7+ Best Classic Simulation Games For PC

Some of the best games in my opinion are the old school originals. 3D and 4D games aren't for everyone, and I love taking an hour out of my working day to play a classic game.

Today we're looking at some of the best classic simulation games that were out around the late 90's and early 2000's, well over 15 years ago now. 

There's many more we could have included, but these are all tried and tested. Some are no longer available to buy so you'll need to use sites such as MyAbandonware to download them. 

What's your favourite? Be sure to leave a comment on other games for readers to checkout. 

The Best Classic Simulation Games

1. Locomotion (Chris Sawyer)

  • Build a transport empire
  • Build routes, transport goods/people
  • Hours of endless fun

The Locomotion by Chris Sawyer is a classic building game released in 2004. It is a single-player simulation with the main objective to construct a Transportation Empire. This is a strategy-based game where routes and vehicles need to be built to move items and people around to earn money.

Roads, railroads, airplanes, trucks and many more transportation aspects need to be considered in order to curate a profitable business. The catch is that there are various opponents who also want to make money.

There are several scenarios from 1900-2000 with difficulty settings from beginner to expert. There are small goals throughout these scenarios like reaching a specific company position.

This game is considered a classic due to the level of detail and decision making needed to advance and win. Despite it being a single-player game, there is also multiplayer mode available.


2. Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 Triple Thrill Pack

  • Build a theme park
  • Custom parks or build your own
  • Good for modding online

This is a 2002 construction simulation produced by Chris Sawyer where the acclaimed Six Flags park can be filled with over 150 features such as rollercoasters and food stands.

The player must attract visitors and meet their demands such as through curating restaurants and restrooms and employing staff while making profit and staying within their budget.

This game is a step-up from the previous version due to the option of building structures underground and at high levels. Due to the collaboration with Six Flags, real-life attractions such as Magic Mountain and Great Adventure can be seen.

At the release, this game was praised for the customisation's available and option to build attractions at different heights. This simulation is based on balancing out expenses and profit requiring lots of multitasking.

This game also features 5 folder tabs where saved tracks could be transferred over with ease.


3. Sim City 4 Deluxe Edition

  • Build a city and then destroy it
  • Be a town planner, or cheat the game
  • Endless fun guaranteed

Sim City 4 Deluxe Edition came out in 2003 and was met with acclaim for the high graphics and 3D rendering available. This is a single-player game where cities can be constructed and completely customized to the liking of the user.

The user must construct public facilities and transportation routes for the citizens and maintain a high quality of life. However, this must be done considering expenses and profit as well as the influence of neighbouring cities.

Deals could also be made with neighbouring countries for resources and assets. Crime rates also need to be kept low with the implementation of emergency services. There are 3 modes available, namely MySim mode, god mode and mayor mode.

Through god mode, natural disasters can be placed in different regions. This game was also highly popular due to the iconic soundtrack.


4. Zoo Tycoon

  • Build your own zoo
  • Create exhibits, make animals happy
  • Great for cheating the game

Zoo Tycoon was first unveiled to the public in 2001. This is a business simulation game where the objective is to create a profitable zoo.

There are many aspects to take into account such as choosing suitable habitat for zoo animals, attracting customers and building facilities like restrooms and food stalls to maintain customer satisfaction.

A suitable atmosphere must be curated by choosing appropriate lights and benches. Animals also need to be pleased and be kept from escaping and killing customers.

This can be done through employing zookeepers and other staff. In terms of modes available, there are tutorial, scenario and freeform. The scenario setting has objectives that need to be met such as reaching customer happiness.

This game is considered a classic due to the many ways it could be played. There were several cheats online and many players just purposely created disastrous zoos.


5. Railroad Tycoon 3

  • Build a train empire
  • Meet supply and demand requests
  • Real locomotives included

Railroad Tycoon 3 was released in 2003 and is known for the soundtrack and 360° views available. It has 25 scenarios where players must create routes, make money using the stock market and buy locomotives. Players must meet supply and demand and transport materials to create profit.

Pick-up and delivery prices are calculated in order to bring in income. When it first came out, this game enabled messages between players and had a matchmaking feature for multiplayer gaming. The simulation also featured the most locomotives, at almost 60 in total.

The locomotives are based off real life constructions from a variety of countries like Italy, Japan and the United States. However, there are also made up ones like TransEuro. This game was praised for being a great update to previous editions, especially with the extensive map.


6. Theme Hospital

  • Create and manage own hospital
  • Look after or create crazy patients
  • The original hospital tycoon

Theme Hospital came out in on PC in 1997 and received applause for the voice acting, dark humour and pop culture references scattered throughout.

This is both a single-player and multi-player game where hospitals must be maintained in order to bring in patients and treat them to receive income. Staff such as doctors need to have stats to diagnosis patients and gain skills to operate accordingly.

Machines also need to be kept up to date using a handyman or else they may explode and kill patients. Goals include making a certain amount of money, reaching high reputations and curing high amounts of patients.

Meeting goals will bring the player to a harder lever with more diseases running. The player’s hospital is up against Holly and Deep Thought, both computer-controlled. Several pop culture references can be seen in disease names and operating rooms.


7. The Sims 1

  • Create and live out a virtual life
  • People prefer older graphics to 3D
  • No need to buy tons of expansion packs

The Sims 1 is a single-player simulation game first released in 2000. The player is responsible for their sims’ life in every aspect from romantic relationships to professional goals. The living arrangements and clothing can be controlled and managed through income.

Income can be increased if sims pursue a high-paying job and vice-versa. Basic human needs such as eating need to be managed regularly. The Sims 1 does not feature a targeted winning or losing stage and can be played over.

Sims can create children who can be taken away to military school or a social worker if basic necessities are maintained. Sims can also die from drowning, starvation and other causes.

The Sims 1 is considered a classic due to the unlimited amount of actions, both practical and ridiculous that can be done in the game.