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1/07/2018

Running Simcity 2000

This article is a scrap left over from a planned site that never got off the ground.  I'm posting it here in the remote chance it's of interest to anyone.

As Simcity 2000 is a PC game that's well over two decades old at this point, getting it to run on a modern system can be a hassle.  However, you do have several available means to play it.

Option 1. Run the DOS or Windows 3.1 version in DOSBox

The easiest way to play the game today is to buy the pre-configured installation package off GOG.com.  This is the MS-DOS version of the game running through a DOSBox emulator, however, and is limited to a preset resolution (as well as the other limitations of the DOS 1.1 version).

One can also install Windows 3.1 in DOSBox (guide here, mirror here) and install and run the corresponding version of the game through it.  However, keep in mind that Windows 3.1 is not officially supported by DOSBox and performance will not be optimal.

Option 2. Patch and run the Windows 95 version on newer operating systems

This takes a few steps as the game uses a 16-bit installer that is incompatible with modern 64-bit operating systems.

  • If you've already installed Simcity 2000, uninstall it before continuing.
  • Visit this page and get the patch.  
  • Run the program and point it to the DATA folder on your Simcity 2000 CD.  If you are running the game on Windows 7 or above, make sure you check the box to install the load game patch before you continue!
  • Enjoy!

NOTE: You must run the game in 256 Color mode in order for the animations to work properly. Windows 8 and 10 do not use true 256 Color mode, so the animations will not display properly there.

Option 3. Run the Windows 95 version in a virtual machine

This is my preferred method, as it will ensure you can run the game as it was meant to be played.

There are several virtual machine tools available.  I will be showing you how to create and run one via Oracle VirtualBox.  For other virtual machine solutions, consult their respective documentations.

  • For best results, create a Windows 2000, XP or 7 machine.  Windows 95 and 98 are not officially supported by VirtualBox, so performance is poor when running in 256 color mode (which is necessary for Simcity 2000's animations to display properly).  For this example, I will be creating a Windows 7 machine.

  • I recommend at least 10 GB of hard drive space (fixed size) and 512 MB of RAM for optimum VM performance.
  • Install Windows 7 off your installation DVD as normal.
  • Once it's set up, install Virtualbox Guest Additions (via the Devices menu) to get higher resolution support and improve VM performance. 
  • Install Simcity 2000 as normal off of your installation CD.
  • If you get errors on launch, follow the directions for Option 2 above.  Put the required installer on an ISO and load it into your VM's virtual drive.  BurnAware is a free option for creating ISO files.
  • Create a desktop shortcut to Simcity 2000, then right click it and choose Properties.  Under the Compatibility tab, set the program to run in 256 color mode.
  • Enjoy!


The following are self-owned mirrors for all of the third-party patches for Simcity and Simcity 2000 described on my other pages.  I make no claim of ownership for any of them.

Simcity 2000 (Windows 95)

3rd-party Installer

Network Edition

Official 1.1 Patch
Interoperability Patch 1.5
Patched server executable for more frequent updates