Released in 1996 by Maxis, SimCopter allows players to fly a helicopter around 3D versions of SimCity 2000 cities. It was one of many games that had the option to import player-built SimCIty 2000 cities into the game as playable maps.
SimCopter includes a career mode and a freeplay mode. In career mode, players start out with a simple helicopter and are instructed to perform various missions given at random. The player earns money and points by successfully completing missions. Bigger and better helicopters and equipment upgrades are available for purchase, enabling missions to be completed more efficiently. Once the player has earned enough points, new cities are opened up for play, with more difficult missions. Players can lose points and money by crashing the helicopter or by forcibly ejecting passengers from the helicopter when it is airborne.
The helicopters were damageable, making flight control progressively harder as the damage mounted up. The player also needed to purchase fuel to keep helicopters airborne. If the player ran out of money to purchase fuel or complete repairs, the game was effectively over.
- Rescues: Players rescue Sims from rooftops, boats and trains using a harness lowered from the helicopter.
- Traffic Jams: Players are tasked to clear traffic jams by yelling helpful (or not so helpful) phrases through a megaphone, or dispatching police to the location of the jam.
- Fire Fighting: Players must fill a bambi bucket with water and dump its contents on the location of the fire, or utilise a water cannon if it has been equipped on the helicopter.
- Law Enforcement: Players must either apprehend criminals by picking up police at police stations and dropping them at the location of the crime, or chase down fleeing cars by shining the spotlight on them, slowing the car down.
- Riot Control: Riots are dispersed by judicious usage of the megaphone, by dropping tear gas or firing water on the rioters. Deploying tear gas usually results in Sims getting injured.
- MedEvac: When a Sim is injured, the player must pick up a medic from the hospital and deploy them to the location of the Sim. The player must then take the Sim to hospital before he or she dies.
- Transport: Some Sims are rich enough to employ the player to transport them from point A to point B within a set time limit.
- Speeding Cars: These missions are randomly generated. The player must shine their spotlight on the speeding car in order for it to pull over, and then dispatch a police car to the location of the speeder.
SimCopter helicopters are based on real-world helicopters.
- Schweitzer 300
- Bell 206 JetRanger
- Bell 212
- McDonnell/Douglas 500
- McDonnell/Douglas 520 NOTAR
- McDonnell/Douglas Explorer
- Augusta A109
- Dauphin 2
- AH-64 Apache
SimCopter employed a dispatch radio to issue missions to the player. It also featured a number of radio stations based on various musical genres, such as Classical, which included Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. Public service announcements were delivered periodically, often with a humorous message. Custom built soundtracks could be imported to the game if the files were in WAV format.
Some of the music tracks composed for SimCopter were used in The Sims.
The AH-64 Apache is available to fly if the city has a military base, or by entering a cheat code. It shoots missiles or tear gas, and also has a machine gun which can be used to complete criminal missions by killing the perpetrators.
If the player causes damage to a nuclear power plant, a nuclear explosion obliterates the entire city along with the player.
Occasionally a UFO beams up Sims, or shoots beams that start fires.
SimCopter became the center of a controversy before its launch when it was discovered that a member of the development team had inserted code that resulted in male Sims wearing underwear and flashing nipples randomly hugging eachother and congregating around the player's parked helicopter. When the helicopter was started up, the Sims were often chopped up in the blades, resulting in a MedEvac mission. When discovered, this code caused the game to be delayed until after the holiday period. It was claimed that the team member inserted the code as a protest against his treatment by Maxis with regard to his sexuality, and eventually led to a call for a boycott of the company by some gay communities, however this course of action was rejected by the team member.