Tokyo based developers Kairosoft have built their own little niche in the mobile gaming market. With only nine very talented people on the team, they have consistently produced some of the most compulsively addictive games available. They have made their own brand of management sim practically a genre unto it’s own by releasing dozens of titles ranging from horse stable simulators, to ninja villages and and any number of ‘Storys’, from Mega Mall story, Grand Prix Story…the list goes on. The amazing thing is that even though each game displays the unique and unmistakable visual style of the Kairosoft product, and sticks to a tried and tested game type, every title has unique gameplay elements to distinguish it from it’s stablemates. It’s never just a case of taking a formula and reskinning it with what ever theme they come up with that week. There’s a certain amount of integrity on display that could have been dismissed to cash in on a hit and make a quick buck by releasing the same game, again and again like some devs do.
There are two things in play with this game first and foremost that bother me; 1) Yet another game that is of one of the typical mobile genres of games, this one being a city builder and 2) It has a license slapped on top of it in order to mask issue #1.
That being said, The Simpsons: Tapped out is a fun game and will be especially appealing to those who are longtime fans of The Simpson’s franchise. Players will be immersed in everything from Matt Groening’s long running animated universe from locations to characters to even some of the nuances and jokes that have made The Simpsons series so loved and famed. However, keep in mind, it is a city builder. One in which you are limited in what you can do in an allotted amount of time unless you’re willing to fork out addition real-world money.
Here is my issue with a game like Bridge Constructor: I didn’t like it, but I could see how a lot of people would.
The reviews seem to back the “other people” end of my argument up. The game’s average rating on the Play Store is a 4.6, with only 235 of the near-6300 reviewing gamers giving it one- or two-star rankings. That’s pretty good. Heck, I commend them for even giving the game a ranking… it’s something I’m struggling with as I write this. One of the Play Store reviews calls it a “standard bridge-building game,” which kind of surprised me, since I didn’t know it was a genre. But whatever. Where there’s a need, there’s a developer to create a market.
Let’s start with the facts. Bridge Constructor, like Undead Slayer, is one of those games with a very simple, very descriptive title. You build bridges. That’s pretty much it. If you’re me, you send a lot of cars and trucks careening to their deaths as well, but there’s a reason the game isn’t called Car Wreck Murder Simulator for a reason. It’s a secondary function, if anything. In order to build these bridges, you’re given access to wood, then concrete, then cables, then steel. Each performs a different function — concrete, for instance, can only be used to build pylons — and they all cost money against your budget. Other than some (very) limited instruction at the beginning, you’re pretty much left to your own bridge-constructing devices.
Simulation games are a vice of mine. Give me anything like The Sims, Sim City, RollerCoaster Tycoon, etc. and I am instantly hooked. This goes against everything I believe in as a gamer too, because these games lack a story line and usually don’t have a real end game. Doesn’t matter however, they are my Achilles heel, my guilty pleasure, the thing I like that I probably shouldn’t.
For those of you who are familiar with Karisoft, makers of DreamHouse Days, you are aware that they specialize in these kind of games, feeding into so many of my neuroses. Karisoft, for those who aren’t aware of who they are, put out the smash hit GameDev Story, where users could simulate a game development studio. While the game was very simplistic, graphically nothing special and often silly, it was still an enjoyable game that had myself and many others I knew captured for hours upon end.
Karisoft’s latest title, Dream House Days, puts you into the exciting world of rental property management. In this title, you take charge of spicing up a whole bunch of apartments, putting in amenities, furnishings and other random objects in order to entice renters to move in. From there, you can manage details such as their clothing, their comfort, careers, giving tenants advice, etc. (Because you’re an awesome, albeit totalitarian property manager, who “cares” about more than the rent…) You are given 21 years to manage and raise a building from 4 units to whatever massive rental empire you can construct, all while watching your tenant’s progress, grow and age.
Given the whole zombie thing, perhaps it’s appropriate that No Zombies Allowed features what could best be described as a shotgun spread-style approach to gameplay. Overwrought first lines aside, however, it’s probably best put another way: This is a game that, for all its potential, tries to do way too much.
There’s a lot going on here. Think, like, Tiny Tower-meets-Farmville-meets-Forsquare. I know the last one isn’t a game, but it works. Bear with me.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand this is a popular style of game on the mobile platform. If anything, it appears as though developer Booyah, Inc. (also responsible for the kind-of-similar My Town 2) wanted to create a Frankenstein monster-style supergame capable of hooking everyone from casuals to the hardcore crowd. Honestly, there are a few areas in which it comes pretty close. They just don’t make up for all the other stuff.