The city-building boom may be slowing down on Facebook, but developers aren’t done yet. The latest is SuperFun Town from iwi. The game has been growing quickly lately, partly from advertising, from what we’ve seen, and it’s currently pulling in upwards of 429,000 monthly active users.
SuperFun Town is basically like any other city-builder as far as objectives go: Build a beautiful and successful town. Progressing through a sort of societal class system, players start with low level huts and trailers and gradually work their way up to modernist homes and townhouses. However, unlike others of its ilk, there are no resources (e.g. happiness) to really balance beyond residents and money. Moreover, and despite decently placed social mechanics, the sticky control and somewhat sluggish nature of the app makes the play more than a bit frustrating.
Since players are tasked with creating the most aesthetically pleasing town they can, you can bet the game looks quite good. With a highly saturated and bright style that players can zoom all the way in to, it is pleasing to see well made results. Additionally, when users create tileable objects such as roads, hedges, paths, and even rivers, the game is smart enough to blend them together. As an example, a concrete path will automatically connect with pavement, or if you place a river tile adjacent to another set of other river tiles, it will create a bend. Marry this with the respectable amount of land to work with, and the ability to custom paint some buildings, and it’s possible to create some great landscapes.
The play itself is a bit basic. Essentially, periodic bus arrivals ferry new citizens to the town, and there must be enough residences to hold them. If there are, and there is a road or path connected to the residences, those people will move in and pay regular rent. That said, there is no further requirements for the citizens (e.g. attractions to make them happy).
That isn’t to say there aren’t other types of buildings. On the contrary, there are, in fact, shops and factories. However, all these do is earn more money. Factories and shops are used to fulfill contracts that will take anywhere from five minutes to eight hours. Unlike other city-builders such as Social City or My Empire, these structures have no purpose other than income, essentially meaning that the player has no reason to build them, if they do not want to.
In fact, the only buildings that have any real sense of purpose beyond money are the “Publicworks” structures and “Attractions.” The latter earns coin passively over a set amount of time, and increases the number of visitors your town receives (though it doesn’t seem to stated clearly anywhere). As for the former, it doesn’t do a thing. It is merely “required” to reach a certain level.
As a matter of fact, leveling is where another irritation comes to mind. Every time a user levels up, they get the typical congratulations screen. However, rather than a quick pop-up that asks them to “share” or “skip,” along with everything they unlocked, iWi tries a more epic approach by showing the user what they earned, one dramatic piece at a time. The whole process takes about 10-15 seconds depending on the level, but it is the longest 10-15 seconds ever.
It seems minor, but the game feels slow overall. As the most basic example, the player can moves about the map with the expected click and drag, but it takes a good second for the app to respond. This delay applies to most actions and gets old, very quickly. To move and rotate objects, the player has to click them to sort of pick them up, but at the same time, there is a rotate button that covers a good portion of object. Should you click it, it won’t pick up, only rotate, meaning that it has to be rotated back into place, and tried again. With smaller objects like trees, this will take an annoying couple of tries. In short, many users will find their patience gone rather quickly.
On the brighter side of things, social features stem beyond just gifting or visiting other friends’ towns. Users can actually “lease” out residences to friends or even hire them to work in shops and factories. Doing so, will earn bonuses to rent or revenue, and since there are ton of buildings to build, a lot of friends equals a lot of money. Moreover, they don’t even have to actually play to be a tenant or workers.
Overall SuperFun Town looks great, and from an aesthetic design point of view, it is visually rewarding. Unfortunately, the play itself is very shallow with nothing to really manage other than money – which pretty much comes from everything. At this point it may be a better choice for players who like decorating versus players who want multi-faceted city-building.