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Video Game Tycoon: Gold Edition

Score: 78%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: GameSweet
Developer: GameSweet
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Edutainment/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

The video game industry is not a pretty industry. Video Game Tycoon is no different. The graphics are adjustable, based on your computer's performance, but the machine I use for testing reasonably complex games couldn't begin to handle Video Game Tycoon on its highest setting. I don't know if this is a need for optimization that wasn't addressed or what, but I can see how having everything be adjustable and designable by the player could possibly remove some opportunities for optimization.

The animations for the models are predefined, but there are some animations that don't work so well. Case in point would be the walking animation. I found that when I was using a person as a player character, if I had my character walk, he would make a walking motion in the direction he was facing and would move whatever direction I indicated he should, without changing his facing. If I was running instead of walking, this wasn't the case.

As for the sound, the models have certain sounds that are built-in and incorporated into their actions, removing the fine details of messing with sound effects from the player's control. There are about ten different musical pieces that you can choose from for each level, however, with options such as Rock, Grunge, Rave and a "Happy Horns" piece that is a jazzy - yet - frenetic piece that has an almost Austin Powers feel to it. Not a whole lot of music to choose from, but enough that you can generally find something that somewhat fits your levels.

The downside of the sounds, however, is that the baked-in sound effects will mess up from time to time. I have had cars that continue to sound like the guns are shooting when they're no longer shooting or sounds like they're braking hard when the brakes aren't being pushed at all. These aren't a constant, but this can be annoying, especially with the more percussive sounds or squealing sounds such as the brakes or gunshots.


Gameplay:

Ever played a game and thought, "I could do better." or "I would have done it a different way."? If so, this is one of those games. Video Game Tycoon comes with several games that serve as examples of games that you can make. It seems, however, that everyone of these games feels poorly balanced, uninspired or simply not finished. Normally, this would be a bad thing. However, the whole point of Video Game Tycoon is that you can take control over the design of video games and change everything from the colors of the environment to the player and enemy models and even the music. Video Game Tycoon provides a reasonable enough selection of models to play with; there's not enough here to flush out a large, detailed and diverse game, but there are several interesting choices that can inspire some comical game elements.

If you're serious about game development and you're ready to start your career, you don't need to bother looking at this game. If you're not sure if you are interested in game development, or if you're interested in playing around a bit as a hobby, then Video Game Tycoon provides a decent first glimpse of what goes into developing a game.

There are four tutorials to watch. These are not interactive demos, but they do illustrate what needs to be done in the UI to do what is being taught. This is shown by the UI being automatically controlled, i.e., "scripted" to walk through the steps of building an example game. Due to the fact that this is scripted use of the UI, when you complete a tutorial, the game that was built in the tutorial is saved and is available for further editing in the editor.


Difficulty:

For the most part, the tutorials do a decent job of explaining how to use most of the elements in the basic editor. There were a couple of things that were requirements for achieving silver and gold trophies that hadn't been explained in the tutorials. However, with some searching and prodding, I was able to eventually figure out how to do everything without too much frustration.

Once you complete the Gold Trophy and unlock the advanced editor, there will be more controls made available to you and these won't have any accompanying tutorials to guide you. The good news is that there is a help tool that you can click on and then click on something in question and you will get a text pop-up that describes the attribute and a voice-over will narrate the description. The bad news is that sometimes the narration doesn't match the text. In some cases, the narrated description uses slightly different wording, in some other cases it uses different terms for the attribute (such as aggression instead of level) and in still other cases, the wrong narration is used, so that the vocal description is actually describing something else. It seems that the textual description is always the better option if they differ, so my advice would be to read the tips yourself and ignore the narration in the tool tips.


Game Mechanics:

This is not, in and of itself, a game. There are goals, and you can be rewarded with a "certificate" for game development, as well as bronze, silver and gold trophies. If you achieve the gold trophy, you will be given access to more detailed controls over the aspects of the games via the Advanced editor. This is nice, but even this should not be considered a full-featured editor that will allow the creation of any type of game you desire.

That having been said, I am scoring Video Game Tycoon based on what it is, not what it is not. As an introductory glimpse at game design, it is educational and fun. I can't see anyone selling games made with Video Game Tycoon, but I can see siblings or friends each making games and sharing them back and forth.

The main drawbacks of Video Game Tycoon are the bugs. The misfiring sounds are an occasional aggravation, but the help tips not matching the items being described is hard to forgive. In addition, it seemed that every time I achieved a certificate or trophy or tried to introduce a new controller (a corded 360 controller), I would have to exit Video Game Tycoon and launch it again. The reason I tried the 360 controller is because the mouse and keyboard control left a LOT to be desired when trying to control vehicle movement. The 360 controller was better than the mouse interface, but still did not give the control I was hoping for. Some of this, however, can be tweaked by manipulating the handling characteristics of the vehicles - once you unlock the Advanced editor, that is.

One installation note: When I first installed Video Game Tycoon, I raised the settings on the video to be higher than the default. This made Video Game Tycoon unable to run and I had to eventually restore my PC to a previous restore point to get to a point that I could reinstall it and use the default settings. Evidently, the uninstaller doesn't remove the graphics settings and when you launch the game, if the setting is set, you're not prompted to change it. Most games provide a configuration tool separate from the game itself that can be used to change these settings as needed. Video Game Tycoon, however, does not. Be warned.

As long as you understand that Video Game Tycoon is a fun and educational introduction to game design, I would definitely recommend it. If you're looking for more professional final product, however, you're better off looking into learning some programming and picking up some real game development tools.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP, 2000, ME, 98, P4 1.3 GHz or faster, 256 MB Ram, 4X of faster CD drive (CD/RW or DVD/RW required for burning games), 750 MB free space (1 GB when burning games), OpenGL, 32 MB memory ATI Radeon or better, GeForce 2 or better, DirectX 7 compatible sound card
 

Test System:



Sony VAIO VGC-R820G: Intel Pentium 4E, 3.2 GHz (Intel Grantsdale i915), 1 GB RAM, AMI BIOS, Radeon X300 Series (128 MB), Realtek HD Audio, Floppy disk drive, 200 GB 7200 RPM, Serial-ATA/150 Maxtor HD (24760 MB free), DVD-ROM, Pioneer DVD-RW DVR-108, Sony SDM-HS73 Monitor, Cable Modem

Sony PlayStation 2 Cartoon Network Racing Nintendo Wii Tony Hawk\'s Downhill Jam

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated