How to Install SIM City on Vista

Written by c.j. heller
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Remember spending valuable hours constructing the cities of the future with glee, only to have them destroyed by a mechanical alien or engulfed by the flames of a giant wind storm? Those were the days---the days of SimCity. Many older computer games may not work on newer operating systems, such as Windows Vista, released in 2007. However, you don't need to be a computer genius to "beat the system," to install any of the four versions of the SimCity game and to build cities to your heart's content. This will require a bit of trial and error, as every computer system is different. What may work for you may not work for someone else. If one step doesn't work, move on to the next one.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Computer with a legal copy of Windows Vista installed
  • Legal copy of SimCity Classic, SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000, SimCity 4 or SimCity Societies
  • Internet connection

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    Playing Tricks on Your Computer

  1. 1

    Purchase a copy of your favourite SimCity game. You are likely to find SimCity 2000 or SimCity 3000 in clearance bins in major electronic stores such as BestBuy or the warehouse stores like Walmart. SimCity 4, which was released in 2003, and SimCity Societies, the latest release in the franchise from 2007, are likely to be in the regular, alphabetised computer game sections. You can also find a legal copy of a SimCity game on the Internet.

  2. 2

    Install and run a SimCity game on Windows Vista normally. Your machine may be configured in a way that the game will work without any tweaks. For example, computers with Intel Celeron processors work slower than those with Pentium processors. Every machine is different and you should try loading the game right out of the box. At the very worst, your computer will freeze or crash. If this happens, reboot.

  3. 3

    Install and run SimCity as an administrator. You may or may not be the administrator of your own operating system. In any case, sometimes older computer games will only run if you have administration control. If you plan to run the game on an office PC, you may not be able to change such settings. But if you are installing it on your own personal computer, you can. In any case, you can opt to change "admin" privileges for specific programs, such as games. Right-click the main program file in your SimCity game's directory, which is an .exe file that you would normally double-click to run the game. Choose "Properties," then "Security." The users who use your computer will be listed. If it is just you, then "Administrator" will likely be the only name listed. In this case, skip this step. If another user other than "Administer" is listed, go to "Permissions for Administrators" and check "Allow" for all options. Now try to run and play your game.

  4. 4

    Run SimCity on a "phoney" version of an older version of Windows. SimCity 4 and SimCity Societies were released when Vista was still relatively new and the most common Windows operating system installed on new PCs was Windows XP. As a result, it is expected that Windows XP is the ideal operating system on which to run SimCity 4 or SimCity Societies. Therefore, you are going to have to fool your SimCity game into thinking Windows XP, or another version, is your operating system. Fortunately, Vista makes it easy to do this. Right-click the main program file in your SimCity game's directory and click on "Properties." Choose the Compatibility tab and change the option to the Windows of your choice and try to run the game by double-clicking the main program file. Try Windows XP first. Now double-click the program to run the game. If the version of the game you installed is unable to run on your "virtual Windows XP," the program will either freeze or crash. Repeat the procedure and choose to run the program file under a different version of Windows.

  5. 5

    Run SimCity on an emulator, which runs older computer games on contemporary machines. ScummVM is a good emulator (see Resources). Install ScummVM and open the set-up file for SimCity through it. Follow the instructions and install the game to a directory of your choice, then run it through the emulator. This works well for SimCity Classic. Newer versions may not run as smoothly as their graphics are more advanced.

  6. 6

    Play an online version of the original SimCity game, if all else fails. The original SimCity is now called "SimCity Classic" and is located on the SimCity Electronic Arts website. You will have to register at the site.

Tips and warnings

  • ScummVM and other emulators are used to run many older computer games of all genres. This includes some of the SimCity games, such as SimCity 2000 or SimCity 3000. But because those versions of SimCity are not as outdated as SimCity Classic, it is most likely that changing the administration or operating machine settings for them will suffice and you will not have to use an emulator.
  • After installing any version of SimCity, it is advisable to reboot your PC before running its program file. Installing any program modifies the computer's registry, which regulates the settings on your system. A reboot will ensure that the operating system takes the most updated settings into account when loaded, which means that there's a better chance your game will work.

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