The casual village sim Many Years Ago drops itself in a crowded genre, competing with games like My Tribe, Virtual Villagers, Escape from Paradise, Totem Tribe, and many more. Why, then, should anyone bother with another village sim? In four words: laid-back and relaxed gameplay. In one word: dinosaurs!
Finally! It's about time a resource management/casual tycoon game came along that's more than a fresh coat of paint and a few new tricks! Hollywood Tycoon puts you in charge of a movie studio, giving you the power to buy scripts, hire actors, build sets and much more. As you earn cash you get to upgrade everything from your sets to actor trailers, prop studios, script centers, distribution buildings and more, allowing you to make bigger, better movies that rake in millions of dollars of profit. And it's fun for hours upon hours, too!
Avalon is a beautifully illustrated casual simulation game that focuses on gathering resources and exploring a magical forest. It ditches the traditional top-down point of view in favor of a sidescrolling 2D perspective which, surprisingly, diminishes that cerebral simulation feeling. As with any casual sim, it's easy to see the influence Virtual Villagers has had, but Avalon strays well off the rails with its setting, graphical style, and the ability to inspire you to explore the world around you.
You'd think that being able to do magic would make things like running a magic shop a snap. Just wave your wand and POOF everything is taken care of. Well, turns out it's not all that easy, if Mystic Emporium is any indication. In fact, it's going it take all of your time-management skills to be a successful magic shop owner and satisfy the mystical people and creatures of the realm.
Plants vs. Zombies is now available from Big Fish Games for a mere $6.99! That's a steal of a deal for a game that will likely be in the running for Casual Game of the Year 2009.
While it may be built upon the same time management foundation we're already familiar with, Everything Nice skirts the perimeter of the genre with a recipe-based setup reminiscent of Miriel the Magical Merchant. Fed up with all the violent toys flooding the market, Abby has the idea to create classic, "happy" toys such as teddy bears and jack-in-the-boxes. A local businessman rejects her idea, but then she stumbles across the Wondermachine9000, a magical device that can create anything her imagination conjures. Just the thing she needs to start her own factory!
The undead hordes are on the march, but your back yard is standing in the way, covered with fresh, fertilized topsoil. In this cheerfully absurd melding of resource management and tower defense, you must defend your delicious brains with an assortment of warrior plants. Plants vs. Zombies is the strangest, most original game from Popcap yet.
To celebrate Earth Day (April 22), National Geographic has sponsored Plan It Green, a casual building sim in the style of Build-a-lot that joins the sparsely populated ranks of "green" games. True to its name, Plan It Green focuses on boosting your energy credits by designing green buildings and communities using four types of structures. It also manages to have an environmentally friendly message that doesn't smack you over the head at every turn.
The land of Wonderburg has been laid to waste by evil minions, and it is up to a wizard and a stalwart gnome to travel the lands putting right what has gone wrong. That is the premise of the time management strategy game Wonderburg. While it doesn't venture far beyond what games like the Build-a-lot series have established, it's a charming title that stands firmly on its own two feet.
The well-received Farm Frenzy series of time management games has now expanded to include... pizza? HA! I'm joking. Wait, no I'm not. Even funnier than my little gag there is the fact that Farm Frenzy Pizza Party is actually a good game. It doesn't innovate much beyond what the first two titles layed out, but the addition of some new buildings and new products adds a decidedly more strategic twist to the experience.
Cleaning up is rarely fun to do. Unless you're cleaning someone else's mess, right? Hmm, no? How about if you're cleaning up someone else's mess in a casual game? That's the surprisingly successful recipe for fun in Nanny Mania 2 Goes to Hollywood. After helping Mayor Whitby and his family in the original Nanny Mania, Emma moves on to help Sophia Ashford, an incredibly wealthy woman who can't seem to keep her family affairs in order. It's your job to help raise the children, care for pets, and keep the house spotless as clueless teenagers leave unmade beds and babies create problems of their own.
Loco Mogul is a new casually-oriented sim game from ApeZone. Accurately described as a cross between Oasis and Railroad Tycoon, your job is to survey uncharted territory, build a railway connecting towns, then run a train from station to station, picking up and delivering shipment carts as efficiently as possible. It's an ambitious combination of genres that plays both like a strategy game and a resource management title, complete with rail-themed music and visuals.
From the creator of Youda Camper comes another overtly-titled casual game: Youda Farmer. In this resource management sim you play the role of a farmer growing and gathering crops and other food products to sell in town for profit. Using the money you earn, buy new facilities and upgrade existing ones, stimulating the town itself to open new shops and expand current ones.
