Casino City from DNA Games has been quietly creeping up on our AppData leaderboards over the past several months, today reaching 2.3 million monthly active users and 327,000 daily active users. It’s worth a closer look.
A simple business-sim centered around the gambling world, Casino City focuses more on style and the visual rather than any new game mechanics of significance. Giving the user a tremendous amount of creative control, as well as tossing in a few casino mini-games to play (e.g. slots), it’s a quality application whose only real complaint stems from frequent, yet minor, bugs and irritants.
Similar in respect to games such as My Casino (though we were hearing about Casino City before the RockYou counterpart), players are tasked with building a successful Vegas-style casino. This business mechanic in mind, the heart of the game is really no different than that of Restaurant City or Nightclub City.
For those that may not have played those titles, here’s a basic breakdown: Players must manage income, rating, and customer happiness. Revenue is the easiest to deal with, as players merely place a variety of casino games for their patrons to play. Since the game has been out for some time, the choices are very wide as well, ranging from basic slots to blackjack, to even baccarat. Most of these can be upgraded for in-game currency over a period of time. As customers make bets, the income (dubbed “Chips”) piles up into the various games — with different, higher level or more expensive, games holding more — and the user must return periodically to collect them.
Interestingly enough — and this is an odd aspect of most casino games on Facebook — the patrons never actually “win” in these casinos, so users never have to pay out any rewards to them. Ironically, their happiness will still go up. There’s actually not a lot to this stat though. So long as there are games available, the happiness of patrons will continue to rise. Other than this, when players return to their casino, it will need some cleaning, which will also lower happiness until remedied. Of course, the latter is fixed with just a few clicks on the scattered trash, and even if there are no games available and happiness is dropping that way, users can buy their guests drinks (though this feature feels rather arbitrary).
Truth of the matter is that happiness feels a little pointless from a functional standpoint (meaning something players have to actively manage). It is really more of a way to gauge how well one’s casino is doing at any given time. The stat that matters, besides money, is rating. Represented by a star, this works identically to Nightclub City in that as players place decorations, this will increase. The higher the rating, the more customers one receives.
Obviously, none of this is significantly original, but the focus certainly doesn’t feel like it’s on game mechanics. What really stands out about Casino City is the amount of visual control the player has. Part of this is a result of the maturity of the game, but users can decorate their virtual space in dozens of different ways. While everything fits with one overarching style, themes ranging from western to Roman exist, giving players a very respectably sized palette to work with. It’s also worth mentioning, that the items purchasable with virtual currency are very high quality looking as well, ranging from bouncers, to Elvis statues, to sleek cars.
Additionally, players are able to get hooked early because it is very quick to level up early on, thus unlocking more items, but the payout from even the basic slot machines is significant enough to get a good fiscal start. Furthermore, the sound and music, in general, have this very lively, almost quirky feel that helps tremendously in giving the space a little bit of extra life. Between these elements, new users can easily start to create quality looking casinos.
Another thing that helps in this regard is the ability to play casino-oriented mini-games at any of their friends’ virtual casinos on a daily basis. While other casino-oriented titles have done something similar, they have often been limited in terms of selection (e.g. just slots) or have felt fairly watered down. Here users can play slots, video poker, blackjack, or roulette in a very complete fashion.
Each game seems contains many of the Vegas rules involved in the analog version of the game. Giving blackjack a try, it was surprising to have the options to double down or split. That said, it would probably be beneficial to have an explanation of these rules for non-gamblers. Regardless, these mini-games make for a significant source of income if the player plays wisely, and since they can access a non-player casino right form the get go, they can potentially earn a good bit of coin for their own virtual space.
What is also nice, is that players can continue to play until they either go broke (determined by a daily allotment of chips) or “cash out.” Nevertheless, that limitation is only for one friend. Users can play at other friends’ casinos as well if they’re feeling lucky.
The major downside to Casino City is actually only a few minor graphical issues. In terms of the latter, whenever the player attempts to edit the layout of their virtual space, the last item touched always ends up on top of everything, even when it is, perspective-wise, supposed to be behind. Thankfully, the issue tends to fix itself a few seconds after placement. Curiously, however, the same issue presents itself with the patrons that walk around the casino. Be it walking through doors or to machines, they frequently clip objects, appearing partially behind them. Functionally, this doesn’t hurt anything, but it does detract greatly from the presentation value of the app as a whole.
Overall, Casino City is a pretty good game. It’s not exactly anything new, design-wise, from a core game play stand point, but it allows players a great deal of creative control over their virtual spaces. Additionally, the game does a great job of getting the player started and allows even the lowest level users to create something that is gratifying and visually appealing, as opposed to other Facebook titles that give users only enough to buy, maybe, one item. With the only significant issues being some graphical qualms, Casino City is certainly worth a try. That said, if you’re looking for a wholly original business-sim, you won’t find it here.