Be Richer!, like its predecessor, is a mix of tycoon management, time management, and a casual sim. The emphasis in both Be Rich! games is on pure profit, stripping away a lot of extraneous tasks such as materials handling and labor management. Be Richer! moves itself further away from the Build-a-lot series (which it obviously emulates) by placing even more emphasis on property management, edging even closer to a sim game. Welcome to the newest feature of the series: complaining tenants and rent strikes!
The basic premise is simple: arrive in a neighborhood and meet a few improvement goals. Start by picking a helper who will pop up from time to time to give advice as you progress. This time around you are working in the outer boroughs of and eventually within the fictional city of Richmond. The levels start out with simple goals such as building a few small houses or businesses as directed by the mayor or other official. The grid is pretty flexible, you can build onto any empty space so long as it is large enough for the building footprint. Be Richer! has upped the stakes on its predecessor by adding empty lots for sale and overgrown lots which can be bulldozed to make room for more buildings. Purchase empty lots as soon as possible, as a competitor can come in and build, forcing you to pay more for a completed structure if you need room to complete your goals.
Building, upgrading, and all other tasks are as simple as clicking your mouse. Use the easy-to-access menu at the bottom of the screen to choose residential or commercial buildings, or add decorative features to boost appeal and rent. Start with a basic headquarters that can accommodate up to five construction teams and upgrade as necessary within each scenario. Don't like the road layout? Feel free to demolish and rebuild to suit your plans, but don't forget that road access is critical to construction. If your building site is not accessible by road then nothing will be constructed. Go wild and build the neighborhood of your dreams! But don't forget the goals.
Be Richer! has added several fun new scenarios that increase the depth and difficulty of gameplay. Gone are the repair shops, so be prepared to do a lot of maintenance. The constantly-upgrading company headquarters has been replaced with an actual management team. Each manager has a different salary and can help productivity in a different way, but be warned: there are a limited number of management slots. Choose a team that can help smooth the way and make changes as the game progresses and you need to emphasize a different area of expertise. As in real life, the roads will now deteriorate, forcing you to keep an eye out as the worsening conditions will slow down your construction vehicles. Adding even more verisimilitude are the rent strikes: tenants will not be happy if they do not have access to commercial properties. In addition to everything else you must make sure that all residential structures are within the radius of some shop or other commercial enterprise. Ah, consumerism at its finest!
Analysis: Once again Divo Games has knocked it out of the park. Gameplay is deeper, richer, and more satisfying as Be Richer! moves further away from the Build-a-lot series that inspired it. The addition of the management team, the road system, the rent strikes, and other fun surprises push Be Rich! closer towards reality (or towards the old Sim City games).
As with any sequel, Be Richer! has ramped up gameplay by adding new housing types, new commercial businesses, and new decorative features. Divo has taken the time to make the game look even better in all the small details. People and cars still wander the streets, but look closely. Traffic signs, traffic lights, billboards, push-cart businesses, bus stops, subway stations, all sorts of real-life elements have been added to make Be Richer! a more pleasant treat for the eyes. New sound effects for the businesses will startle a laugh from the player ("You look fabulous!" when an event is going on in the beauty salon). In addition enjoy helicopters randomly flying by overhead, presumably rushing to give a traffic report.
Starting in the outer suburbs and working your way inward towards the city proper, gameplay starts out slow and moves towards frantic so gradually you'll hardly notice. 40 screens of career mode (with goals and time limits) and six screens of "sandbox" or casual gameplay round out the experience. Each section is a self-contained unit, dividing the gameplay into bite-size chunks of yummy real estate goodness. Play a few neighborhoods at a time or rush to rebuild the entire city; the decision is in the hands of the gamer.
From building neighborhoods to buying movie-star houses, from constructing railway stations to buying a lion for the zoo, Be Richer! is even more engaging than the original. Perfect for casual gameplay, beautiful, addictive, and just downright fun, Be Richer! once again delivers (as do the new pizza parlors)!