The premise of the time management/hidden object game Fabulous Finds is that your eccentric old Aunt from Carmel, California (most famous to me as the town where Clint Eastwood was Mayor for a time) died and left you her house with all her crap, er, priceless treasures in it. You're stuck with the property taxes, so you'll need to have a garage sale!
Build-a-lot has a new competitor in town: Divo Games' Be Rich, a strategy-oriented casual tycoon game of real estate planning, building and investing. The game's title gives away your ultimate goal of raking in cash by constructing and upgrading houses in various cities to increase your profits and up your credibility. It takes a more real estate-centric approach to building than the Build-a-lot series does, although the similarities between the games are hard to ignore.
From newcomer World Loom comes the latest resource management game to take the action out of the diner/restaurant/shop/airport: Fix-it-Up: Kate's Adventure. More of a business simulation along the lines of Build-a-lot, you must help Kate expand her profits by buying cars at low prices, fixing them up, and selling them for a hefty profit. The combination of time management and business acumen creates a delightful final product made even better by its whimsical art style and soundtrack.
Top Chef is based on Bravo Channel's reality program of the same name, which takes a batch of fifteen confident up-and-coming chefs and eliminates them through a series of culinary challenges each week until only one remains. The game puts you in the shoes of one such aspiring chef and, with your help, she's going to chop, saute, and julienne her way to the top through fifteen episodes and a whopping forty-five challenges.
Casual games built around sets of mini-games are gaining popularity, as are pared-down strategy titles that keep the spirit of the genre intact while trimming the bloat. Then something like Floating Kingdoms comes along and somehow manages to combine both: a simplified strategy game that's one part resource management, two parts mini-games. And it does it in a light-hearted, fun kind of way that just about any age group can enjoy.
Who would have thought parking cars could be turned into a casual game? Parking Dash, following in the long footsteps of other time management games such as Diner Dash, Wedding Dash, Cooking Dash, etc., twists the genre's formula around a bit to park the game at a safe distance from Cloneville. The end result, like Airport Mania, is a breath of fresh air that breaks the mold in all the right places.
In My Tribe, you play as sort of a guardian angel for a tribe of island-dwellers, telling them what to do, dragging them from place to place, and occasionally sprinkling them with a (hopefully) beneficial potion. Harvest food, wood, and stone to build with. Your tribe continues to work even when your computer is off. It's remarkably similar to Virtual Villagers but better in a number of ways.
Normally, mixing real estate with casual gaming wouldn't seem like a smart move, but HipSoft's latest release proves you can take a complex subject matter and make it fun. Build-a-lot 3: Passport to Europe continues the highly successful Build-a-lot series with just the right balance between familiarity and innovation to lure new and veteran players alike. Hone your real estate skills as you buy, upgrade and sell houses, collect rent, and attract new residents to neighborhoods that need your expert eye.
There's nothing quite like a day on the farm: the smell of freshly tilled soil, tender plants sprouting, and honeybees buzzing in search of nectar. Some call it work, but if you've ever met Alice Greenfingers, you know it's more like play. The lovable pig-tailed girl is back, tending her Uncle Berry's farm in Alice Greenfingers 2, a sequel that does nothing but improve upon the original.
Farming used to seem like a chore, then the casual game market took hold and turned caring for crops into a resource management experience. Farm Mania is the latest of those games, following a similar path as Farm Frenzy 2 but keeping things fresh and interesting. Yes, it's yet another game with "mania" in the title, but the experience underneath is subtly different and twice as rewarding. And much cuter, I have to admit.
Miriel the Magical Merchant is a medieval-themed time management game from Myth People, the same folks that brought us the well-polished puzzle game Azkend. As per the developer's reputation, Miriel the Magical Merchant takes a familiar formula, pulls out some of the set conventions, replaces them with something much more interesting, and slaps a shiny coat of paint on the top. The final product is something familiar but remarkably fresh that looks almost as good as it plays.
The Cake Mania series is back with its third installment, Cake Mania 3! Not content to confine the game to slinging cakes in fancy modern-day locales, Sandlot installed an interesting storyline that splits the game into five unique areas, each in a different time period and different place. While the core mechanics remain unchanged, Cake Mania 3 serves up something unique in the resource management series to create a wholly enjoyable game.
System Mania is an arcade game that borrows liberally from the ever-popular resource management genre. Instead of serving food to customers, however, you spend your time fixing their strange contraptions by turning off warning lights as they appear. The fate of Fiona's growing fix-it shop is in your fast-clicking fingertips, so pull levers, spin wheels, and flip switches as quickly as possible.
From the city lofts and apartments comes the sound of home improvement: hammers pounding, saws buzzing, and paint rollers slopping. Is it a new season for Do-Up-My-Home-TV? No, even better. The crack design team of the now-classic game, Home Sweet Home, has returned. But these designers aren't content with country living rooms any more. Home Sweet Home 2 takes style to new heights by tackling big city high rise apartments, along with some sleek improvements and additional rooms.
