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Hollywood Tycoon

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Rating: 4.1/5 (23 votes)
Comments (9) | Views (6,073)

Hollywood Tycoon

JohnBFinally! 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!

hollywoodtycoon.jpgMaking a movie has been whittled down to a very simple process of building a themed set, choosing a script, selecting an actor and clicking on the "start" button. Which genre of set you build is up to you, with choices ranging from western to sci-fi, horror to historical settings. Script cards scroll by on the top of the screen, simply grab one and drop it onto your set to get the movie started. Next, take a yellow actor card from the queue and drop him or her onto the set. Now you're ready to film! Each script and actor has a cash value listed at the bottom of the card, all of which goes into the cost of your movie. Lower-budget scripts and actors will get the job done, but remember you have to spend money to make money.

Each script and actor has a star rating in one of four categories: drama, action, comedy and romance. Money is made by matching scripts with sets and actors with scripts. Let's say, for example, your script has a two star rating for drama and one star for romance. To get more cash from the production (and, by implication, make a better movie), use an actor with the same ratings or, at the very least, a rating of any value in both categories. Once the film is ready and you enter the evaluation screen, you'll (hopefully) see the cash pile up.

The physical game world is divided into two main areas: production buildings and movie sets. You'll spend most of your time fiddling with sets themselves, keeping them repaired and upgraded as necessary. The other corner of the map is used to upgrade the actor pool, get better scripts, increase distribution and so on. You won't spend much time here, as the upgrades are costly and, once built, don't need much attention. But when the cash starts piling up you should scroll down to see what you can accomplish.

Speaking of upgrades, each movie set is actually a four-tiered building that you can improve as your cash flow increases. Basic sets only have enough room for one actor, limiting the cash bonus you get for properly utilizing an actor's skills. With each upgrade, however, you unlock an additional slot and can combine actors to meet the demands of your increasingly complex scripts.

Although not you aren't pressured by the passing of time, Hollywood Tycoon takes place in yearly increments as indicated by the calendar icon at the top corner of the screen. As the days and months tick by, your studio ages and sets need repair. You have to buy wood for construction and film to create movies, both of which can only be done between rounds, so pace yourself so you don't have to end the year early and lose precious movie-making months.

hollywoodtycoon2.jpgAnalysis: I have a bit of a soft spot for the old days of Hollywood. The movie industry was still trying to figure itself out in the early 1900s, so artists were throwing their creativity in every direction just to see what they could accomplish. Now, of course, movies are a commodity we take for granted. They're more likely to be filled with pointless storylines and big explosions than real art (Transformers 2, I'm looking at you).

Hollywood Tycoon's initial setting brings back the feeling of movies as they once were. It's a business, of course, but the focus isn't necessarily on money as it is on pairing compatible sets, scripts and actors to create a movie that works. You feel a quiet impulse of satisfaction when you get everything right, a response that goes well beyond the cash you earn. Later, once the lot is filled with sets and production buildings, you have to run a tight ship to stay afloat. But the entertainment value never leaves the game even though things get a little more complex and challenging.

There are a number of bonuses you can work for with each script, such as awards for good editing, creative props, costumes, bonuses for pairing actors with identical stats, etc. In fact, progress in measured in the form of achievements, most of which you obtain through normal play. Collect 20 achievements, for example, and you'll move on to a new chapter. It's an especially nice bonus how the game's progression mirrors the history of movies, if on no other level than the background music.

My only issue with Hollywood Tycoon is a minor one: scrolling. Moving the mouse to the edge of the screen nudges your view in that direction. This is fine, most games of this nature feature the same mechanic. But your row of actor and script cards is at the top of the screen, as are the filter and speed buttons for the marquee, so any time I went to change these settings the screen scrolled up a bit. I had to re-adjust my view each time I chose or filtered a card out of the queue, which was an easily preventable fault.

