Build-a-lot is back with a newly-themed release that takes us all the way back to the time of Shakespeare. Build-a-lot: The Elizabethan Era is more of the same building/management sim we've grown to love, only this time there's a distinct 1500s England slant. Gone are fancy upgrades, modern conveniences, and indoor plumbing. In are pubs, apothecaries, outhouses, and wall sconces. That's right, sconces!
The basic idea is warmly the same as before: improve each town you visit by fixing up run-down buildings, buying up properties and placing new, upgraded houses and other structures in their stead. Each level comes with a set of objectives visible from the menu at the bottom. Travel through England and spruce up Norwich, Dover, London and more, each more challenging (and demanding) than the last.
Your only real concerns in Build-a-lot are materials, workers, cash, and time. Money is collected in the form of rent every game day, and you'll use it to order materials so you can create new buildings and upgrade existing ones. Workers limit how many tasks you can complete at once, so if you've got the cash, hiring a few extra hands helps speed things along. Everything needs to be completed before the timer at the top left corner of the screen empties, but this is rarely a problem until later on.
Once the game gets moving, you'll gain access to new things to build, such as farms, service buildings, theaters, workshops, quarries, and the like. These contribute to the town's overall happiness or help you out in the management department, bringing in more cash for you to throw around like a rich property owner.
Analysis: The Build-a-lot series has been around for some time, and it's established itself as a reliable place to go for solid simulation entertainment. We never thought flipping property would be entertaining, but Build-a-lot proved us wrong and has done so across nearly half a dozen installments.
The Elizabethan Era offers more of the same, which is always nice, and adds a dollop of flavoring to the pot with its new visual style. Buildings, upgrades, mayors and the like still perform the same function, but seeing them set in period-specific locations is, admittedly, something of a treat.
If you're anything of a history buff and know your two shillings worth about the actual Elizabethan Era, try not to wince too much at the game, especially in the dialogue department. Hipsoft obviously wasn't going for accuracy, as the characters spit out text that reads like a child pretending to be Shakespeare. Take a deep breath and realize it's all just part of the show.
Apart from its small, stiff animations and hokey dialogue, Build-a-lot: The Elizabethan Era cranks out yet another superb building/simulation game. Thou shalt surely be the envy of the entire town with these new mouldings!