Farm Frenzy 2, the follow-up to last year's Farm Frenzy, takes the smell out of farming with a challenging and addictive resource management/arcade title. Keep your animals fed so they produce basic goods you can refine into more complex (and profitable) products. Then, load everything on a truck and send it to town, using the resulting cash to upgrade your buildings to be faster and more efficient. But uh, watch out for panda bears that drop from the sky. They don't play very nicely with your livestock.
A new twist on chocolate-making — or is it an old twist? Rather than exploring the world in search of new ingredients, this version of Chocolatier will have you serving individual customers in gourmet shops, in a style similar to the now classic Cake Mania. Mix chocolates, fill them, shape them, add on delicious toppings or serve them up plain. Whatever you do, serve them quickly — Baumeister's patrons are a hungry, impatient bunch.
Sick of slinging cakes in time management games? Want to build a real estate empire but don't feel like crunching numbers? Build in Time may be your answer. Combining some of the best features from big titles such as Build-a-lot 2: Town of the Year and Cake Mania 2, Build in Time blends resource management gameplay with a simple real estate theme to breathe a little life into a familiar genre.
A casual game that both challenges and chides you is finally here, and it's time to cater to your toughest customer yet: Chef Gordon Ramsay. Hell's Kitchen is a resource management management sim based on the gritty reality-television cooking competition show of the same name. Take control of both serving and cooking as you seat customers and prepare meals to meet chef Ramsay's high expectations. Perform well and raise your rank from dishwasher to Senior Chef, but if you fail you suffer Ramsay's fiery, scornful wrath.
In Dairy Dash you are in charge of a family of farmers who must feed, water, and care for a number of animals (and patches of garden) in order to harvest milk, eggs and other products. Dairy Dash eschews a number of more complex game mechanics and focuses on efficient ordering of tasks, not how many convoluted upgrades you can buy. Because of its simplicity, Dairy Dash provides one of the most rewarding resource management experiences in the genre that's familiar but with a few strokes of originality.
Ice Cream Dee Lites is a resource management game that separates itself from similar titles in the genre with catchy art work and gobs of personality. At its heart the game is composed of the same food serving skeleton casual players are quite familiar with. The music, sound effects, setting and artwork display a classic 1950s motif, and the customers are so filled with charm you can't help but love the game.
Dogs, cats, fish, bunnies and birds. It seems like everybody wants one, and it's your job to provide! In Pet Shop Hop you play Cassie, a zoology major working to preserve her family's pet store against the might of the Megapet Superstore. It's a resource management game along the lines of Airport Mania and Magic Farm, but tasks are separated into distinct categories and the atmosphere is a bit more relaxed and, well, cuddlier.
Decorating your home is loads of fun. Assuming you have a huge budget, unlimited resources, and all the time in the world. Sandlot's new casual game Eye for Design drops you in the interior design chair with near total control over the inside of each house. You play Cheri, the top grad from a prestigious design school in Paris, working with clients looking to spruce up their abodes. Choose and arrange nearly every element in each room to make the customer happy and earn respect in the interior design world.
Gazillionaire's characters have certainly got faces only a mother could love, but if you just get to know this addictive lemonade-stand game you'll come to appreciate its inner beauty. You play a budding entrepreneur in the galaxy of Kukubia. The object of the game is to reach a certain amount of wealth, depending on the length of game you select.
Airport Mania from South Winds Games is a time management sim that drops all the trite settings and food-related themes we've grown tired of in the genre. Instead of serving cake or pizza or sandwiches, your job is to direct airplanes, load passengers, and make sure everything runs smoothly. All of this is accomplished with a simple interface and airplanes that are too cute for their own good. And unlike real airports, you can actually have flights arrive on time or even early!
Build-a-lot 2 is a real estate tycoon sim game where you must improve the value of different towns by meeting goals set by each area's mayor. Tasks range from building a number of houses/buildings to earning a set amount of cash or increasing rent income to a certain level. All the while you must manage three things: cash, workers, and materials. It's simple, extraordinarily fun, and could easily be one of the best casual games of 2008.
Aah, gardening. One of the most relaxing and rewarding hobbies one can undertake. There's nothing like planting flowers and watching them grow, especially when you get to sell them for loads of cash and smash gigantic bees and snails with a shovel from time to time! This is the basic premise of Magic Farm, a resource management simulation along the lines of Grimm's Hatchery and Alice Greenfingers. As a magic-wielding gardener, you must plant, water, protect and raise a variety of flowers to sell for cash. You also have three basic skills that can be increased as you play, lending a delicious RPG flavor to the game.
