Game Tycoon Review

The Tycoon series of games has definitely produced some fun times, with games like "Roller Coaster Tycoon", and "Amusement Park Tycoon," you could take on the role of a business entrepreneur to try your hand in a semi-realistic venture. It’s a good concept, and can actually be quite fun and comical. That must be why Game Tycoon, in comparison, seems so incredibly bad.

To be fair, this game would look bad compared to just about anything. I’ve played worse, but just barely. You fire the game up and after a quick and relatively painless install you’re on your way. A quick intro showing the evolution of game design comes up, overall the intro is well made, but quite vague and done sans speech. Then the main screen comes up. My first thought is that there is no options screen, no resolution, no graphics or hardware options to speak of. "Well, they wanted to keep it simple" I tell myself. The graphics, at first glance seem actually rather clean and interesting. The main characters are cell shaded and animated in a fairly spunky and unique way. This is, of course, the extent of the entire graphical budget that went into this game.

To interrupt my own tirade, you would think a game that was ABOUT the gaming industry, would be better. This game is supposed to show you what it takes to make a good game in the industry, starting in 1982 and working your way up from there. But it seems to make every mistake in the book. The voice acting is fair but very sparse. The interface is clean, but bland. There is nothing here to keep my interest. And, to top it all off, the game is fairly difficult to figure out.

I fired up the tutorial to learn how to play it, and even in this, the game failed miserably. The game is not hard to ‘play,’ per se. The interface is very simple, and you are haunted throughout the tutorial by a ‘helper’ avatar who just repeats his same tip OVER and OVER and OVER again until you figure out exactly what it is he’s saying. The phrase "Go to the media center and select a publisher" doesn’t sound so complicated, but with no context whatsoever you’re left to guess what the heck that means, and you spend 15 minutes trying to decide what a media center is, where it is, and what qualifies as a publisher and how you select one. You’ll hear that same tip roughly 238 times. And once you have completed this mini mission, the NEXT tip starts repeating…

This game, while amazingly difficult to figure out, is surprisingly small. There are only 4 real areas to visit; each one consists of a side scrolling 2D environment with 2-3 buildings in each one. Each building is a single 2D screen with an avatar that may or may not be animated (most don’t have a person at all, just a blank environment leaving you to guess its function). The biggest problem I could say with figuring out how this works is simply context. The very short manual gives you a basic idea of the game and tutorial uses its own in-game language to describe your next task. But there are no tool-tips to describe what most things are, or what they do. At one point I had 5 objects in my inventory and after several hours of experimentation (because I had no idea) I figured out what they were.

  1. A copy of a game engine I had created which was now useless.
  2. A copy of a game with the same icon as the game engine.
  3. A copy of what appears to be a magazine which does absolutely nothing.
  4. A copy of a game licensing contract that looks like a red line.
  5. A copy of game engine license that looks like the license but black.

Of these objects, about two of them served any purpose whatsoever and the others just sat there taking up space. My character was a girl, whom I found out from the manual (and only from the manual) was named Lydia. The other two faceless Joe,s who you can choose to be seemed to have no name at all. Well, Lydia was my avatar of choice, as she had the most pleasing voice acting. Lydia was forced to initially take a loan out of 100,000, which proved to be no problem whatsoever (good credit?). After the first of my many mistakes occurred in attempting to figure out how to create a game, after the awful tutorial did nothing for me, I was in the red for $120,000! Panicked, I stopped by the bank, where they happily loaned me $175,000 dollars without batting an eye, after I had done nothing to pay back the first loan whatsoever.

I could walk you through the process of creating a game, but I assure you it’s about as interesting as changing cell colors in Microsoft Excel. Except that in Excel, you could eventually figure out how to do it. My main complaint about this game isn’t so much the lack of decent graphics, lack of options, lack of voice acting, lack of interesting things to do; it’s probably most of all a lack of documentation. This game has ‘cute’ potential, every game doesn’t have to have earth shattering 5.1 audio and pixel shading to be any good, and this one has its own particular style that feels cute and comfortable. But it has less depth than Leisure Suit Larry #1 and far less interesting game play, And I bring that up because it’s actually what I was most reminded of in terms of game play. But that game, of course, was much more fun.

This game is 2 inches deep and I found myself frustrated, bored, and maybe even a little angry at the problems with this game. Most notably at an error message in German, with 3 options to select, also all in German. Top this sundae of hate off with bland and boring music, and you’ve got a solid reason to pass on this one at the game stores. Even in the bargain bin.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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