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SimCity tops our readers’ list of games made better by cheating

Screenshot: SimCity 2000/EA
Keyboard GeniusesKeyboard Geniuses is our occasional glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the community’s discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity.

Victimless Crimes

In our latest Gameological Q&A, we wanted to hear about games you really started to like only after cheating at them. We shared our answers, and down in the comments, lots of cheating cheaters came out to confess their ways. Like Tony Macaroni, plenty of readers found good reason to cheat their way through building simulators like SimCity:

SimCity and all similar city-building simulations are only really fun if you just play them as a sandbox game with unlimited money. Trying to manage a city budget and bring in revenue is too difficult. It’s more fun to just build whatever crazy type of city one can imagine. I played the Tropico series, and it’s fun trying to deal with all my angry citizens and dissidents demanding jobs and manage exports, but in the end, I just want to get the money to build some coffee plantations and giant beach resorts.


And Johnny summed up the all-too-real frustrations of trying to run a simulated city:

I get a strange impulse to revisit a SimCity game once in a while and always try to play it “honestly,” managing a city budget and bringing in revenue. After a short time, I always end up thinking, “This is kind of bullshit,” and leave it be. I know it can be done, but I feel so annoyed by the SimCitizenry. “We don’t have enough police and fire stations!” “Okay, I’ll build those, but they cost money, so I’m going to raise taxes 1 percent.” “Fuck you, Mayor, we’re moving to another town!”


Otakunomike remembered exploiting a building game of another kind:

In my youth, we had a Dinosaur Park simulation game, kinda like Roller Coaster Tycoon but you were building a dino-park (obviously). The only way we ever got much done in that game was through a money exploit that was so obvious pre-internet 5 year olds could stumble into it.Every once in a while an auction would pop up where you could buy dinosaurs or sell one of your own. What we realized was that if it was your dinosaur being auctioned and you hit the info button, it always counted one particular guy as making a bid when you came back to the auction. Even if he was already the last one to have bid, it made him bid against himself, so you could just hit the info button a ton until you took everything you needed from the poor guy.

If there was one consolation to my childhood morals, it was that I could keep entrance prices at practically nothing since I could always just get more money from this sap when I needed it.


Speaking of the pre-internet, The Space Pope recalled getting adventure-game solutions in the most low-tech of ways:

I’ve gone to the walkthroughs many times in my adventure game-playing career, but I like to think I kept it moderate. The whole fun is figuring things out yourself, of course, but a roadblock is a roadblock. Most recently, Grim Fandango had me dipping out to look at a hint every now and then. There are a lot of obtuse puzzles in what is otherwise a charming game.

Of course, having access to such things is a modern luxury. When I was a kid, I twice actually wrote letters to Humongous Entertainment (through the mail, no less) asking for help with one of their games. (The first Pajama Sam game, for instance.) They wrote back answering my question! It was awesome, but by the time the reply arrived, I’d always figured out the solution on my own. But it was just so nice that they took the time to help little me out.

Years later I bought an anniversary collection of the first three Myst games, which came with an in-game hint system. You’d put in one command for a hint and a different one for full solutions. I like to think I didn’t abuse the system too much, mostly for puzzles that would just be a pain in the ass to solve manually. The mine maze in the original Myst, for instance, held little appeal. So I activated the solution, and this is the text that came up: “I hope you appreciate how much work I put into this.”

The solution followed, and I had a little moment of sheepishness for skipping over someone’s labor-intensive work of art. But seriously, fuck mazes in first-person games. I hates ’em.


Will Riker’s soggy finger likes to alter simulation games of a different sort:

Everyone’s going to jump on me for this, and for good reason really, but Football Manager. Not cheating the results, but the small details about players getting upset and/or demanding transfers for utterly ludicrous reasons, youngsters developing overblown reputations after only playing a handful of games, spates of big injuries in one position happening a bit too often. I use an in-game editor to iron out frustrations like that, which can make big differences over the course of a season (although the AI teams are so inconsistent in terms of results, I’m not sure I’d do much worse anyway) but make the game significantly less frustrating.

