Another one of those non-casual games on the Big Fish. I can’t exactly take the time to review these ones – they take too long, and with a baby in tow, it’s hard to go through these big long games. I can, however, offer a link to a demo. On the BFG site they do not offer a demo to Hotel Giant, but here’s a link to one on FilePlanet.

Hotel Giant Demo on FilePlanet
Hotel Giant Demo on Gamershell

Remember that this is not exactly the one from BFG – theirs is most likely pre-patched.

A few reviews from across the web:

Hotel Giant is all about building hotels. You get to design hotel attractions (bars, restaurants, health spas, and so forth) as well as guest accommodations, and you have to balance quality with profitability when you do so. …
each scenario goes something like this: spend a couple hours designing the hotel, and then spend about five minutes zipping through time until you win (or not). The only things you have to deal with once the game starts are guest complaints and staff hirings and firings, but the complaints are pretty predictable once you’ve played a little, and the hirings and firings usually aren’t necessary.

…The problem is that room design isn’t really fun even when it’s done well, and the more you have to do it the more boring it gets. Since in Hotel Giant you have to design rooms a lot — even despite a friendly copy and paste feature — and since there isn’t anything else to do in the game, obviously Hotel Giant isn’t very much fun to play.

…Overall, Hotel Giant is a nicely made but very boring game.
56%, Game Over Online Magazine

The first is the incredibly thorough but entirely boring tutorial that seems to last forever. It took me longer to get into HG than any other game I’ve played – including Morrowind….HG is one complex game, at least in its execution.

You can’t have exercise equipment in the lobby or a swimming pool in a boardroom – each object has a specific room they’re restricted to (though there are some common object). … (And it doesn’t help that there’s about three clicks for every action and host of drop-down menus to move through.) To help out you don’t have to design every single room. Each layout can be saved as a template then stamped out all over the floor – much like modern hotels. Then every time you change something in one room, it’s changed in all the rooms that use that template.

…Fulfilling the menial requests of characterless guests didn’t do anything to keep me playing. And the inability to take out some of this frustration on your hapless employees just isn’t possible. Beating up on Manuel-type waiters would have been a welcome addition. I guess what I’m trying to say, HG bored me after about 5 hours.

5.0/10, The Armchair Empire

Sounds pretty bleak, but Gamespy says:

Not a bad game by any means. JoWood has produced a quality title that seems to truly simulate the challenge of hotel management. Unfortunately, a cumbersome interface, and overly complex management scheme detract from an otherwise excellent game. Nevertheless, it’s worth a look.

It’s up to you. Links to the Demo is above.

Zoo Empire is basically a copy of Microsoft’s Zoo Tycoon. Now, Zoo Tycoon wasn’t a casual game, and neither is Zoo Empire. The reasons are very, very simple: there’s way too much to keep track of, too high of a learning curve, and there is no way you can play this for a few minutes and come back later.

For me, Zoo Empire feels like a trip to memory lane. It’s so much like Zoo Tycoon it’s eerie. The only thing that seems to be different is that my polar bears don’t seem to want to have the penguins for lunch when I leave them in the same pen. I don’t think that’s an improvement. Seeing my visitors running away in terror because I delete a part of the fence containing my lions were all part of the fun in Zoo Tycoon.

Zoo Empire is not a new game – it has actually been out since 2004. There has been a number of reviews written about it. So instead of my ranting about how it is not a casual game, I’d like to list a couple of quotations here.

Zoo Empire allowing you to choose from over 40 species and subspecies of animals including both rare and endangered species, over 150 types of visitors and animals objects, over 200 buildings, items and facilities. There are a dozen different terrain types, each with unique dynamic grass effects allows you to experience the subtle landscape changes as you progress in the game. There are also food booths, gift shops, toilets, bins, signs, first aid stations, security and vending machines, etc. As owner of your zoo, you can adopt animals, landscape and build exhibits, hire and manage employees. – GameGuru

The early stages of the game are blessed with a tutorial system to get you acquainted with the interface and controls. This is, of course, frustrating and relatively slow, but is genuinely useful and the game is all the better for it. – BoomTown

The question is, are you willing to play through 2 hours of tutorials? You have to learn how to fence animals in, edit the terrain, hire a myriad of staff, conduct research, build small and large buildings, keep animals in their desired habitats, etc, etc. Despite it being a kids’ game, Zoo Empire has a pretty steep learning curve.

If you’re willing to put in the time, Zoo Empire does turn out to be an addictive Zoo simulation. It is a completely children friendly, non-violent simulation game that contains fun facts on all of the animals that you can have in your zoo. I do recommend picking this one up from the store though – you will want a printed manual on-hand, since the tutorial doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. You can get this off BFG for $6.99, but getting the boxed version shouldn’t cost you anymore – it’s a 3 year old game, and a budget title to begin with.

