Are you a bit bored with "traditional" computer sim games? Looking for something off the beaten path? If so, you might consider taking a leap of faith on one or more of the following titles. While they might not necessarily be the best of their respective genres, they are notable for being highly unusual.
1. Sid Meier's SimGolf
Celebrated game designer Sid Meier, best known for the Civilization strategy series, parlayed his passion for golf with his expertise in designing great games in this offbeat take on a building sim. You'll attempt to design the perfect golf course resort to please quirky Sims who decide to spend their day taking a good walk spoiled. You can design each hole, hire employees, add various buildings and even hit the links yourself to earn money for upgrades and additions.
Building on the overwhelming success of SimCity, developer Maxis quickly expanded its computer sim game portfolio with a variety of interesting and unusual titles. SimAnt might be the strangest title in the developer's lineup, as you attempt to build a thriving ant colony while dealing with the threats of lawn mowers, pesticides, floods, spiders, ant lions and the dreaded stomping of giant feet.
3. Big City Rigs: Bus Driver
You have to wonder what the people behind this low-budget simulator were thinking. Of all the vehicles in the world, the bus is one of the least exciting choices to translate into a game. And you aren't managing a city's bus routes or transit lines either, you are actually behind the wheel -- picking up people, slowly driving them to their destinations, then repeating the same process over and over again. Not even Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock could save this disaster.
4. Pet Pals: Animal Doctor
There are medical-themed sims and there are pet-care sims, but this is what happens when you combine the two. You'll use 40 authentic medical instruments to diagnose and treat 35 animal species, from dogs and cats to turtles and birds. Developer Legacy Interactive is something of an expert at these types of games, with titles such as Zoo Vet and Vet Emergency in its "real-life games" repertoire.
5. Uplink: Hacker Elite
The world of hacking is simulated in this unusual computer game, which has you building your underground career by completing jobs that involve erasing records, stealing data, money laundering and corporate sabotage. The "action" isn't much more than monitoring a variety of computer screens as you use software to prioritize tasks while trying to avoid being caught. If your cyber snooping is discovered, it's game over and you'll have to start anew.
6. The Movies
From developer Peter Molyneux, the man behind such ambitious titles as Populous and Black & White, The Movies has you managing nearly every facet of a movie studio. Your responsibilities range from hiring actors and building sets to purchasing equipment and overseeing the production budget. Adding to the humor (and potential frustration) are actors with varying personalities that can potentially cause friction and turmoil on the set. You can also create and edit your own films using a variety of props, actors and scenes.
7. Playboy: The Mansion
It's extremely rare for a business sim to be rated "Mature" by the ESRB, but slipping into the loafers of Hugh Hefner means you're going to exposed to a certain lifestyle that might not be for everyone (re: topless women). As a young Hef, your goal is to build the Playboy empire starting with the magazine's first issue. You'll need to throw elaborate parties, hire writers, schmooze celebrities, and yes, take actually take pictures of potential Playmates.
Sports management sims generally offer few surprises -- you expect them, after all, to follow a professional sport. Yet the developers of the text-based Coliseum took a completely different approach, with you managing a group of gladiators over the course of a 40-match season. You think your favorite baseball team has got it bad with a few injured players? In Coliseum, your star attractions can get killed.
9. Fairy Godmother Tycoon
Tycoon games are a dime a dozen on the computer, but most of the titles are at least based on real-life businesses. Fairy Godmother Tycoon opts for something different: building a potion empire. Competition in the potion business is apparently fierce as well, since you can hire "thugs" to ensure that customers purchase your wares. Who knew fairy godmothers were such cutthroats?
10. Shadow President
This futuristic political sim has you making important decisions on foreign policy as a U.S. president. Economic aid, assassinations, trade, military funding and more are all possible, and each decision you make will have consequences throughout the world. Some countries don't exactly appreciate meddling, and instigating a war isn't exactly the optimal way to boost your popularity. The game spawned a sequel entitled CyberJudas, which upped the stakes by including a traitor in your midst: a cabinet member trying to covertly sabotage your presidency.