Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tycoon City New York

I have much affection for the developers known as Deep Red. They made Monopoly Tycoon, which is one of those unrecognized classics that never gained anything more than a cult following. That was in 2001.

Since then, they made a few budget games to pay the bills (like Sea World Adventure Parks Tycoon), missed with Risk II, and did a nice job with Vegas Tycoon. I still like them.

Last week I was seized with a need for a PC game, because it seemed like I hadn't spent any significant gaming time on the PC in quite a while.

This was before I downloaded Gal Civ II, but that's a different column.

I had hope for Tycoon City New York, because Deep Red knows how to make these games. And it was pretty interesting.

For the first two hours.

Don't get me wrong. If you're a fan of this genre, it's a faithful representative. And the city graphics are quite striking for a builder game. But the game mechanics are so incredibly familiar, even though they're very competently done.

Kieron Gillen reviewed this game for EuroGamer
(, in a far more interesting manner than I am here, and he attributes his similar lack of enthusiasm to the absence of any real competition from the A.I. players. True enough, but I'm not sure I would have been grabbed by the game even then.

It's just that I've played this game, or games like it, many times before. We all have. And this genre is gasping for breath. It is so incredibly tired.

Here's what I would really, like to see: a "lost world" simulator. Your spaceship lands on a strange planet, blah blah blah. No other intelligent life, seemingly. And since you're a scientist with some knowledge of genetics, you start planting things and growing crops (since, of course, you have seeds with you). You can do tree grafts and create new species of plants and do all kinds of experimentation, and the wind will spread your plants and you'll go exploring--and in time, you might even cover the surface of the world with your handiwork . So you'd be Johnny Appleseed in outer space, essentially. And it would be fantastic to see the growth and change of the planet's surface--because of you. Or maybe your son, because it could take a long time.

It's nothing but a city builder with a new skin and a genetics add-on, so the freshness is a sleight of hand, but it seems like the time is ripe for a very new take on Sim Planet or something in that vein.

Site Meter