Dr. Wright's Urban Planning Guide
Dr. Wright's Urban Planning Guide is the manual for the SNES port of SimCity made by Nintendo. While most video game manuals are short booklets that try to describe the game in as few words as possible, this one is 84 pages long, gives detailed instructions on how to play the game, build successful cities, and various ways to toy with the game, and is all color and fully illustrated. Unfortunately, the authors are not credited.
After I got my SNES around 1992, the first game I bought for it was SimCity. I tried playing the game without even bothering to look at the manual and found myself totally lost. After resetting my game a couple times, I finally started reading through the manual. After following the guide for the practice city and getting my bearings, I began a real city. The manual was an invaluable guide for the game and it teaches you all the dos and do-not-dos of the game. I've since read it several times through.
I own a well-worn copy of this book (it's missing some of the outer pages), and have read it multiple times.
- The book uses a nice and consistent layout that fits the theme of the game.
- The book includes detailed step-by-step instructions for everything.
- There are hundreds of screenshots which really give you a feel for everything the game has to offer.
- I really like The Wright Files section which shows a variety of cautionary tales on how not to build a city. Using real-life locations really adds to the verisimilitude.
- The book encourages you to have fun with the game in different ways, like by modelling your own city, or creating art with the various buildings.
- Although describing the game in terms used for real cities makes the book more interesting, the reality is, the game functions of basic algorithms. So, optimizing population is really a product of gaming the algorithm, not making a city that makes sense. Because of this, it's actually better to not follow some of the advice in manual in order to achieve an optimal city. For example, in the game, police departments do not need road access to function, so it will save your city money in the long run to build them away from roads even though the manual's screenshots suggest you should.