As a PC gaming enthusiast, I have decided to spread my wings and try some new things. PC gaming has been made famous not only by the huge budgets and blockbuster titles, but also by little shops/guys in basements who put out some quality (yet often limited) titles. They grab people, make them have a ton of fun, and are a great move away from the $50 titles. I have spent so many years in MMO land, and big budget FPS land, that I nearly forgot the base of which makes PC gaming so special to begin with. A mini-review follows after the break.
With an open mind (and wallet) I found this little gem. The premise is simple – take a barren star base, add shops, attractions, and means of powering it through timed and themed missions. There is an overlay of a story line as well – through the first few levels you gain the favor of a princess through your ‘leet’ star base building who is then promptly abducted and you must give chase. The rest of the story is still a mystery (haven’t played through the whole thing yet) but the game works great as a Sim.
People visiting your station have certain desires which are indicated through a mini window. Each structure you build on hard points provide parking and that service for visiting space ships. As you add certain items, newer and upgraded items become available. The hard points you have available are limited, so you will find yourself often selling old structures to upgrade to better ones. To add new structures you must have three things available: Money, power to run it, and the tech to build the structure. Add to that that each structure has maintenance costs as well, and you’ll soon find yourself juggling a few variables.
On top of the standard variables is a deeper level of customization on the structures: You can pump more power output from power sources, but at an “unsafe” level with a higher maintenance periodic fee. You can change the type and quality of items sold in shops and set the sell value – the game gives you a “desireable” meter to see how desirable the item is but you can still play on the powers of supply and demand to push profit. For example, if you are low on trade structures people will most likely still buy a not so great deal since it is the only place to get it – at least in the short term. Every space ship in your sector is clickable to see what they are doing, and has an indicator if they are happy, sad, or angry – as well as the notification that they want to say something direct to you.
Graphics run at 800×600 and although I haven’t dug too deeply (there isn’t an obvious menu choice) to see if that can be changed it does look dated on my 1600×1050 native resolution. Hey, the game was made in 2004. The cartoon style is fun and “cute” and it fits the little pocket space station world designed. Aliens speak in voice over “gibberish” to accompany their text speech and it is done well and fits. It’s quirky and fun and had some out loud chuckles while playing it.
I had planned a bigger review, but the game is a free download – for the first hour. I was a bit surprised that a 4 year old game was priced at $15.00 still, but ended up buying it anyway because I had soaked up my first free hour (full game access) and wanted to see what was next. Go download it, give it a try, and enjoy a fun little sim that does enough good things to be a great game yet keeps it simple enough you won’t need spreadsheets or a scratch pad.
Other fun little games to play: Bejewelled, Peggle (I know they are very famous already, but they are satisfying time killers.)