SimTower is a tower management game made by Yoot Saito, and then acquired and published in the US by Maxis in 1994. That means it’s now old enough to smoke and drive, and it’ll be drinking soon. It’s still a great game, but unfortunately doesn’t work on Windows 10, so these days I play it with the help of DOSBox running a Windows 3.1 environment.

Click below to visit the different sections of this shrine:

Installing in 2022

There are no versions of this game still for sale, so you can find and download the game here:
Opens in new window SimTower on Abandonia

You'll also need DOSBox and Windows 3.11, both of which are linked below:
Opens in new window Windows 3.1
Opens in new window DOSBox

There's an excellent tutorial about how to set up DOXBox to play Windows 3.11 games that I used here:
Opens in new window HowToGeek Tutorial on how to install Windows 3.11

You can also sometimes find games like SimTower and others at thriftstores around the place. Even now in 2022, while Goodwill and their ilk seem to have figured out that console games are worth something on the secondary market, PC games still sometimes get overlooked and undervalued. I got SimCity this way, and it's been clearly marked as an educational version, which is fun. I'm pretty sure the features are the same, but it's neat to have a special edition on the case.

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Gameplay Basics

You start out by building a lobby and offices and condos, which will gain you enough money to keep building upwards. Offices pay rent on the first day of each quarter, and you'll need to connect them together with elevators. Only lobbies can go on the first floor.

lobby and office screenshot
Here we have a small tower with a lobby on the first floor,
and offices on the second. One of them's even been rented out!

If you want to mix things up a bit in the early stages, you can also build condos, which house one family each. They pay once when you place them, but do not pay any rent afterwards. This works well if you need a quick cash influx at the beginning of the game. Also, make sure to keep them happy! If they ever get angry and decide to leave, the cost of the unit will be deducted from your balance.

lobby, condos, and office screenshot
Look at those nice condos! Make sure not to put them on the same floor with the offices, or they'll complain about the noise.

As you expand your tower and gain star ratings, you’ll unlock more things to build, like stores, theaters, hotel rooms, and party halls, and can build extensive commercial zones and funnel your visitors into them on the weekends to maximize the amount of money you make from them. Commercial spaces are actually my favorite things to build in this game. They're colorful and have a lot of variety!

commercial zone screenshot
This is an extensive commercial section--note the lobby in the middle and the escalators connecting each floor. This relieves pressure on the elevator system.

And speaking of the elevator system, you'll want to get used to using them-one of the biggest aspects of SimTower is traffic management. Optimizing your elevators to avoid making your tenants angry is a part of the game that will take up more and more time as your population grows. The longer your sims have to wait for a car to arrive, the angrier they will get, and the lower the happiness of your tower will go.

screenshot of angry tenants
Oh no, look at that sea of red! Tenants start out black, turn pink when they're upset, and become red when really angry.

A couple of thing to note here: firstly, folks who are traveling downward will always stand on the right side of the elevator, like those in the pic above. People going up will be on the left. Keeping this in mind can help when you're trying to optimize travel around your tower.

Secondly, if you're ever curious to find out where these folks are going and why they might be mad, you have a handy little magnifying glass tool in your toolbar. You can use that to click on any sim in your tower and get a few details about what makes them tick. The game will even let you name and track them if you'd like to keep tabs on them for a while.

screenshot of the sim details pane
This guy is a little stressed out from waiting too long at the elevator. As you can see in his "Eval" meter, this has affected his overall attitude about the tower he's in.

There are several other buildings that you will unlock as you go along, and I don't want to spoil all the little surprises you will find as you expand your empire upwards. The notes I've made here should get you started, though. Once you unlock that 3-star rating you really get a lot more freedom to go wild!

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Screenshots & Pics

Click to see full version

Screenshot of SimTower Screenshot of SimTower Screenshot of SimTower Screenshot of SimTower Screenshot of SimTower Screenshot of SimTower Screenshot of SimTower

This isn't really a screenshot, but I have the CD version of this game, and I managed to lose the box and case over the years. There wasn't a cover that worked for me over on, so I made one of my own, and it looks really snazzy:

Front of my awesome self designed DVD case for Sim Tower Back of my awesome self designed DVD case for Sim Tower

If you, too, would like to have your own awesome Sim Tower DVD Slipcover, you can dowload the file and print your own on letter-sized paper here:
Sim Tower DVD Cover

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SimTower hasn't been ported nearly as much as Maxis' other games like SimCity and its sequels, but it did get a few ports to other systems that you can sometimes find around the place. Here's an overview of where else you can find this game.

