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Moon Tycoon

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Legacy Interactive/Sierra
Developer: Anarchy Enterprises / Unique Entertainment
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Strategy/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

While Moon Tycoon professes to be the first 'Sim game' in 3D--if anything, it was a close run with Monopoly Tycoon--the 3D graphics in the game aren't going to blow your mind. They're good, and they get the job done, but the models are simple. One could say that the environments are plain as well, which is true, but the moon and asteroids don't have much visual variety, so that's more a happenstance of realism. Of course, the simpler graphics mean that high resolutions run quite well, and lower-end systems won't chug on this one, which is good for a more budget title. They definitely get the job done, which is the important part.

Moon Tycoon also runs fairly standard in the sound department. I suggest switching to the Ambient soundtrack from the default one, as it's considerably less grating; fortunately, the ambient music works well for this sort of methodical, slow-paced simulation. The voice acting of the various characters is passable, although the accents are a wee bit thick at times, and almost all of the voicework is pure fluff. The plot-based messages appear at the top of the screen, aren't voiced, and generally disappear before you have a chance to read them. Eh. The sound effects work, but they're nothing particularly special. This game is about simulation, though, and not aural acuity.


Fortunately, Moon Tycoon satisfies in that department. It's not perfect--the humour's a little childish, and the presentation isn't as tight as I would have liked--but the more you play of the game the deeper it gets, until you realize that you really are playing a full-fledged sim game and not a piece of shovelware fluff.

The three campaigns in the game tell an overarching storyline, although chances are good that you'll miss most of the story because you'll be too busy actually playing the game. I wish that it had been better presented, but it's not all that important. As in any sim game, the object is to match certain objectives in each level, such as a number of colonists and a group of things that you must produce. You start off with a wad of cash, but that money will disappear quickly, so it's important to build self-sustaining industries that can keep your economy afloat.

The game is played out on the surface of the Moon--at least initially--and the number of structures that you can build at the beginning are limited. As the game progresses and you build more structures, new structures enter play, and the plot opens up new ones as well. Every building in the game has a serviceable lifespan, at the end of which it becomes useless, so it's important to keep an eye on just how long your buildings have been in service.

The bulk of the game is spent trying to meet goals and make money. You can survey for minerals and build a mine, storing the goods in a warehouse and then selling them to the market. You can also deal in tourism, which is considerably more fickle, but certainly a different goal if you so desire. The different angles that you can approach the sandbox mode will definitely help to make the game more intriguing.

Perhaps the best thing about Moon Tycoon's playability is that it's very easy to pick up and play. Indeed, this may turn off 'hardcore gamers'--it seems too simple to have any depth, a title that you'll be done with in a matter of an hour or two. Thankfully, that's not the case; an involving set of campaigns definitely keeps things interesting, and there's always the sandbox mode to keep you going.


Like all good games of the genre, Moon Tycoon starts out simple, teaching you the basics of the economy and the like, and builds into a more involved game that will be challenging you soon enough. The various factors that you have to deal with keep the game interesting, and you can configure the sandbox to the way you like it, making sure that you get a challenge suited to your tastes. Unfortunately, the tutorial is weaker than most, and you'll probably have a better time reading the instructions and jumping into the campaigns than fighting with the weak instruction.

Game Mechanics:

Moon Tycoon is primarily mouse-driven. You can use the keys for various shortcut commands, and it's useful to slow down the camera speed on faster computers, but for the most part using the mouse is going to be the primary method of interaction. Unfortunately, one of Moon Tycoon's failings is the somewhat unfinished feel to the game's controls. Click-selecting on a solar panel array from the side is difficult, because the game seems to assume a click on the centre of a box and the panels themselves are lower than that centre. There are a number of typos interspersed throughout the game, and some of the text is just too silly for a professional job. You can tell that the game was a labour of love, but nonetheless one should strive for an even tone. There are also some issues with zooming inconsistencies, but since you can use the buttons to quickly switch views, that's not a major failing.

Were it a full-price game, Moon Tycoon would not be quite up to par. But as a budget title, Moon Tycoon offers a lot of bang for the buck. With a number of challenging scenarios, a lot of different building toys to play with, and a surprisingly deep play model that only gets deeper as you play, Moon Tycoon will appeal to the adventurer/builder in all of us. Definitely pick it up if it sounds like your thing; these sorts of independent games should be fostered in the sometimes stifling corporate atmosphere of today. Plus, don't you want to live on the Moon anyways?

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win9x/Me, P 200, 32MB RAM, video card w/ 8MB VRAM, sound card, 700MB HD space

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

Windows Monopoly Tycoon Windows Ms. Pac-Man: Quest for the Golden Maze

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated