Tropico Mucho Mucho Edition, by MacSoft
Posted: 25-Jan-2004

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: MacSoft Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Miles Libbey Class: GAMES

Overview
MacSoft's Tropico pits you as the newly installed dictator of an obscure Caribbean island, where you must create a life of prosperity and happiness for your people. Build farms to feed them, tenements to house them, pubs to lift their spirits, and churches to save their souls. You can follow a socialist path of factories, mines, logging and fishing, or chase capitalist dollars by building resorts to lure Yanqui tourists. Success will bring the praise of your people along with a fat Swiss bank account. Failure may lead to your ouster. Macsoft's port of PopTop's Tropico: Mucho Macho Edition is more game than you could imagine for such a low price. At under twenty dollars you get the original Tropico, plus the expansion pack Paradise Island.

Requirements

  • Mac OS 9.1 or OS X v10.1.5 or higher
  • 350MHz G3/G4 processor
  • 128MB RAM
  • Monitor with support for 800x600 at thousands of colors
  • 400MB hard drive space
  • 16MB video card required for OpenGL mode


Retail Price: $19.95 at
MacSoft.com
Street Price: $17.99 at
Amazon.com
Rating: Teen (suggestive themes and violence)
Official Website:
tropico.godgames.com

Game Play

How do you know if your people are happy? Well you can see the overall happiness of the population or drill down to the individual level and see their thoughts and what areas they are satisfied with and those that are bothering them. You also have full time access to a very comprehensive almanac that graph tons of information and allows easy access to finely granulated statistics. From time to time your advisor provides a few friendly words of advice, but frankly I'd fire the guy if the game would only allow me to and hire the advisory team from the Civilization game! That said, as you gain experience (aka, have been voted out less routinely), you'll have plenty of information on how to run your little island paradise.

Running your island means setting labor rates for various jobs, planning what industries need to go where and determining what sort of housing schooling and entertainment to buildÖ all the while working to keep the budget at least balanced (mainly so you can line your pockets with that excess cash and keep feeding you secret Swiss bank account the game allows you to set up!). There are several game play speeds that allow you slow time passing so that you can attend to the details without worry.

After a brief tutorial you are pretty much on your own to keep track of buildings, taxes, salaries, rents, industries, education, labor recruitment, et al. The concept of the game is simple: keep your citizens happy or afraid enough to keep you in office. However, making it past a few elections in a modestly hard game is tough. Replay value is high as almost every important aspect of you and your people is a variable, controllable at each game's set up. If you decide to customize your character, you can either modify existing profiles or create an all new leader with positive and negative characteristics complete with background details of your rise to power. For instance, if you chose to have attended a religious school, some of your church going people will be happy, but the communists will not be! I personally would have been content to trade off some of that control to have more help with early games. An adequate strategy manual is included on one of the installation disks which should be considered to be required reading after playing around a bit. If the developers are at work on another edition, I would prefer an online help function that can be accessed from within the game, rather than an external e-manual.

Other than the learning hurdle, you should find your self smiling again and again as you enjoy the lush detail of close in views of your buildings and their settings, as well as peeking into the lives of individual citizens on your island. Of course, as you zoom out, this detail is less obvious, but I found the overall effect very pleasing, and the game interface easy to learn and use.

Tropico Mucho Macho includes the original Tropico, the Paradise Island expansion pack, 12 all-new scenarios, the Brady Games strategy guide and interesting movie clips of the development staff and their game concept and development. During the month I played Tropico, I was not able to make a decent dent in any of the harder scenarios, indicating to me that this is a game that I will continue to come back to for a long time.

Not crucial to the game play, but an area that required great attention by the developers, is the great background music and sounds. Unlike most other game's monotonous music, I never turned off the sound when playing. For instance when you zoom to a detailed view of a pub you even hear the glasses clinking through the music.

Presuming you have won all your elections, you are awarded a score at the end of the game, based on factors like the population's happiness (good wages at a good job and able to go home to a nice house or apartment). Was there enough electricity to operate the luxury hotel or is that electrical plant producing so much pollution that it is driving away the tourists? Your scores are then adjusted for that particular games level of difficulty and then posted against your previous game standings. You learn fairly quickly that although the game says you rule, it really should say your people rule.

Summary
Tropico Mucho Mucho is an improved and extended Tropico. Basically, it's a must have for every real time strategy or simulation fan - and at just under $20 it IS a must have! Tropico's wonderful twist with its theme of becoming a 1950's Presidente of a small island nation in the Caribbean is that you are not a god. You can influence, indeed bribe or even eliminate a citizen, but your people have free will and will vote you out (ending the game) if you do not keep them happy. I highly recommend this game.

Pros

  • Game play interesting and wide variety of replay options
  • Nice light sense of humor
  • Wonderful graphics and music

Cons

  • Need for a more comprehensive advisor function to ease the initial learning hurdles
  • Online help function not provided


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice