Chickadee Games' sim game Notorious Inc., also available on iOS and Android, is only for the unscrupulous, the ne'er-do-wells, and the just plain rotten... or at least anyone who doesn't mind pretending to be those things. With its tongue firmly planted in cheek, the game sets you up as the director of a very shady multinational corporation that makes its money by buying low and selling high on the black market. Turns out being an evil jerk takes a lot of leg work, so you'll travel the world from one location to another, buying whatever goods they have on the cheap in the hopes of being able to turn a tidy profit elsewhere. At each location, you can click an item to see what its average price around the world is... if the price the location will sell that item to you for is significantly lower than average, snatch it up and head off elsewhere to try to find some other dumb schmuck to take it off your hands at a higher price. It's not all smooth sailing, however... as you travel, you have the chance to encounter special events, and you'll have multiple options to handle them with different success chances for each. Back at your evil island of evil no-goodness, you can spend cash on helpful upgrades, everything from radio towers to listen for business opportunities, to training facilities to help place your eyes and ears everywhere... but only if your Notoriety is high enough.
Sometimes when it comes to simulations simplicity is beautiful, and Notorious Inc is definitely one fetching little gem. Gameplay is initially pretty straightforward as you hop from point to point on the world map, and the game streamlines your buying and selling by keeping track of both what the average item price is, as well as what you actually paid for your current inventory, so you'll always know when you'll be getting the best value. The clock ticks down as you travel, and when the end of the year comes around, a big chunk of your on-hand cash will be sent to the mysterious Philanthropy Fund... you can hide your cash in the bank to avoid this, but the Fund will be important to you later on. Your other "currency" is actually in the form of Junior Executives... they cost money to hire, but can be "spent" to accomplish certain objectives for you, or save you from hairy encounters. As you upgrade your island with better facilities, you'll unlock more options, but beware, the longer you play, the more challenging the game becomes.
Make no mistake, Notorious Inc looks absolutely fantastic, with its rich colours and quirky character design that make it feel professionally polished. The interface is simple, clean, and easy to use, which makes jumping into play and navigating around a snap. Its basic gameplay formula is simple in a way that some might find a little too basic without any of the more complex mechanics other simulations might offer, but it's also extremely addictive in its "one more day" style of casual black market mongering. Though there are a few typos here and there, on the whole the writing is engaging silly and cheerful. If Notorious Inc stumbles, it's that it gets a little too repetitive early on, especially when you're jumping from port to port, hoping you stumble across good prices with no way to predict where to find them, or even if you're wasting your time traveling to a place that suddenly decides it won't carry (and therefore buy) whatever's in your inventory. You'll have to do some grinding to unlock new locations and helpful facilities, but Notorious Inc is the sort of game you can play as much or as little of any time you want. I'd love to see a bigger, more elaborate sequel somewhere down the line, but if you're craving something casual, Notorious Inc. is well worth a look.