Also, I’m really, really obsessive about player names and ability attributes for some reason. A huge number of extremely high-potential players are pumped into the game through the newgens (new batches of youngsters automatically generated at a certain point in the season) to add to the already elevated number in the starting database—to the point where Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi aren’t nearly as special as they should be—so an in-game editor lets me bring them a bit down to earth (aka: a player rated as potentially having 190/200 ability taken down to 165/200). Certain generated player names also just don’t “fit” for me—again, don’t ask why, I can’t tell you—so I’ll change them to ones that work better.


Apples To Apples, Dust To Dust

Photo: Apples To Apples/Mattel

Earlier this week, Samantha Nelson dropped by with another installment of Gameological Unplugged, this time taking a look at the trend of post-Cards Against Humanity comedy games. Samantha mentioned the beginning of that lineage starting with Apples To Apples, and Evan Waters took to the comments to lament CAH’s popularity over its more reserved predecessor:

Truth be told, I don’t like how CAH stole the thunder of Apples To Apples. The latter can still produce some especially dark or hilariously wrong combos, but it doesn’t quite beat you over the head with LOLWACKY stuff.


This prompted a nice discussion about the merits of Apples To Apples’ less overt approach to comedy. Icoulduseasandwich explained the difference:

The difference is humor is a pleasant occasional side effect in Apples To Apples while it’s the goal of the game in CAH. If you’re trying to be funny with unconventional combos with the pedestrian cards from Apples To Apples every single round, it’s going to feel forced in a completely different way. Obviously, the creators of Apples To Apples knew what they were doing when they created cards for horrible dictators (like Hitler or Stalin) and various adjectives, but when everyone is saving their Stalin card for the most absurd adjective possible for the laugh, is that really any fresher?

I don’t think CAH works at all (it feels like a simulation of being in middle school and trying to make your friends laugh by mentioning Hitler and gross sex acts), but I don’t think the answer is to improve upon the content. The formula is tired, and there are now hundreds of games that are build upon the apples to apples foundations (many more than the ones included here) and this feels like a lazy crutch for game designers to use this framework rather than invent a new one.


Providing a nice example of how clean humor can be even funnier than the nasty stuff, Turok Obama recalled an odd game of CAH:

Apropos to nothing, one of the hardest times I’ve laughed while playing CAH was when the Box expansion was poorly shuffled into play, so we were frequently drawing and playing cards like “George W. Box.” CAH is basically the opposite of A2A in that when everything is supposed to be offensive and edgy, the more mundane cards seem hilarious and out of place.


And Miller, well Miller would prefer to make their own jokes, thank you very much:

I love crude and disgusting humor, but what annoys me about Cards Against Humanity is that it gives people props while some of us have been making sick jokes on our own for decades. Like Apples To Apples, it’s playing second-hand wit instead of using your own. This is a snobbish reason to dislike the games, but oh well.

I much prefer Say Anything, in which a player picks one card from an assortment of possible prompts (“If I could marry a fictional character, who would it be?” “A deal breaker on a first date is…”) and everyone else has to write down the answer they think the first player will select. As a nice wrinkle, the first player looks at all answers and secretly selects the winner, then displays all answers for the players to wager on. So even if your answer isn’t picked, you can bet on what you think the selected answer will be and still get points. The game still relies on personal judgment and can be exploited that way but isn’t bound by set answers. Lots of fun.


Start Your Engines

Today is July 8, which means it’s once again time for the Gameological community’s monthly Mario Kart 8 On The 8th event. Master of ceremonies DL has set up the room, and all interested parties will have to do is log onto the game at 8 p.m. Central and look for the race using the code 8841-3051-8197. You can find the rest of the details in DL’s post. Good luck!


That’ll do it for this week, Gameologitrons. Thank you for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all again next week!

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