iPhone Game Review: Venture Towns for iPhone/iPod Touch
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Venture Towns, like its predecessor Oh! Edo Towns, is a game of city building and economic development, in which you develop land, build homes and industries, and watch your conglomerate flourish.
Like Kairosoft's predecessor, Oh! Edo Towns, Venture Towns puts you in charge of building a humble domain into a thriving, bustling community; this time, in a modern setting. The game starts simply enough, asking you to build a few roads and a small business or two. It ramps up quickly, however, as you attempt to find just the right alchemy of housing, jobs, and commerce needed to fill your coffers to the brim. Make no mistake; Venture Towns is about making money, not developing a healthy community so you will often find yourself leveling a business that you love to replace it with something that makes more money. As your community develops, you will watch your little residents shuffle off to work, shuffle home, and (hopefully) shuffle out to spend their hard-earned cash. If you've made the correct decisions, you will see industries develop, housing improve, new jobs unlocked and your income rise steadily upward.
As with all Kairosoft titles, the game is managed through a series of deeply nested menus. If you've played their other titles, you will be right at home. If not, spend some time with the tutorial. I'm going to plagiarize myself with this next point because it bears repeating: there is an incredible amount of number crunching going on under the game's sparkly surface. Everything (and I mean everything) matters. If a stat can be tracked, you can bet your bottom dollar that it matters so pay attention to the numbers. This is not a puzzle or time management game that can be solved by divining a particular strategy for each town. Kairosoft titles are thankfully much more organic than that, and require you to adapt, experiment, and develop your own path to victory. In a sea of scripted iOS games, Kairosoft's stand nearly alone in this philosophy.
The graphics in Venture Towns consists of wonderfully varied and colorful 2D sprites, and although they aren't as high resolution or fancy as most other top tier games, they carry a significant amount of polish and charm. The end result is a light, whimsical game atmosphere that is bubbling with charm. As with their other offerings, however, I am sorely disappointed that it is not a universal application, however. Every game Kairosoft makes would benefit to some degree from a larger screen. City building games like Venture Towns positively scream for extra screen real estate and I can't understand why they haven't made this leap with any of their titles. One nice little feature, however, is the ability to play the game in a vertical orientation.
If you've ever read any of my other Kairosoft reviews, you know that I am not a fan of their in-game music, and Venture Towns is no exception. I find it to be manic, atonal, and completely without redeeming qualities. However, this may be a matter of personal taste so feel free to pump up the volume and put on headphones. Just don't say that I didn't warn you...
Venture Towns is a great economic simulation in the style of Oh! Edo Towns. While it is worth reiterating that this is NOT a traditional city building game, there is likely to be enough here for fans of that genre to keep them busy for quite a while. If you are a fan of other Kairosoft titles, you're going to feel right at home.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Pleasant, familiar Kairosoft 2D sprites with lots of personality and style. Needs iPad support. Sound: - 2 - I don't care for the music at all, and the sound effects are pretty minimal. Controls: - 5 - A tried and true interface adapted for a modern game of economic and land development. Gameplay: - 5 - Kairosoft's proprietary simulation engine adapted for a modern economic simulation. Capitalism at its finest.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Don't forget to leave some land undeveloped for new housing to pop up. Closely watch new businesses to make sure they are making money. If they're not, knock 'em down and build something else. Don't build your businesses too far from the housing or your residents will give up and go home.