Developer Happy Elements has a new casino-themed business sim out called Boss Vegas, that might appear to be along the lines of older titles like Golden Nugget Vegas Casino or My Casino. While still in the early testing stages, the game already feels very complete, and comes with a visual style far different from that of its predecessors.
The game actually takes a quasi-city-building approach to its design by tasking players to manage the aesthetic as well as the functional. That said, the current rendition feels a little bit ill-balanced in terms of player progression and the sense of accomplishment they have early on. Here’s a closer look.
The setting: players have inherited the family casino business, and it’s up to them to take over and run their father’s legacy. Don’t worry, it’s not too hard. The core of the game is actually pretty standard: Players build casino tables and games, and customers come in and play them. As the machines fill up, players collect the revenue and it’s rinse and repeat from there.
As one might expect, the higher the level of game, the more revenue it can generate, but there’s a catch to this. Though the game is a business sim, it actually has a level of management not unlike a city-builder. There are three stats that players must manage including revenue, guests, and “BLING.” Each stat has an item type that relates to it.
Obviously, revenue is tied to the slot machines and other casino games, so there’s not much to talk about here. What is curious though, is that the placement of each revenue item actually detracts from Bling. On a familiar level, this works like it does in Nightclub City, meaning that the more one has, which is generated by decorative items, the more guests one will get (and obviously more guests equals more money). What is interesting, is that Bling also operates as a requirement — sort of like Happiness in, say, City of Wonder.
In that title, Happiness is required to progress one’s population. With Boss Vegas, Bling is required to actually stay in business. That’s right. If players allow their revenue generating items to outweigh their decorative items by too much, their revenue stream will drop to nothing. There isn’t too much to worry about, though, as gambling items can be stored until the Bling requirements are met.
As for social mechanics, these are a bit basic and consist of hiring friends that play to work the various game tables around one’s space (e.g. the blackjack table). This is also where non-player character micromanagement comes into play: As friends work, their energy depletes, and will require the user to “cheer” them up at the cost of in-game currency. Furthermore, players can also hire NPCs to work tables should no friends be available, but these characters are much more expensive and last for less time. As a side note, friends’ casinos can also be visited for daily rewards and are required to expand the size of one’s virtual space (lest they spend virtual currency).
Patrons can be, sort of, micromanaged as well. As they play, their individual happiness will fluctuate based on factors such as time or if a game they like is available or not. Should they become too upset, they will outright leave the casino. That said, players can compensate them with free chips at the cost of recharging energy (energy is also consumed when collecting chips from a machine or table), sending them back up to 100% happiness. Doing so will also reward the user with extra revenue and experience. Also, some customers are marked with a “VIP” tag, meaning that they must especially be watched lest the player lose their biggest spenders.
Truth be told, however, this mechanic feels a bit arbitrary, as the happiness doesn’t drop all that quickly. It’s more of an early source of income, as many pay out rather significant chunks of change. It’s actually one of the balance issues with the game right now.
As a disclaimer, yes, the game is in testing phases, so this is likely to be changed, but while the game looks good, it feels like players are at a bit of a loss early on. Since the casino is inherited, there’s already a lot placed within the space, meaning that the user doesn’t start from scratch. It’s hard to say if this is good or bad, because while the user is able to get started more easily this way, there’s a lower feeling of accomplishment. Additionally, other than trying to complete a series of simple quests, there’s not much to do other than compensate guests with chips.
It’s also worth noting that the Bling requirement is extremely easy to met, making the mechanic feel a bit pointless, which is a shame since it is a differentiating factor for Boss Vegas. With everything pretty much given to the player right from the get-go, the hook of building out a successful business and holding a sense of progress and accomplishment just doesn’t feel there. Again, though, it is still being tweaked and tested, so such issues are subject to change.
Regarding any other points of merit, the game also allows players to build extra rooms for their casino. Since this is Las Vegas, there is more than just gambling. Players can actually construct theaters, show rooms, and even restaurants to compliment their revenue stream. Of course, while they do generate quite a bit of coin, they also detract an equivalent amount of Bling.
Overall, Boss Vegas is a decent title with some interesting concepts, but this early in its lifespan, it feels a little imbalanced towards the easy side. Too much is just given to the player right away, and it takes away any sense of reward and accomplishment. Nevertheless, the game does show a bit of promise, and certainly looks much more appealing, on a visual level, than its predecessors. Of course, whether or not it does as well as titles such as Casino City is something that only time will tell.