Paradise Pet Salon is a very pretty game with pre-rendered 3D sprites, really cute puppies and kittens, lots of backgrounds to choose from, tons of room for creative decorating … and that’s about it. After trying to play it for hours, I realized that it’s a sort of non-game. It’s endless clicking from one thing to another with very little reward, a lot of monotony, and an upgrade system that only sort of works.

The tutorial starts with your character working for a big corporation to “learn the ropes.” After the first mission, you’re on your own with your little pet shop, very little money, two work stations, and a slew of unappreciative customers. They will walk in with their pets, and each one will come with any one to four color coded tags. Your job is to lead each pet to the work stations where they are lathered, rinsed, brushed, vaccinated and so on.

In between missions, you can visit the shop screen, where you can purchase more work stations, redecorate the place, upgrade the current equipment to make it more efficient. You can even hire an assistant to take the pets that are ready back to their owners. It’s a very simple tycoon type system, and it would’ve worked were there more variety to the items and customers. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

This is my first disappointment in time management games lately, and it hits hard. It’s like opening up a box of very beautifully wrapped chocolates only to find that they’re all chalky cherry creams. It’s time for the list-form review.

  • You are allowed 9 work stations for each shop, chairs along the sides, and 3 upgrades each. They look and act the same for each location you choose to work at. You need to raise $12,000 to get the next pet store, and the average customer brings in about $40. Add in the fact that you need to also upgrade your equipment, buy new equipment and so on, you can see that you’re in for a lot of days.
  • You can upgrade the machines to work faster, but that doesn’t stop the fact that your player character is painfully slow. Your assistant is faster, actually.
  • There are no mission objectives; sometimes you get a hint of what to expect (everyone will want their pet vaccinated today) but you’re pretty much on your own with no goals to meet with a deadline.
  • There are no “fail” conditions for each day either – all your customer could stomp out for all you care.
  • Customers do not interact with one another. At all.
  • The music is the same for each location. As are the sound effects.
  • The only difference between each location is that you’ll make more money in a new location. Other than that, customes expect the same things, you use the same equipment, and basically play the same scenario over and over again.
  • Sounds boring? That’s because it is!
  • Paradise Pet Salon doesn’t save mid-day, so you’ll have to finish each day before you turn it off. The ESC key is also a little touchy – I’m used to it going to the game menu, but this one bounces you right off to the main menu and you’ll lose your progress.

If there’s ever a game that feels like all the budget went to the same place – graphics – then this is it. If you enjoy the “endless shift” modes in time management games, and could never get tired of them, you might enjoy this one. There is a survival mode, and it does get very hectic. If you’re looking for a time management game, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for some open-ended non-game, this could be the game for you.

Trevor Chan’s Capitalism 2 is hands-down the best simulation game I have ever played. Please notice that there were no categories mentioned in that last sentence: it is the best simulation game I have ever played, out of any category you can think of. It is an accurate free-market economy simulation that allows you to control a company from the agricultural, mining, manufacturing, real estate, trading, wholesale, retail, as well as the stock market sector. It is a complete overview of how capitalism works.

Somehow, through it all, Capitalism 2 makes it easy to pick up, simple to learn, and really, really hard to drop. It manages to have no pretenses about the products that you can choose to sell (by making it funny like some tycoon games try to do) or throw in extra animations and story elements to make it interesting, but comes through as an addictive game by the strength of the gameplay alone. Now, let’s tackle the details: there are many.

The most successful enterprises (President’s Choice comes to mind) tackles the entire chain of production to eliminate competition and lower the prices of the raw products. So, let’s say you want to sell cans of soda pop. You can choose to buy soda pop from 1) your competition in town who manufactures it 2) your competition overseas who are shipping it to your local seaport, or 3) buy sugar and aluminum and manufacture it yourself and the cheapest of all 5) farm your own sugar, mine your own aluminum, sell it to your own factories at cost, then manufacture it to sell exclusively to your own stores. Once you have it in store, you can either choose to market it by branding, market it by using the traditional media, or even better, acquire the local traditional media and the money all goes in your pocket.

Oh, the possibilities! That’s what makes capitalism special. You can buy a piece of land in the boonies for the cheap. You can choose to buy land that are closer to the urban center, acquire the houses already on it, and pay more. You can buy your competition out in the stock market. You can dominate real estate and expand the city by creating new residential areas. You can corner the price of gold by acquiring all the gold mines. You can build department stores and discount stores or a whole range specialty stores. You can buy condos, TV stations, Radio stations. You can manufacture and sell everything you have in the manufacturing library, and believe me – it’s huge. You can build farms and produce eggs, meat, leather, and a range of agricultural goods. You can even build a headquarters building, hire a CEO to take care of the centralized details of marketing, branding, R&D, etc etc, while you come up with more ideas on what to acquire.