The Tower GBA

The Tower for GBA is a basic port of the PC game, with a few changes made in order to have it run better on the limited Game Boy Advance handheld. There are more limits on what you build, and a more robust help system. Several mechanics have been changed, and there are certain rooms that you can select and tap "A" on in order to help clean them, or attract customers. A few of the other changes included are listed below:

So far I've actually only played up to a 3 star tower. Like the PC game, at this point I need a successful VIP visit and I've been struggling to make sure all their needs are met. One thing I do like about this is that there's a lot more feedback during the visit. In the PC version, you get a message at the end of the visit saying "They seem to have had a good stay" if you did well, but otherwise you're left waiting and hoping until they leave. In the GBA version, your tutorial guide, Professor Yama, will provide you with more detailed feeback at the end, and you can see him as he travels around the tower. Hopfully I'll get past this stage eventually, so that I can write up a more complete list of differences.

Overall Feelings

I'd say this is a really fun port. I enjoy the few differences, but they're not pervasive enough to make it feel like a completely different game, and it still maintains the feel of the original. I did need to wait a while before the English version showed up on Ebay, though. It wasn't too expensive once it did--I think I paid about $30 USD for it--but it didn't sell a whole lot when it came out, so it's relatively rare here. The Japanese version can be found really easily, but since I'm not fluent in Japanese and this is a text-heavy game, I wouldn't say this is one that can be played without a translation. Naturally, this is only a concern if you're interested in owning physical versions of your games, because it's still available as a ROM that you can play in an emulator. I will warn you, however, that in the one I was using (Retroarch for Android) I experienced a game breaking bug. Once my tower got past a certain size, it would freeze up and I just couldn't play anymore. Hopefully your mileage will vary.


These aren't super great, but my GBA is front-lit only, so I've tried to make them as clear as possible.

Thumbnail for SImTower SP gameplay Thumbnail for SimTower SP gameplay Thumbnail for SImTower SP gameplay Thumbnail for SImTower SP gameplay Thumbnail for SImTower SP gameplay Thumbnail for SImTower SP gameplay Thumbnail for SImTower SP gameplay Thumbnail for SImTower SP gameplay

The Tower DS

This one was only released in Japan, and seems to have never gotten an English translation. As such, I haven't really been able to play it, although you can find it emulated online. From what I've been able to tell, there are a few sprites that have been changed, but otherwise it's pretty similar to the Game Boy version. If anyone out there has some experience with it, let me know!

Yoot Tower

Yoot Tower is the official sequal to SimTower, but never really took off well in the US. Although I played SimTower a lot growing up, I don't really remember hearing about this one when it came out, so it may have just missed its time. That said, it generally gets good reviews, but is supposedly quite a bit harder than the original. I've spent a little bit of time with it, and couldn't ever quite get the hang of it the way I've done with the first. Eventually, I would like to figure it out and write up a full review of it as well. It is also abandonware, and can currently be picked up online:
Opens in new window Yoot Tower at MyAbandonware

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Newer Reimaninings and Tributes

Project Highrise

Proejct Highrise was released in 2016 and was specifically aimed at old fans of the SimTower games. You can certainly tell the developers were fans of the game themselves, because it's got all of the same elements--star ratings, offices, condos, shops, etc--but goes more in depth than the original game ever could have. I currently have over 40 hours in this game on Steam, so I certainly think it's fun and would recommend it if you liked the original. There are a few drawbacks, however. The first is that there's no real elevator management beyond making sure all the floors are connected. For some, I'm sure this is actually a plus, because I feel like many players didn't really like that aspect of the game, so you may not even be bothered by that. The second is that as you get further in the game, management can get a bit overwhelming. In all of the towers I've had so far, I've reached a point where I get a ton of electrical system, water, cable, and tenant evaluation failures and it gets a bit frustrating to juggle it all. It may be that I'm just not good enough at it, yet, though, so I don't think it's a massive drawback just yet.

Opens in new window View Project Highrise on Steam

Mad Tower Tycoon

I've just purchased this one recently after having it on my wishlist for a while, so my review will be coming soon!

Opens in new window View Mad Tower Tycoon on Steam

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