I’m a bit of a sucker for management, city builder, and Tycoon-style games, and can often find the fun in them where others find fault. For instance, I think my reviews for Spacebase Startopia and Evil Genius 2 were more enthusiastic than the reception given by the average reviewer on Steam. But sometimes I run into a game that dampens my enthusiasm, one where it’s hard to find any good. Grand Casino Tycoon is such a game.
Grand Casino Tycoon is a little bit of management game, with an extremely strict set of parameters for clientele that makes it feel more like a puzzle game. It has all of the hallmarks of a tycoon-style game: you are given a casino, and you have to fill it with activities to make your clients happy while making you a profit. To do this, you have to do things that your customers want: like building slot machines and card tables, while making sure they have enough to eat, are entertained, and have a place they can relieve themselves. But where Grand Casino Tycoon pulls away from the genre is its strictness. Your clients, especially the named super gamblers, have very specific desires. And those desires can only be fulfilled if certain objects are placed in very specific ways.
Like any tycoon game, Grand Casino Tycoon requires your customers to be happy to raise the popularity of your casino so you can make more money. But Grand Casino Tycoon has such specific rules for how to make your customers happy, sometimes it seems like there is only one or two configurations that will work to further your goals. To play Grand Casino Tycoon you can only play one game mode, and that mode is a story mode where each goal is set. There is no sandbox mode, so to play at all you have to have your hand held by the overbearing campaign mode. This just isn’t very fun, and takes away much of what makes tycoon games so appealing.
It’s really too bad. As a fan of video games, I hate to write a review for a game I didn’t enjoy because it’s rare that a game is all bad. Grand Casino Tycoon isn’t all bad. It has a fun art style, though I wish the casino had a real background instead of just being a building floating in a void with a casino-themed texture behind it. The intentionally low polygon clientele look a little iffy, but the casino props are colorful and fun and it would be possible to use these props to make some really fun casinos. That is, if you had the freedom to.
I just really didn’t like Grand Casino Tycoon. Maybe having a tycoon style game with extremely specific requirements to fulfill is something you might like. But to me, that feels like a puzzle game more than a true tycoon game. It’s too bad that there isn’t a true sandbox mode, which would make the title a little more redeeming, but with only the story mode and its hand holding, I just didn’t have any fun playing it.
Grand Casino Tycoon is available now on Steam.
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