What makes Capitalism 2 so easy to pick up is the 3 x 3 grid building system. Each building, be it retail, manufacturing, has 9 boxes for you to work with, and each product requires at least 1 purchasing box and 1 sales box in retail, an extra manufacturing step in factories, processing in farming and raw materials and so on. You can layout your stores however you like as long as the links between the boxes “work” so that materials travel smoothly from one point to another. If you’re stuck, there’s even an entire layout library that ranges from typical retail layouts (4 products with advertising in the middle) to complex factory layouts that produces palmtop computers.

There are many, many layers to capitalism 2. Of course, that comes with a price: a somewhat overwhelming interface full of information and a steep learning curve, both of which flat out declared it not a part of the casual games category. It does, however, comes with full built-in documentation as well as a “start up” campaign that details every aspect of the game. If you’re willing to slog through the start-up campaigns, you can easily play this game for hours a day, weeks on end, and it won’t get boring

Another setback is the graphics. Capitalism 2 is around 5 years old, and even then, the graphics can be at best described as “retro.” Some character portraits are downright ugly, the maps are sprite based, SimCity 2000 style, and the music – there’s music? But the sounds of the city, including the sounds of things being manufactured and sold as well as the humming background noise of supermarkets, are right on the money.

Capitalism 2 is well worth $20, it has built in on-line play so you can play against other players, a custom campaign so you can determine all of the win conditions as well as start-up conditions, and a full challenging campaign. This is one game I’ve played on and off over the years and always find myself looking up after an hour or four wondering where the time has gone. Easily the best simulation game I’ve ever played – highly recommended. Don’t let the bars and line graphs scare you – Capitalism 2 is the most accessible yet realistic business simulation you can find.

The best way to describe Grimm’s Hatchery would be to call it a Insaniquarium clone with tycoon elements. Your evil stepbrother (there’s always a evil-somebody in fantasy games) inherited the kingdom, and you must accumulate $300,000 in 80 days to buy it all back. To do this, you started a hatchery for magical creatures – golden geese, gryphons, dragons and the like.

The “days” work like Insaniquarium; the creatures will get hungry, they will lay eggs, and they will get attacked by wild animals. Your job is to pick up the eggs, feed them, and frantically click on said wild animals to kill them. After you finish a day, you can go into town and sell the eggs, hatch the eggs, buy/sell animals and feed and so on, and that works like the day to day business in a tycoon game. When you’ve accumulated enough money, you can buy the next farm up, which will allow you to keep more expensive animals that lay more expensive eggs.

It’s a very simple premise, and it’s a great marriage of two genres. There’s other tidbits such as a quest system that allows you to open up other areas of the game, picking up parts to invent things for your creatures, creating hybrids from eggs, etc; however the core game remains the same the entire game – run the day, do some mad clicking, sell the eggs, buy more creatures – and it does get a bit repetitive. It’s still fun, but it is very repetitive. The quest system is very, very basic; the premise lies in that if you do good, good things will happen to you.

Grimm’s Hatchery has a lot of quirks that makes it feel like an old school RPG game instead of a newer casual game. For one, the creatures only move in 4 directions. Instead of seeing a bunch of animals running amok (like in other Insaniquarium clones), these ones runs in a set of tracks. Egg-laying is also not random – if you have the same magical creature in the pen, say 10 dragonflies, they will all lay their eggs at the same time. Picking eggs up doesn’t feel as responsive as it should, and honestly, the animals die way too quickly from hunger. Unlike other similar games, there’s also no warning of this – they just kind of wink out of existence.

Also, unlike other virtual “pet” games, your creatures only have two stages: egg and full-grown. So there’s no complexity of watching your little ones hatch from egg –> new born –> youth –> mature egg laying creatures. It makes it especially easy to part with them when you hatch an egg.

In the day time mode you can save and load any time, so that makes for some cheap exploits. Usually an animal sells for 6 times its egg’s price, so if you hatch 1 in 3 eggs, you’d make twice as much as selling just the eggs. So you can always hatch 3, and if they don’t turn out, reload again. This hatching system breaks the game. A better idea would’ve been to hatch successfully all the time, yet need days for the hatchlings to mature enough for selling.

The graphics in Grimm’s Hatchery is what you’d expect in an old school RPG – hand drawn, well done backgrounds, pixelated sprites with limited animation, non player characters who don’t move at all. It’s nice, but it doesn’t take advantage of the PC and the hardware capabilities. At all. The sound department is rather lacking as well; your creatures all have the same sound when they’re fed, the same sound when they “wink out,” and the same sound when they hatch.

Grimm’s Hatchery is a very cute, lively game, but it’s short of great because of the simplistic math that arises from the simple creature system. It’s quite enjoyable, but it lacks the depth that makes a tycoon game (like Fairy Godmother Tycoon) or the fast and furious clicking of Insaniquarium. It is fun, however, for a single play through.

