Last week, Toronto based developer, Social Game Universe released a pair of Facebook games the social network: Avastar, which we reviewed earlier today, and Hollywood Tycoon. Here’s a look at the latter.
Having originally been a downloadable single player game, Hollywood Tycoon has boasted claims that it is “one of the best casual tycoon games available.” Tall order, but hold on to your hats, because with it now on Facebook, it more than deserves the praise it gets.
While single player was good, the social features make the game better as you dive into a world of glitz, glamour, heartbreak, and about half a dozen other Hollywood’esque nouns. The objective is to take a studio that was left to your by your deceased uncle and become the next big thing in Tinsel Town film making.
Unlike some other games we’ve looked at recently, this one actually teaches the user how to play. Using a non-intrusive tutorial (some janitor-looking guy that seems to know a lot about directing), the user is walked through each step of the movie-making process. You build a writer’s office to get scripts, trailers for actors, workshops to open up backlots, and sets to actually shoot movies in.
It’s your typical resource-management type of game, with users using wood for buildings, film for shooting, and money for everything else. However, the game revolves mostly around the money itself (each year, you can purchase more wood and film). Here’s how it works: If you make a writer office, you get scripts. If you make a trailer, you get actors. The better each building, the better quality of scripts and actors become available. All you have to do, at this point, is buy a script you like for one of your movie sets, match it up with a hired actor, and voilà, it’s time for some movie magic. After production, the film releases and you earn some cash.
What makes this more interesting though is that each actor, set, and script have set attributes that range from one to five stars. These stars can be under four categories: Drama, romance, comedy, or action. If you manage to match up all three elements with the same or greater number of stars, you earn a hefty amount bonus cash.
It sounds simple, and it is, but this simplicity allows a new user to catch on immediately, and still allows enough depth to keep them playing. However, that allure is further deepened by Hollywood Tycoon’s Facebook integration.
Not only do your achievements get published to feeds (if you so choose), but it looks like the game’s parent title, Avastar, plays a role in this game as well. In Avastar, players compete against one another in order to become A List celebrities, doing odd jobs, sabotaging reputations, and decorating houses. What does this mean? Well, while we’ll keep the details inthat review, you can actually utilize your Avastar playing Facebook friends in your movies (they are actors after all), with the money you pay for their acting skill going to them in that game.
Quite frankly, there is only one serious complaint with Hollywood Tycoon. The game has a virtual currency, aptly dubbed “Star Gold.” While most of the production buildings can be bought with normal in-game money, all but two sets cost Star Gold. Considering that this is the only way to earn cash in this game, that feels like a bit of a slap in the face. Remember how you want to match up scripts, sets, and actors? Most of the scripts to choose from are for those Star Gold sets, and while you can still use them, it kills your potential income.
Items that require the user to use real money need to be bonuses for the player; something that gives them an advantage. While these extra sets do this, it feels more like a hindrance. A penalty. A user can’t utilized roughly 80% of the main money-making features.
What should you do, you ask? Well, an example is right in this game. There are buildings you can build that improve your sales in North America, Europe, or globally. You don’t really need these, but they give you a significant added bonus. Granted, you don’t technically need the other seven sets, but since these the core of the game, and the average, free, user gets almost nothing, most of them are going to feel cheated. In the case of the sales buildings, however, this is a smaller part of the studio that only improves the core play. It isn’t part of it.
While the limited production options was obnoxious, it isn’t a deal breaker for Hollywood Tycoon. It is still a ton of fun with just two types of sets. For some, those may get old quick, but overall it will still provide a decent amount of play time. Furthermore, with the aforementioned conncetion to Avastar, it looks there is a lot more depth to an all ready great game.