Some of the happiest memories of my childhood involve touring through Gippsland in a small yacht. We're not rich; years of reading Cruising Helmsman magazine ate into Dad's brain and he decided to stop being a 'gunna' (as in "one day I'm gunna buy a yacht"). So we hired a little boat and took it around some scenic destinations, played with the 'roos and the koalas, and stopped at some romantic little pubs for barramundi and chips. I haven't been on a yacht since, so Youda Marina was a pleasant blast of nostalgia for me, although its facilities are more reminiscent of the Gold Coast.
As you might expect, the objective in Youda Marina is to run a successful marina. You do this by building facilities, attracting visitors, earning money to gain fame. Get started by building a radio station to attract boats, and a ramp with some docks so they can stay at your marina. This is the most basic marina, but of course you'll want to do more. And you will have to, because you must play through the tutorial and gain at least a few levels of the first and easiest map before the relaxed mode is unlocked. A helpful old sea-dog will give you instructions, enabling you to understand how things work and build up an income.
Initially, boats will only want the kind of dock most suited to their size — a very small, not too profitable dock. But as you develop your marina with bigger docks, clicking on a boat will bring up a number of docking options with different likelihood of being accepted. You can go for the guaranteed income, or offer the sailor a bigger and more expensive dock and hope that they're willing to pay. It's possible to boost your income by adjusting the price of the docks, but be careful — if you set the price too high, boats won't dock with you.
The major challenge of Youda Marina is to balance the competing needs for money, reputation, fun activities and geographic space. There's two kinds of currency in this game: money and reputation. Gaining reputation is what will ultimately win the game for you by allowing you to gain levels and to build facilities. Adequate lighting, emergency services and shore facilities all help to build a daily increase in your reputation, thus paving your way to success. Having adequate police, fire and medical facilities also builds your reputation by marking you as a trustworthy operator that the big cruise companies can feel comfortable trusting with their passengers. Fun things like bars, restaurants and amusement parks will attract visitors, make them happy and let you run events to raise funds... but it's only worth running events if you have people staying at your marina!
As you become more successful you'll need to juggle demand for different dock sizes — thankfully you can destroy ramps and docks when you discover that no-one wants little size 12 and 14 docks any more since it's all about the international cruises now. I hope you remember high school geometry, because you're going to need it to work out where you'll be able to place the giant cruiser that just loomed into the bay with 200 passengers.
You win the game when you've gathered enough reputation to rise through all the ranks. Note that winning the game is just the beginning, so think twice before moving on to the next map once you've won — I returned to a map after winning to take some screenshots, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was still attracting new and different boats. You can also continue to meet milestones if you like.
There are a couple of odd things about Youda Marina: you can't speed up the game, which for an impatient person like me can be agonizing, and you can't zoom in to view the facilities you've built. That said, there is a lot to like in the interface — just click on the boat icon and it will take you straight to the next boat that wants a dock, without you having to hunt around. You're free to build anything anywhere you like, unlike the Build-A-Lot games formula. Even the deadlines given for each task are fairly generous, so the game doesn't feel rushed at all. And the boats are so pretty, and the steel-drum reggae so relaxing, that it underscores the essense and nature of casual gameplay. Make yourself a Pina Colada (or a Shirley Temple) and settle in to live the dream!
Play Youda Marina (Flash version)