Grimm’s Hatchery Hints

Well, it’s more of a cheat, I’ll admit it. Since the game allows you to save/load anytime during the game, it makes sense for you to want to hatch all your eggs since the creatures are worth 6 times the eggs. But of course, the chances of hatching that egg is pretty low, so it’d be pretty tedious to go around clicking hatch/load all the time. I’ve compiled a script so that when you’re in the game, you can just keep hitting shortcut keys until you hear the chime.

You can download the script here. It’s a zipped file, and it comes with a readme. Your virus checker might go off, but don’t worry. I scripted it myself. :p It contains next to nothing aside from mouse clicks.

There is a walkthrough for this game on their official site. (off Amarath games) It’s in the forum.

Curtis says: The colors are too pastel-based for me to focus on, but I’m sure that when I get older I’d get a lot of fun out of recognizing the three little pigs when they show up and showing them that building a house out of bricks is a great idea. I like watching the townspeople running around town shopping, but I get impatient when mommy is shopping for ingredients and hiring goons.

I know what you’re thinking. Fairy Godmother Tycoon? That’s it. That’s enough tycoon games. That’s going TOO FAR. But I downloaded it and tried it anyway. Guess what? I am quite pleasantly surprised! This is one of the better turn-based tycoon games out there – it has lots of extras that makes it different from your typical Lemonade Tycoon clone.

To begin with, this game is funny. The intro is tongue in cheek (the king is so stupid that when his kingdom’s forest was hit with Dutch Elm Disease, he promptly declared war on the Dutch) and so is the rest of the dialogue, fairy tales, and situations that might come your way. Little Miss Muffet opens a Tuffet Buffet next to a Biker’s bar, and we suggested that she sells nachos instead – that eventually had a happy ending, and she gave us 100 beans for the trouble.

It’s your typical turn-based tycoon layout, but definitely not your typical tycoon game. The Fairy Godmother’s Store sell potions. As you get upgrades for your store, you can hire a mole (yes, he is a mole) to spy on your competition – figure out how quick they are to discovering the next potion and how much they’re charging for them so you can steal their sales accordingly. For marketing, you get to spend some money on junk mail or some flying monkeys and even hire goons – such as trolls – to steal (convince? Coerce? Shake them around a few times and send them on your way instead?) customers literally from your competition’s doorstep.

In most turn-based tycoon games, once you start the day you’re pretty much stuck watching how it plays out. Not so in Fairy Godmother Tycoon. During the day, you can watch carefully as customers move in and out of your store. Spot someone saying bad things about your store? You can cast Shush on them to make them shut up. Running out of potion ingredients? Send some flying elephants to pick some up. It makes for a much more dynamic game – and it allows you to salvage your day if, say, you forgot to stock up the previous day.

You can play this game one game day at a time and spend only a minute doing it. Just close it off and start wherever you happen to have left off. But it’s also very, very addictive; you can easily spend a few hours playing and not realize it. Definitely worth the download – and if you get it, you’d be able to play it for months.

Fairy Godmother Tycoon Hints

  • Usually, the first day starts off slow. Don’t spend all your money the first day. Save about half for the next day – you won’t be making much.
  • The corporate mole is your most valuable upgrade. Once you buy it, use it EVERYDAY. Set your prices around 5-10 beans less than your competition and the customers will soon be all yours. Make it the first thing you do every game day to make sure you don’t miss it.
  • Goons aren’t ALWAYS worth their money. They’ll only bring you 2-4 customers, so only hire them if your profit margin is high enough. If you make $50 per potion that day and you have “best” potion makers who can keep up with the flow of customers, hire a goon.
  • Flying carpets are pretty slow, so even though they work all the time, they can only bring you say 3 customers a day. They cost $60. Do the math.
  • It’s much easier to use the recipe book to order supplies than it is touse the Purchase tab. It’s under Supplies > Recipe Book.
  • Having something researched early can be a great way to snag customer royalty away from your competition. Not only do you make more money selling those potions, but the villagers would walk into their store and come out empty handed…and angry.
  • Spells are the last thing you should be spending money on.
  • A good potion maker is necessary on a good day, so that’s…the second day.
  • DO use a loan shark if you have a great forecast, no money, and decent customer royalty.
  • Slow days are great days to stock up on ingredients – if you have the warehouse space. Generally, the better the forecast the next day, the more your ingredients are likely to cost. Supply and demand, eh?
  • The slower the day, the cheaper the potion and the less you can spend on marketing and more on research.
  • Always take on the tales that appear and try to be a good fairy godmother – what goes around comes around.

And while you’re at it, read everything aloud to the baby/toddler/kid that happens to be watching. Game time is play time!

Fairy Godmother Tycoon Review