The Sims became such a cultural phenomenon is the first decade of the new millennium that EA began to milk the brand for all it's worth. Very few of the cash cows were whole new games, let alone developed outside of Maxis, the company that birthed it. Sid Meier's SimGolf is such a game, and offers a whole different style of strategy to play with.
In a short-lived partnership, Maxis gave Firaxis Games - who are best known for the Civilization series - the opportunity to develop a game under the Sims brand. While we have yet to see Maxis develop much from their partner's lineup, they did develop a Sid Meier skin for the Sims.
Perhaps the closest game SimGolf resembles in play style is not from either company's back catalogue, but the likes of Theme Park and Theme Hospital. You place your courses on the 2D isometric landscape and garnish them with landmarks and foliage. There is also a fair amount of money management and you try to coax new golfers to your club.
What it does take from The Sims is not just it's interface and SimSpeak, but you do have a single golfer under your wing. This character whose default name is Gary Golfer can be altered to your liking. He will even grow and improve the more he plays in a very minor but welcome RPG element.
All golfers have their own unique stats in three areas: length, accuracy and imagination. Length refers to how far they can hit the ball, accuracy is how straight their aim is and imagination is their ability to perform trick shots like curve balls and using the scenery to their advantage. How good your courses are are dependent on these three skills as well. If your customer base are fairly green to the sport, they will not much like difficult courses. They will tell you your thoughts through speech bubbles that appear over their head as they play, and if it's particularly noteworthy event, Gary will make sure you know about it. Essentially they have to look hard, but play easy.
The main crux of the game is strategy, but you also have the ability to play your own courses. As a golf sim, SimGolf isn't exactly realistic. You don't have to worry about air speed, wind direction or angry ex wives, but you at least have some idea as to where your ball will land. It's quite satisfying to play your 18 hole course after you've spent hours designing and developing it.
When the game shipped in 2002, it gained decent review scores, but it initially came with a game-breaking bug. If your fairways were too big, the game would crash. A patch was released soon after but this coupled with the low resolution 2D graphics at a time when 3D polygons were king lead to slow sales. It would not be long until it would no longer be supported and in stark contrast to The Sims, no addons were released. It has yet to resurface on any of the digital stores, including EA's own Origin platform.
Sid Meier's SimGolf is one of the most entertaining management strategy games that do not take place in a theme park (although you can add them later on as an added landmark). It is also one of the most accessible with it's easy to pick up and understand yet not quite as difficult to master mechanics that separate this from other games of it's ilk. It's definitely worth a play.
To download the game, follow the link below. This is a custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber will run natively on modern systems. Tested on Windows 7.
Sid Meier's SimGolf is © Electronic Arts
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me