Games are awesome at allowing you to vicariously experience all your dream jobs. Thanks to games I've gotten to be a detective, pilot a spaceship, a man who hits turtles with a hammer while wearing semi-formal attire, and an inept military commander. Now, a new business sim that lets me fulfill another one of my dreams; owning and operating a record shop. Even better, I don't need to go through miles of red tape, deal with actual customers or have any math or accounting skills. All I need is a mouse to become a Record Shop Tycoon.
In Record Shop Tycoon your day is divided into two parts. You'll spend the first half getting your store ready. A local paper will be delivered that sometimes has information about local trends or events. After you read that, you can buy or upgrade equipment for the store and pay for different types of advertising. The most important thing to take care of is buying inventory. There's five genres and an amount of shelf space that depends on how many CD racks you have and how much you've upgraded them. You'll have to get to know your customers so you can find the most profitable balance of the genres. Once you have everything taken care of it's time to start your day.
This is the second half and mostly you'll just sit back, watch and pay attention. Your customers will come in and it'll quickly become apparent whether they're happy or not. If you don't have the genre they want or they get fed up waiting in line you'll see an icon next to their head telling you as much. At the end of the day, you'll get a report detailing things like CDs sold, sales you missed out on and popularity gained or loss. The next day you'll do it all again and don't think about taking a day off. The only sabbath you'll be honoring is Black Sabbath.
Analysis: Despite the challenges it offers, Record Shop Tycoon is very simple. At the beginning, you're presented with a manual explaining the game, but you can easily dive right in and understand everything. This ying-yang duality of challenge and simplicity help gloss over the game's few flaws. The font is sometimes hard to read and every so often you'll get an annoying high-score pop-up from MochiGames. Also, aside from a few achievements and buying new property, there's not much in the way of goals, but Record Shop Tycoon is engaging enough to carry you for awhile.
It needs to be said that earlier version of the game had some game killing bugs. Thankfully, Xeptic stepped up and fixed a lot of the problems. If you played a version before 2.3 and gave up because of any of the bugs, you might want to go back and give it another whirl. It's good that it's received so many fixes, because it's a great game. Everyday you'll have to make choices that will effect your business. What's more important: upgrading your CD racks to hold more product or using that money to ensure your shelves are full? Should you sell your stock of urban music CDs to make room for more dance CDs which will be super popular today? On top of that, each property has customers with different tastes, so you'll have to pay attention if you want to move your product.
Record Shop Tycoon is a lot of fun, but there is no perfect game, so even good games suffer from the "Wouldn't It Be Nice" syndrome (as first documented by the Beach Boys). It'd be nice if Record Shop Tycoon had even more to offer, more upgrades, more genres of music, more items to sell and more events in-store and around town. It'd be nice if you could manage multiple stores at once or sell everything in a store when you move to a location. There's a lot more you could want in Record Shop Tycoon, not because it's lacking, but because it's so well made it's fertile ground for additional gameplay and it leaves you wanting more.
There's not enough browser sim games out there and even fewer as good as Record Shop Tycoon. So, if you're looking for a good sim, or it's always been your dream to own a music store (or you just read/watched 'High Fidelity') then you should definitely give this game a spin.