The fashion business has changed quite a bit since Jojo Cruz took an early retirement a few decades back. So, now that her daughter, Rosalind, has convinced Jojo to make a comeback, is it any wonder that she needs your help? Grab your eye for style and get ready for Jojo's Fashion Show.
Turbo Subs, a follow-up to Turbo Pizza, is a food serving time management game along the lines of Cake Mania 2 and Diner Dash. On vacation from the hectic pace of serving pizza (at turbo speeds), Rebecca and Robert travel to New York to relax. The entrepreneurial bug has bitten them, however, and when they see a small subway car they just can't help themselves. With Robert behind the sandwich counter and Rebecca serving food, the pair opens up a subway shop and hopes for success.
Are you the type of person who walks into a room and immediately thinks about a remodel? "Ew... who put those curtains with that carpet? And that coffee table is way too close to the couch. How do you reach the window?" Perhaps you like to dabble in feng-shui. Or, maybe you're one of those weekend warriors when it comes to home-improvement. In any case, you're ready to try out your hand at design. If so, welcome home. Home Sweet Home, that is.
Real estate sounds about as exciting as dentistry when it comes to casual games, but in HipSoft's latest tycoon-style game Build-a-lot, managing your empire turns out to be quite entertaining. You assume the role of a contractor working for towns to improve property value. Tasks include building houses on vacant lots, upgrading homes to higher-rent properties, and managing cashflow to feed all your ventures.
Farm Frenzy weds an arcade title with a resource management sim for a game that's as much thought and planning as it is fast mouse clicking. Gameplay revolves around planting grass to feed animals which in turn drop goods for you to use. These goods can either be sold for cash to improve your farm or turned into higher-value products to rake in even more gold. As you progress through the game's 45 stages you can buy more animals, get new buildings and upgrade existing structures, all while keeping a lookout for bears that drop from the sky!
Jill's back in a sequel to one of the most popular casual games of last year, Cake Mania. In Cake Mania 2 you reprise the role of the baker extraordinare with the task of helping one of two friends: Jack, who is looking for a bakery in his underwater theme park, or Risha and her bakery in the big city. Serve cranky customers piping hot cakes as quickly as you can to rake in the cash and expand your business!
Plant Tycoon puts you to the task of planting seeds, growing plants of over 500 different species, and discovering the genetic secrets behind 6 magic plants that will make you rich! Become a master horticulturalist as you pollinate adult plants to produce seeds, and even cross pollinate your plants with other species to discover new and rare varieties.
Miss Management is, in fifteen words or less, one of the most entertaining, captivating and hilarious casual games I've played in months. Developer Gamelab has really gone out of its way to craft unique characters that fuel the game from beginning to end, making it play like an interactive sitcom rather than your typical time management game (such as Diner Dash or Nanny Mania).
Hey surfin' dudes and dudettes! Have you heard about that bodacious betty who has been bagging burgers over on Mount Tikikola beach? Patty Melton, the new owner of the fast food sensation, Burger Island, makes the most totally radical lunch on this side of the Pacific, and she needs your help!
Here, among the roses of red and strange mushrooms, we find Alice. Is she visiting the Queen of Hearts? No, it isn't that Alice. Meet Alice Greenfingers. She doesn't have time for chasing rabbits and general nonsense (save the occasional gnome); she has to take some tomatoes to the market while the demand is still high!
Nanny Mania follows a formula similar to downloadable games such Cake Mania where you play a working woman going through the daily grind in order to make a living. The Mayor of Suburbia and his wife are too busy to cook and clean up after their growing family, so it's your job to straighten furniture, do the laundry, and perform all the little tasks that need to be done during the day. It's an extraordinarily well-made game that beats the competitors by leaps and bounds.
Plantasia is a charming and addictive downloadable game about gardening that requires you to dig up rocks and soil, plant a variety of multi-colored flowers and vegetables, water them, and defend your garden against malicious bugs. These gardening chores earn you mana, which can be spent on upgrading your tools, moving plants around the garden and buying new seeds.
Cake Mania is a fast-paced arcade game where you play the role of Jill, a new graduate from culinary school, who returns home to discover her grandparents' bakery is closed. Business fell when the new Mega-Mart opened and not even their special recipes could help them compete. Jill decides to open her own old fashioned bakery to earn money and re-open her grandparents' store. Through nearly 50 levels and four different locations you'll help Jill serve customers as efficiently as possible.
From Popcap comes this cute, strange and addictive, action strategy Java game called Insaniquarium. Originally developed by Flying Bear Entertainment, Insaniquarium won the Innovation in Game Design award at the 2002 Independent Games Festival (IGF).