The player chooses one of several dozen fictional tropical islands of various shapes and sizes to simulate. The islands have varying amounts of open plains, forests, mountains, natural resources, and native peoples. The amount of pre-developed land also varies but most of the islands are largely nondeveloped when a new simulation begins. Each scenario has objectives and win/lose conditions.
Each map can be started with the scenario objectives turned on or off, and the simulation can continue in free form after successfully completing the initial task.
The game engine has a passing similarity to that of SimCity 2000. For example, the island maps are projected isometrically and can be rotated in 90° intervals. However, the terrain graphics are more sophisticated than Sim City 2000.