for the Super NES Mouse, included in Mario Paint, allowing you to truly play the thing the way it was originally intended.

So what is Civilization, anyway? Well, itís a game, and pretty much its own genre, where you start off with a little caveman with a club and a covered wagon, and eventually end up either conquering the world or colonizing Alpha Centauri. The wagon is a settler. It can make alterations to the terrain, paving roads, irrigating farmland, cutting down trees, or building mines. More importantly, it can settle down somewhere (hence the name) and turn into a city.

Cities have a population of workers who gather three fairly abstract resources by standing around in the area around the city. Thereís wheat, which maintains and increases the population of workers. Shields let you construct things in the city, like defensive walls, new units, and various buildings that provide nifty bonuses, including unique wonders of the world which need to be finished before another civilization gets there first. Finally, there are arrows, which vaguely represent the exchange of ideas and traded goods. The more you have, the more points there are to distribute to your tax rate, giving you money to spend on rushed production, diplomatic bargaining, or luxuries to keep all those workers happily standing around outside of town and not sitting home demanding you turn someone into an Elvis impersonator to keep them happy, and progression towards unlocking new discoveries on a huge and complex tech tree. New technologies mainly let you build more stuff in your cities. New buildings, new types of units, and, eventually, the various components needed to make that interplanetary colonization ship.

Meanwhile, the guy with the club? Heís just a guy with a club. Either you want to have him stand in your city and help defend it against other guys with clubs, or you can send him out to explore the world, find new places to build cities, meet other civilizations to trade technologies with or wipe off the map, and sometimes, if youíre lucky, find little huts that give you random, free, awesome bonuses. Later iterations of the series make this initial little caveman totally outdated over time, as opponent AI improves, and combat is made more complex with HP bars and experience. In the original Civilization, though, combat is handled with a single die roll, largely affected by the attack and defense stats of the units involved but random enough that with a lot of luck, that initial little caveman, maybe one time in twenty, can swing that little club of his at a tank and demolish it. More likely though, heíll get killed by barbarians around turn twelve.

By Jake Alley? | March 31, 2012 | Previous: Yoshi's Island | Next: Dragon Quest VI