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SimEarth: The Living Planet
SimEarth PC Game Packaging
Developer(s) Maxis
Publisher(s) Maxis
Designer(s) Will Wright (SimCity series)
Platform(s) IBM PC, Commodore Amiga, TurboGrafx-16 / TurboDuo, Apple Macintosh, X68000, Sega Mega-CD, Super NES, Virtual Console, Windows
Release date(s) 1990
Virtual Console
JP May 12, 2009
NA June 22, 2009
PAL June 26, 2009
Genre(s) Life Simulation
Mode(s) Single player
Rating(s) ELSPA: 3+ (Windows)
ESRB: E (Everyone)
Media Cartridge or CD-ROM
System requirements DOS; 386 processor or greater (for IBM PC version)
Input methods Keyboard & mouse

SimEarth: The Living Planet is a life simulation computer game designed by Will Wright and published in 1990 by Maxis, in which the player controls the development of a planet. Versions were made for the Apple Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, IBM PC, SNES (developed and published by FCI in 1992) and TurboGrafx-16, which was also subsequently re-released on the Wii Virtual Console.[1]

Although the game was much admired when it was released, SimEarth was not a big seller compared to its hit predecessor SimCity. SimEarth is also Maxis' first title to feature built-in copy protection, where players, upon the first startup of the game, must submit a correct figure from the manual for one of several questions pertaining to characteristics of planets in the Solar System.



In SimEarth, the player can vary a planet's atmosphere, temperature, landmasses, etc, then place various forms of life on the planet and watch them evolve. Since it is a software toy, the game does not have any required goals. The big (and difficult) challenge is to evolve sentient life and an advanced civilization. The development stages of the planet can be reverted and repeated, until the planet "dies" 10 billion years after its creation, the estimated time when the Sun will become a red giant and kill off all of the planet's life.

The game models the Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock (who assisted with the design and wrote an introduction to the manual), and one of the options available to the player is the simplified "Daisyworld" model.

SimEarth screenshot, IBM PC version. In this simulated planet, radiates have developed sentience and are beginning to form civilizations.

The player's control of the planet in the game is quite comprehensive; display panels allow the player to regulate everything from atmospheric gases, with percentages to three decimal places, to the rate of continental drift, to the rate of reproduction and mutation of lifeforms. In addition, the player is given options to place equipment or items that interfere with the planet's development, such as Oxygen Generators, which increase the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, and the monolith, a take on the one found in 2001: A Space Odyssey, which aids in increasing intelligence of a lifeform through extraterrestrial contact.

The list of disasters ranges from natural occurrences, such as hurricanes and wild fires, to population-dependent disasters, such as plagues and pollution. Effects on the planet may be minor or major depending on the current conditions. Increased volcanic eruptions, for example, increase the amount of dust in the atmosphere, lowering global temperature; earthquakes in a body of water may produce tsunamis; and the shortage of nuclear fuel for a nuclear power-dependent civilization may potentially trigger nuclear war.

All player-triggered actions have a cost specified in "energy units" or "omega (Ω) units"; for example, 50 energy units are required to lay down a single terrain square, while 500 units are required to lay down a terraforming device. The energy budget is determined by the level of development of the planet, and the chosen difficulty level; on the lowest difficulty level, the energy budget is unlimited.

Game play itself can be somewhat mystifying; species may thrive or die out for no apparent reason. Mass extinctions, however, are often followed by periods of renewed evolutionary diversification, allowing the player to experiment with new sets of species and ecosystems.


A feature of the game is that all taxa of multicellular animals are on an equal footing, and thus it is possible to evolve, for example, sapient molluscs. The two single-celled lifeform taxa, Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes (or Bacteria and Amoebas, in-game respectively) are treated specially. Some examples of animal taxa include Radiates and Cetaceans as well as more well known taxa such as fish and birds. As an "Easter egg," there is also machine life, which can appear if a city of the highest technology level (Nanotech Age) is destroyed by a nuclear explosion. Machine life can thrive in any biome or environmental conditions, generally out-competing any other life forms present, and can itself eventually evolve intelligence and build cities. Additionally, there are Carniferns, which are mutated, carnivorous plants, which can occur only naturally. Having an abundance of insects allows for these life-forms to develop. Carniferns are able to develop intelligence just as animals can. In addition to the familiar types, the long-extinct "trichordates" are included. The game states that "we [the game's developers] felt sorry for them, and are giving them a chance for survival in SimEarth".


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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

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SimEarth: The Living Planet
Box artwork for SimEarth: The Living Planet.
Developer(s) Maxis, FCI (SNES)
Publisher(s) Maxis
Release date(s)
Wii Virtual Console
Genre(s) Simulation
System(s) MS-DOS, Windows, Commodore Amiga, TurboGrafx-CD, Mac OS, Atari ST, SNES, Sega CD, Wii Virtual Console
Players 1
ESRB: Kids to Adults
ELSPA: Ages 3+
Series Sim

SimEarth: The Living Planet was published in 1990 by Maxis. A version was created for the Super Nintendo by FCI in 1992.


SimEarth is an interactive simulation in which you can mold and shape a planet down to every peak and canyon that you choose.

The beauty of the game lies within the fact that, unlike most games, there is no real objective or goal to attain. Thus, creativity can be prevalent, and possibilities are limitless.

In SimEarth, your planet has a life of 10 billion years, after which the sun supernovas, turning your entire planet to desert. Unlike the PC version, it is actually possible to continue playing beyond this point.

Placing objects and performing certain actions in the game requires energy, which is represented in omega units (Ω). Actions are carried out through a series of menus, which contain available options to use.

Throughout this guide, terms will be presented exactly as they appear in the game; for example "Alt" is used in place of "Altitude".

Table of Contents

Getting Started
  • Controls
  • Start up menu
  • Main menu
  • Edit menu
  • View menu
  • Events
  • Scenarios
  • Cheats

editSim series

Maxis · SimEarth · SimAnt · SimLife · SimFarm · SimTower · SimHealth · SimIsle · SimTown · SimGolf · SimTunes · SimPark · SimSafari · SimAnimals

Non-Maxis · SimTheme Park · SimCoaster · Sid Meier's SimGolf

Sub-series: The Sims · SimCity · Spore


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!


Developer(s) Maxis
Publisher(s) Maxis
Designer(s) Will Wright
Release date 1990
Genre Simulation
Mode(s) Single Player
Age rating(s) ESRB: E
Platform(s) PC, Mac, SNES
Media Floppy disk, Cartridge
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

SimEarth was a simulation game released in 1990 by Maxis. The game, designed by legend Will Wright and based roughly on James Lovelock's Gaia theory of planet evolution, models the planet Earth and allows the player to adjust various properties of the world and see how the simulation progresses.

Players can tinker with such settings as atmosphere, landmasses, temperature, and various forms of life. The game is incredibly complex and deep, containing some very legitimate theories about evolution. The game's user interface is very simplistic, but the level of detail and nuances within the gameplay itself more than make up for it.

In 2009 SimEarth was ported over to the Nintendo Wii console by Hudson Entertainment, Inc.

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This article uses material from the "SimEarth" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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