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Lost Yoot

Entry 1538 posted in: 3. Gamebits

I honestly thought that I already wrote an item about SimTower on this place, but as Google can’t find it back who am I to contradict that? Google doesn’t has it, ergo it doesn’t exist. The Matrix is closer than you think.

SimTower was a game devised in 1994 by Yutaka ‘Yoot’ Saito and published by Maxis as a kind of spin-off of their popular SimCity series. As a matter of fact the game didn’t have anything to do with the SimCity brand name and its successors (such as SimHealth, SimCopter and Streets of SimCity). Originally Yutaka designed it as elevator simulation software with additional eye candy and released it in Japan before Maxis acquired the rights for the rest of the world.

Because SimCity 2000 was one of my favourite games (this was before I discovered Transport Tycoon, I guess) I needed to have the tower version as well. The trailer looked very promising, but what a bummer it was when I first opened it. The 2D graphics were poor and cheaply animated and all in all the game only had about half a dozen of different rooms to choose from.

What a difference with SimCity that had nine different power plants alone, elaborate residential, commercial and industrial zones and a quite sophisticated budget control system. SimCity 2000 used fake 3D (some called the axonometric viewpoint 2D and a half) that you could turn around to get a better view of things. It contained train stations, airports, harbours, libraries, schools, prisons, army camps… and so on…and so on…

SimTower had none of that all, you could only watch one side of the tower and control the elevators in order to keep the masses moving up and down as fast as possible. And that is were the fun was. This game proved that graphics don’t really count when the concept behind it is daring and fun (a golden rule modern game makers seem to have forgotten).

Despite its simplicity SimTower was (and still is) very addictive and apparently I am not the only one who has the same opinion. There are still several fansites around (for over a decade now) that still attract visitors. It can be downloaded at several places as it has reached the grey area called abandonware.

Yoot Tower

Just like Chris Sawyer did by upgrading his Transport Tycoon to Transport Tycoon Deluxe Yutaka Saito tried the same and released Yoot Tower a couple of years later, but now distributed by Sega games. Yoot Tower didn’t do a lot in the shops; most reviews found it ‘more of the same’ and the initial concept of releasing expansion packs (containing extra locations, alternative towers and rooms) had to be abandoned, although the Japanese release had some extra Towerkits that could be purchased. One of the never developed ideas were a ‘moonbase’ and a ‘cruise ship’ template that could be stuffed with rooms, and of course, elevators…

Yoot Tower websites (and downloads) are harder to find, although last month a rather detailed (and very funny!) playing guide appeared to celebrate the game’s tenth birthday.


Every vintage game that has a small, but dedicated, group of followers has its 21st millennium open source counterpart. OpenTTD and Alien Invasion are amongst the most popular and active ones, other games, like the different incarnations of Open Theme Hospital, start with a lot of enthusiasm, but fail to deliver a playable beta version of the remake. I am a bit afraid that this is the current situation of the open source SimTower as well. The community has a website, a wiki, a forum and, not one, but two games in development: OpenTower Classic and OpenTower 3D. Needless to say that, apart from a downloadable preliminary preview no coding has been done yet. As a matter of fact the community has been very busy lately fighting some internal forum wars about the most efficient programming language to use.

Yoot Attack

All is not well with Yutaka ‘Yoot’ Saito either. He released a couple of tower remakes for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS and invented some weird gaming concepts like Seaman (a virtual fish with a human face, and guided by a voice recognition module) and Odama that tried to combine pinball and warfare (you defend your castle with giant flippers that shoot the balls into the enemy troops, as in this YouTube movie). Needless to say that these games seem to be popular in his homeland Japan, the only country in the world where they do like fish flavoured icecream, but are regarded as terrible stinkers in the rest of the world.

Recently Apple rejected his iPhone concept for a ‘virtual caveman on a lost island’ game, called GABO, because they found it ‘unpleasant’. As a demo trailer on YouTube shows, the game is a bit weird, but unpleasant?

SimTower links
Review at City Empires, contains an (old) interview with Yoot Saito.
Uval And Harel's unofficial Simtower Page
Zellgamers, guide, hints, tips and tower downloads
Walkthrough/FAQ for SimTower
Sean's Page for Sim Tower Help
Smoser2's SimTower Headquarter
McLure's Sim Tower Stuff 2
RoadWolf's SimTower: Review, ‘Cheats’ and Guide (2008)
Scott's Addictions (review)

Yoot Tower links
Astoria Theodor Lauppert's Yoot Tower (review)
ATPM review
GiantMike review
A Misacrope's Guide and Commentary for Yoot Tower(2009)


Update 2009.07.05
This post was only a few hours old when I received an answer from Mr. D, a semi-admin, of the OpenTower community:

The "Current Situation" you speak of and refer with a blog post of another blog is not the "Current Situation" today. The reason development has been slow has been for a few reasons:
1. Is at the beginning of the year we had to trash what we had in terms of code because it needed an outdated library to run so a new Dev is in the process of writing a new code (Which has evolved into an alpha as seen here).
2. It is a hobby and is taken as such.
3. The Dev's RL lives have to take then away from the Comp. from time to time so there is periods of inactivity.
Now about this "Active Fighting" about programming language. Is is not as you say, a squabble amongst ourselves, but is more like one person creating an account and being "Fanboy" about Python (Programming language). He has not been around the forums in a while so this issue should not pop up again.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: open Theme Hospital - 3 different ones