Being the mayor is easy when you can unleash Bowser at any time


SimCity (SNES)

After my gig at running theme parks all ended in tears (quite literally, in the case of the nigh-on 500 children who bore the brunt of that exploding roller-coaster), I thought my days of planning and construction were over. I had managed to swerve the law on that occasion, because on the islands we operated from there wasn’t any law. But unfortunately my space-world theme park went up in flames and took my job with it, and so it was back to the dole for me. It’s tough on the dole, let me tell you, a tough plate to keep spinning. Don’t listen to the naysayers, the ones who call us scroungers. It’s a 24/7 type of affair.

It was all about job-seeking, and I did my best not to do any. The government paid me well for every job I did not apply for. The more jobs I did not apply for, the more money the government gave me, and I spent every penny I didn’t earn on new dole luxuries to help increase the amount of paid work I was not doing. I worked without rest at not applying for jobs. On long winter evenings I remained in the pub and did not update my CV, and I sprang out of bed at the crack of noon every day just to make certain that I had learned no new skills.

Imagine my displeasure when I saw that I’d been headhunted by one Dr. Wright to spearhead a new city development plan. “Looking at your previous experience with those theme parks, we’re very impressed. It seems you can put together a wonderful creation on a very limited budget,” the good Doctor had said to me. News of the 2-kiloton blast that had blown all the go-karts clear into the sea hadn’t reached him yet, thankfully.

My funds were short and the job office were trying to fix me an interview in KFC, so I thought I’d better take the job and mosey on over, see what was occurring. I had my assistant in with me, The Right Honourable Professor Bartholomew Wildthroat – a colossus in the world of town planning. Never you mind that green-haired bugger Dr. Wright, Barty was the king.

$20,000 certainly didn’t seem like a great “initial outlay” to construct an entire booming city with, but I’d managed to make low budgets stick with the theme parks so what was the trouble? My building console was easy to use, too, allowing me to place Residential, Commercial and Industrial Zones as easy as all that, with my choice of nearly 2,000 plots of land to get building on. I did all the planning, and the little people did all the legwork. I didn’t even have to concern myself with water pipelines or underground car parks or children’s play areas or any of that base stuff, the citizens got by just fine.

It was really just a job that I could take at a wonderful, calm pace. It felt as if I could even stop time to cope with the demands for housing, jobs and… whatever goes into an Industrial Zone. The Crystal Maze, I suppose. And I had the most wonderful, idyllic little soundtrack playing to help me turn my massive plot of land into a bustling Metropolis, which was defined as 100,000 people.

“An easy target, my boy. You’ll get there in no time!” Barty squealed. And I did get there, and the new challenge was to then crowbar even more happy customers in. Ah, that is, happy citizens. But as hard as I tried, I could never get to the Megalopolis level of 500,000 little sardines, all stacked on top of each other. I tried everything, you know, including genetically modified buildings, a 0% tax rate, reclaiming land from the water like the Dutch polders… I even tracked down and bulldozed as many schools and hospitals as I could find in order to install more slums, but nitto.

I forgot to power any of the buildings, of course, so I hastily built two or three humongous coal power plants next to some new-build housing, an excellent location for the residents really, prime real estate. This meant the electricity got to them quicker, increasing efficiency. Mayor Burkey – bringing the power to the people! “Don’t worry about the plumes of smoke enveloping the gardens and parks, dear boy,” Barty advised me. “Toughens them up! It’ll make them choc full of grit! Why, I remember, back in my tweed days…” and he trailed off. But he was right – the citizens would recognise that I was acting in their best interests. I had faith in them, and they me.

The citizen’s survey for the year came in and the blasted townies were out for my head. “The city’s a ramshackle, traffic-laden, crime-ridden pile of pollution!” cried one scurvy housewife. “A plane fell out of the sky and went right through my house the other day!” squawked another. Ingrates! But Barty told me not to worry about the lemmings, that they all have the same tabloid opinions. A font of knowledge, that man.

After indulging in a spot of fraud and embezzlement, I was able to give myself near infinite funds, an absolute necessity given how much it cost to build those urchins a ruddy airport. I used my newfound fortune to get rid of all roads and have my city entirely serviced by railways carrying a total of one train carriage, plus a ship and a plane that went nowhere. Couldn’t complain about road traffic then, could they? There wasn’t any! Talk about using your head!

Crime was a real issue. In one of my high-powered town planning meetings, I had floated the idea of perhaps channeling Sarin gas through all of the town’s sewers in a separate containment pipe, and giving local constabulary the power to push the button when need be. Leave it in their hands to gas any criminals that were in the middle of causing trouble on the streets. Real-time rehabilitation – cut them off at the source. Let the good citizens watch the mangy curs choke to death, Wilfred Owen style. However, Barty talked me down. “We’ll have to pooh-pooh that one, Burkey,” he boomed, “too many human rights issues!  The papers would be all over it! A real minefield, dear boy”.

I met the townsfolk halfway on this one by laying down several Police Stations. Dozens of them actually, since the crime was so rampant. I kiboshed all of the Police Chiefs’ requests for additional funding, however. Well, they were so expensive to build, and I was sure that 40 Police Stations could service one city adequately.

It didn’t stop the citizens from likening my beautiful urban creation to New York in that one Kurt Russell film. See, this is the thing with those ungrateful parasites. They move to a tax haven like mine, and they expect Monte Carlo. Pay for nothing, get everything. Then when someone starts robbing car stereos, I’m the first one they blame. The police services and surveillance need to be paid for, you know. Who’s gonna do it? You?!

Even with their hatred of me, the citizens never got rid of me. How could they? I now held all of the cards. This was no democracy, there were no elections for me to worry about. They all said in the papers that I was doing a lousy job, and I had an 89% disapproval rating. But thanks to my stewardship they were required to pay zero tax, and our coffers were full to bursting. 

We all got richer, and the wheels kept turning. Demand for Residential, Commercial and Industrial Zones remained sky-high. And in the end the only thing I lacked, other than the citizens’ trust, was space to build on so that more unhappy citizens and their suffering families could be squeezed into my favelas. No, those people were stuck with me for life, and possibly even beyond that. I was locked in there, deeply entrenched, appearing to them as an invincible, immovable bringer of doom – but as Barty pointed out, also as a glorious provider of sports stadiums and zoos whenever demanded.

I’m not a man to be tied down though, so in the end I just said sod it and opened up my disaster briefcase. You can forget about that piddly Nuclear Football, this thing allowed me to rain down terror from the heavens, tear chasms in the earth, cry havoc, and let slip the Bowsers of war. And I was able to watch every bit of it, this horrifying retribution against the people who had tried to stand against me. Marvelous!

28 May 2019

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