It never needed a constant server connection (opens in new tab), and it doesn't constrain you to regions that are too small for proper urban sprawl. It does have delightfully crowded pixel art and a midi soundtrack that you will find yourself humming until the day you die. It's not SimCity (opens in new tab), it's SimCity 2000, and it's free on Origin.
The 1993 classic (ok, 1995 since EA's actually giving away the special edition) is the best game to emerge from Maxis' golden age, when you knew that just about anything with a 'Sim' at the front of its title would be both educational and let you absolutely wreck anything from an anthill to an ecosystem. In this case, you can build your very own city and… Heck, you know what happens in a SimCity game.
But if you weren't already aware, SimCity 2000 is where the series truly hit its stride. It struck a sublime balance between deep city management elements (literally, you can even add subways) and the gleeful fun of watching it all get destroyed by over-the-top disasters like alien invasions and/or microwave beam misfires. And your parents couldn't even complain, because you were learning about civil engineering in the process.
All you have to do to get in on the nostalgic bliss is log in to Origin and claim your PC copy (opens in new tab) before the 'On the House' promotion expires. Seriously, get it - it's worth it for that soundtrack (opens in new tab) alone!