Unlike SimEarth, SimTower, or SimCity, SimIsle -- subtitled "Missions in the Rainforest" -- allows you to take over the development of any number of islands in a long chain. Many of them have missions. Five small islands comprise a tutorial that teaches the things you need to know to play the game.
There is also one island, with a giant ghostly "X" on it, which you can shape and mold any way you wish. There is no specific scenario associated with this island.
This game introduces agents, who you send about the island in order to carry out your directives. If your agent does not have the right skills to do the job, nothing will happen.
Like all Maxis sims, a wide variety of graphs, charts, and maps allow you to plot your progress toward the goal of the scenario. Will you turn your island into a tourist trap, suck all the resources out of it, or leave it an unspoiled and pristine haven? It's all up to you.
My most favorite "Sim" game of all time aside from SimCity 2000, SimIsle is a fun and challenging tropical island simulation. You must manage the difficult balance between economic success and ecological harmony. For instance, cutting too many trees to make building materials (wood) and you risk forest fires. Add the neat RPG-style personnel management, and the game is quite addictive in the long haul, despite a steep learning curve that may prove too daunting to beginners, and some cumbersome interface designs.
Note: the download here is the rare Windows version, which features a much faster game engine and interface than the clunky DOS version.
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