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PC Review - 'Trailer Park Tycoon'

by Tristan on March 8, 2003 @ 1:35 a.m. PST

Trailer Park Tycoon gets the real neighbourhood party started with a colourful cast of characters, distinct settings and outlandish events. This parody of a classic slice of Americana uses humour to engage the gamer and expand on gameplay elements. Trailer Park Tycoon incorporates enhanced 3D graphics and expanded direct control features to distinguish it from other tycoon titles.

Genre: Building Simulation
Publisher: Jaleco
Developer: Jaleco
Release Date: March 3, 2003

The Gaming world has seen many great nation building games come and go over the years. From the SimCity series, to the Civilization series, the industry has been blessed with simulated master pieces. Within the last few years though, a new series has been gaining ground on the popular games by Maxis and Firaxis; the Tycoon series has become very popular and may very well become the reigning champion of the building simulation genre.

Although most notably known for the Rollercoaster Tycoon games, the series has many other games developed and published by various companies. From “Hotel Tycoon” to “Airport Tycoon”, the series spans just about every aspect of the modern day architecture of a successful city. The latest installment in the series is based upon an area of society that is usually overlooked in modern building simulations. Trailer Park Tycoon, developed and produced by Jaleco Entertainment is the latest game in the series.

Right away, with a title like Trailer Park Tycoon, people aren’t going to be rushing out to buy this game. Although this game is geared towards just about anybody, the only audiences it will attract are the hardcore “tycooners” and family members looking for a cheap present for a son/daughter/niece/nephew. With a woman in a bikini sitting on the lap of an overweight man that appears to be a trailer park pimp on the cover, the only families that will be buying this game are ones severely lacking in morals. Right off the bat, Jaleco have set themselves up for failure.

Through trial and error, the game is very easy to pick-up. It is a game that although it has a Teen rating, could easily be picked up by any 5 or 6 year old. With the simple user interface, Jaleco appeared to be making ground on their poor artwork on the game box. However they didn’t waste much time in falling behind with their lack in environments in which the player can build his/her trailer park. A total of 4 environments are available in-game; swamps, urban areas, the country-side, and the desert are the only ones available. In those 4 environments, there are a vast number of trailers, ornaments and amenities available. The amenities are a key part of the game, because they are a source of comfort for the inhabitants of your park. Amenities consist if Laundromats, movie stores, restaurants, simply things that would make residents more comfortable in the park. In the many trailers included with the game, one can easily build a very diverse trailer park; from the biker trailer to the hippie trailer, the selection was well designed. To add to the parks diversity, the player is given the opportunity to place lawn ornaments on each trailers lot. The ornaments are quite entertaining, from different types of outhouses, to holes in the ground, to tree houses. It is through these very diverse ornaments and trailers that we get into the next key part of the game.

The entire game is based around a parks Flashy/Trashy values as well as its Cool/Old school Values. By adding various ornaments and/or trailers to your park, the values fluctuate. On many of the “New Game” scenarios included, your objective will be to achieve a certain value for one of these terms. The problem is that, lets say you want a 200 cool value. If you add a trailer that has a 10 cool value, but you also add an ornament that has a 2 old school value, then the cool value on that lot will be 8. So in designing the parks to achieve these objects, the player must be careful what he/she builds.

Trailer Park Tycoon suffers from one huge downfall, and that is its petit proportions. With all of the other Tycoon games, the player is given the opportunity to build up cities and parks to great magnitudes. However, in Trailer Park Tycoon it is amazing if a player can get his/her population over 30. So in all reality, the missions in this game take no more than 20 minutes to complete. To complete the entire game, it takes a proficient player, 2 hours at the most. This is not what gamers are looking for when they spend their money; unless you get the game for free, you aren’t getting your moneys worth.

For all of its downfalls, Trailer Park Tycoon saves itself from a failing score in its graphics alone. Visually, for a Tycoon game, this is the most stunning installment in the series. For the first time, the player can zoom in almost to the faces of his/her people. It provides a new style for the building sim genre of gaming. All of the objects are elaborately modeled and skinned to resemble an actual trailer park. The same crowd pleasing engine that brought us the visuals from ‘Black & White’ appears to be responsible for those of Trailer Park Tycoon. It is because of the lush visuals that the game is worth playing for a little bit.

Overall this game was a pleasant surprise to a reviewer, considering the name it bears; one would expect the game to be a complete waste of time. The visuals in this game could very well start the next phase in the Tycoon series giving players the opportunity to get down and “in the faces” of their citizens and such. Also, for the younger gamers, the interface is quite easy to get the hang of. On that same note, Jaleco has some work to do if they plan on developing more games like this. The lack of environments, mission objectives, and missions all together were enough to deter most gamers from buying and/or playing this game altogether.

Score: 6.5 / 10

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