There are literally so many good things to say about Hollywood Tycoon I couldn't fit them all in a review. The interface might turn you off at first, as it's a pretty busy screen to look at, but give it a minute or two and clicking around becomes second nature. Don't let the "tycoon" in the title fool you, this is no rehash of every game you've ever seen. It's a bit of movie-making magic.

Download the demo Get the full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


Tranchera June 28, 2009 4:04 AM

So I played this for an hour and bought it. Played it for one hour after that and beat it.

First, I'm annoyed at Big Fish Games for not keeping my progress after an hour of play. I had to start from scratch after buying it. So really it took three hours, but I'm only counting the last two.

Second, this is a fun game... until you get near the end game. The closer you get, the less and less you have to actually think about what you're doing. I got up to the second last chapter and by that time I didn't have to worry about what I was spending money on. It was simply "find the right genre of movie, stick it on a random set with random actors, gain a profit", and I did that for about three in game years until I had all the "combo" achievements. While I was doing that, I gained 500 million dollars. I wasn't even paying attention when I was doing it.

So, this game is way too short and gets way too easy. I'd avoid buying it unless you're an extremely casual gamer or you're crap at resource management.

And just make sure, if you do buy it, that you save just before the one hour hits or you'll lose all your progress.

PS. the little Flash animations drag the production value down considerably. I think it would have been better off without them (although I like the way it combines the genre of film and the set you're using).

Tobberian June 28, 2009 6:24 AM

I wish all these *demo*download*games one never bothers with (only me?) had a separate section.

But I figure it helps fund the site(?).. so.. (anyway wishing:)

Iskandar June 28, 2009 9:34 AM

I agree with it being too short. I'm not expecting a lot of length from a casual game, but it took three hours from start to finish, which was disappointing.

And yeah, the difficulty curve kinda went the wrong way. By the end of the game, things got really easy.

Scripts and actors were a bit too generic. There was no real reason to pay attention to what scripts and what actors went where by the end of the game. With 3 and 4 stars in every category, you could just plunk them down as you please. A little more strategy there would have been appreciated.


Is anyone else getting EXTREMELY long loading times? I bet I've been waiting for the gameplay to start for 30 minutes already.

If it ends at this loading screen, I'm voting 1 star.

[Edit: Sounds like something is wrong, Reece. It shouldn't take nearly that long. Check the system requirements, and try reinstalling the game. -Jay]

Tranchera June 29, 2009 6:39 AM

As soon as you start buying gear, the difficulty drops like a hammer. You can buy two pieces of equipment for each genre and it'll give you an extra star for each, which guarantees no matter what kind of movie it is, all the actor's points will add to your total (which really helps).

As soon as I realised it only took two pieces in each genre to do this, I rushed to buy them and it ended up being a lot easier after that.

And I'm afraid it's not engaging enough to play again. Back to TF2.


Hello - I'm the CEO of Social Game Universe and the creator of Hollywood Tycoon.

I am really grateful for your review - it feels great to know you understood that we created something unique here, not just a cookie-cutter tycoon title. It took a lot of work to do innovative things, because we weren't just building off a template. I'm really proud of that.

That said, I also take all the comments in the forum to heart. Being the first one of a game to use this "system" I can see now that really good players can master the game within a few hours. As the designer it still took me 4-5 hours, so I was amazed with the reports you can do it faster. Obviously some of you guys are real gamers and strategy comes naturally to you!

It's true that the mini-movies can also be improved... it's not a perfect world and we ran out of time and money to do everything we wanted.

The good news is we have learned a lot and your feedback will help us make the next game even better.

Thanks again for recognizing what we got right - this is a review I am really proud of.

Nathon Gunn
CEO Social Game Universe


this game was entertaining at first but after a while it got monotonous and all the scrolling and looking for the right script/award made me nauseous. hopefully the next one will have a better layout bc the scripts+actors scrolling on top of the screen is annoying.


How to get to chapter 7? ANY HINTS on the award?


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