Ever wanted to play SimCity Societies on your handset? Now you can!

SimCity Societies is a really nice desktop game. While it has no native Windows Mobile (or Symbian) version, the Java (MIDlet) version, compatible with these operating systems, has recently been released. As the now-folded ZIOSoft’s well-known oldie, SimCity 2000 (the only real city simulator for the platform), is no longer available for purchase for Pocket PC’s and SimCity Societies is definitely a very nice upgrade to it, I tested it on my devices right away.


(176*220 screenshots; taken under Jbed on my HTC Oxygen / s310 Smartphone)

(QVGA screenshot; also under Jbed - looks the same on the N95)

Compatibility

It’s compatible with non-(W)VGA Pocket PC’s and MS Smartphones, both QVGA (Portrait) and 176*220 ones. (On Landscape MS Smartphones, the 176*220 version MIGHT work – but don’t even give a try to the QVGA one because it’s Portrait). It’s also compatible with the Nokia N95.

If you have a QVGA device, make sure you get the as the s60v3 QVGA-compatible advertised version. If, on the other hand, you have a 176*220 MS Smartphone, get the version meant for the Sony-Ericsson W810. These are different because the game engine doesn't use dynamic resizing.

Getting, installing

The main page of the game is HERE. After selecting your country, you’ll be given an SMS number where you can order & download the title from. (Yes, I know this is pretty much a PIA. I wish they offered it as a simple purchasable & downloadable JAR file on their homepage. Well, you have to live with this.)

If you have a Windows Mobile device, make sure you install the Jbed MIDlet manager before downloading the game. To do this, just get and install THIS CAB file. After this, you can safely purchase SimCity Societies - it'll be deployed under the right MIDlet manager and you don't end up having to re-purhchase it when you switch one.

Compatibility

As far as other Windows Mobile MIDlet managers are concerned, it doesn’t run under Jblend (at least the installable version of it; I haven’t tested it on models coming with Jblend as a factory-installed, OEM MIDlet manager) and also incompatible with TAO (not that anyone would want to play a full-screen game in TAO, which doesn't support full screen execution...). It, as has already been pointed out, has no problems with Jbed.

I don’t recommend it for (W)VGA Pocket PC users because even the largest, QVGA version will only occupy the upper left quarter of the screen – if it starts at all (it has frozen on me on the Dell Axim x51v; haven’t tested it on other VGA devices).

Verdict

A MUST for all city simulation fans using a non-(W)VGA device. It’s running REALLY great and fast and, thanks to Jbed, has great in-game music – even on a non-overclocked TI OMAP-based phone.

Incidentally, the speed, music etc. of this game certainly shows Java MIDlets have indeed become a SERIOUS alternative to native games on all mobile platforms.

Additional info

The MIDlet bible

Cross-posted to (might be worth checking out for additional info / discussions!): PPCT, AximSite, XDA-Developers - 1, XDA-Developers - 2, XDA-Developers - 3, FirstLoox, BrightHand, HowardForums, SPT, MoDaCo, PocketGamer.org, PocketGaming.de.

risidoro, if you have a dialpad & thumbboard-less Pocket PC, then, you'll need to assign these keys to a hardware application button with an external tool: either MortScript or, (if and only if you don't need *) VJKeyPress or PQzII. See the Button Enhancer Bible for more info.

Graft, I agree that it isn't as good as the desktop version. However, compared to how some other game developers "dumbed down" their products, it's still pretty decent and playable, particularly when you take into account that, today, there isn't any official Simcity derivative (or, not even a clone) for Windows Mobile - except for emulation (which doesn't work in several cases; see for example how bad SimEarth behaves under the various Pocket PC DOS emulators.). Let me, for example, mention how bad the Pocket PC version of Exosyphen Studios' titles are (see THIS if interested).

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