Virtual spaces are nice to have in a social setting, but to really make them pop, games require something a little more in depth than just mere aesthetics. This is one of the core reasons games like Restaurant City and Café World became so addictive. You build elements not only to appreciate how they looked but to enjoy building a virtual business. However, not everyone wants to go into the restaurant industry. Some people, just want to party — well, time to get your wish, with a new Facebook title called Nightclub City.
The game lets players make their very own nightclub. Players start out with a small box of a room (don’t worry it gets bigger as you level up) with only themselves as the DJ. Not much to start with, but after selecting a set of music — hip hop, electronic, or pop — your customized avatar will start spinning with the best of them for the next 15 minutes (longer once you upgrade your DJ booth… hours longer). Once the party starts, random non-player characters, Nightclub City player avatars, and Facebook friends will enter and the business is off and running.
There are a multitude of ways to earn cash in this game. For every character that enters, a cover charge is paid, but this is only the beginning. Once in the club, patrons can buy drinks, hang out, and tip. Now, a number of these costs are flat, such as drinks, but the tips are where the real money lies.
You see, each character within the club can be selected, and you can view how much money they’ve spent, how happy they are, what their tip rate is percentage-wise, and what they are thinking (what they like or dislike). All of this is affected and increased, passively, by the popularity and luxury level of your club.
Each piece of décor that you purchase has a point. Sometimes it is just mere aesthetics such as wallpaper or flooring, but you need a bar to serve drinks (better ones hold more as well as increase drink price), disco booths to play music, dance floors for… dancing, seating, enough empty space to chill, and booths for VIP guests.
In addition to furniture and decorative items, players must also hire a few employees. These refer to your Facebook friends, and they don’t even have to play! Initially, you need a DJ (you), a bartender, and a bouncer. Each job has a pair of special abilities. The DJ, can “Drop the Bass” and send everyone dancing to the bar to buy a drink or cheer up unhappy guests. The bartender can serve at double speed or do tricks to increase tips. These are all passive too, and continue to work until you say otherwise. The bouncer, however, is a little different.
As with any good club, there are a multitude of personalities. The case is no different here. Occasionally, you’ll get a guest dubbed the “party animal” who becomes a “party foul” (a sick guest), the dancer, or the high roller. But most of the time, your guests will randomly get upset, get into fights and so on. The bouncer lets you manually target unruly guests for removal; the character has an area of effect aura of sorts that will automatically remove troublemakers in his or her space. As the second ability, players can move them to where ever they find problem areas to be. Of course, that also means that many bouncers are needed for big clubs (the area of effect is not that big), and is also something very important when you hire celebrities such as Shuck Norris to make an appearance. These celebrities can drastically improve your club’s popularity.
Speaking of the different acts that NPCs do, the level of style and flair in Nightclub City is fantastic. There are a tremendous number of elements to the game that are completely unnecessary to game play itself, but make the experience infinitely better. Yes, patrons dance, but they also look to chat, “make out,” relax, get drunk, and about all the other legal things you can think of happening in a typical nightclub. When this is paired up with flashing dance floors, spot lights, disco effects, the active element of restocking your bar, and even the emphasized dollar signs that pop up above an NPC head when they spend, the game makes for a truly satisfying experience.
In fact, perhaps the greatest contributor to this experience is the music. All of it is remixed to a nice dance beat, and many of the tracks are of real music most people will recognize. Furthermore, and despite the occasional hiccup when songs switch, the music is among the best we’ve heard. Perhaps, it is a bias toward the type of music, but it is fantastic to just listen to, and we dare you not to get into an unconscious groove while playing.
Honestly, the only game play issues are selection, in some cases, and some basic social features. Your avatar’s clothing is limited to a small menu of options, but since it is all dubbed “free,” there is likely a lot more on the way. Furthermore, you can’t change the look of your employees at all. At least in Restaurant City, you could give them uniforms. Beyond this, more music would be fantastic. Frankly, it’s just too good and too important to game not to have more than three sets. Any other shortcomings, such as not being able to build bathrooms, will probably be fixed in time.
Socially, the game is decent, but it would be nice to be more involved in your friends’ clubs. Right now, the only thing you can do other than view or unwittingly work for it, is send celebrities you hire their way. Sadly, you can’t send anything other than that.
In the grand scheme of things, these are all minor issues. The developer has probably been more focused on more important issues, like keeping the site running. It had some downtime while we were reviewing it, that the developer has recently fixed.
Frankly, this is a great game overall and while these virtual businesses have been done before, creative interpretations have been few and far between. We highly recommend Nightclub City.
People seem to agree. Thus far, Nightclub City has been on a rapid incline as far as monthly active users go, even though it’s small. It has quickly grown from almost nothing to around 70,000 MAU since we began tracking it last week. We’re guessing that the developer is trying to stay quiet while the game finds users, because the name is not listed anywhere (if you know, please tell us in comments). We wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out the game is being promoted by one of the big social game publishers.