Pros: 27 missions or levels, good basic economics training tool, family friendly storyline
Cons: Weak graphics and boring background music made me tired after just two hours of play.
Build A Lot for DS is a real estate simulation game that also teaches you the basics of flipping property. You can build, renovate and demolish homes as part of your quest to become the next big real estate mogul in this one of a kind game.
The game features a nice story about being hired as a developer to bring towns back to life. Various mayors greet you with kind words of encouragement throughout the game as you use the integrated tutorials to learn how to play. I liked how Build A Lot incorporates monthly rental revenue along with repair costs to teach the trials and tribulations of owning your own property. The sooner you learn these principles of life the better!
The stylus was my preferred mode of interfacing with the game. I found that the controls were very tight and responded quickly to my commands. Granted the game is not very complex, it is still a redeeming quality that will keep the younger player engaged. Each mission in the game offers you a variety of houses and special buildings to use like sawmills and post offices that offer extra bonuses to your gameplay. Once you get an understanding of the game, you will fly through the 27 missions or levels and enjoy the story that goes along with them. The only real challenge will be managing your money ahead of home repairs and taxes that come due on the properties. Just remember to build a bank early in your levels, to make your money work.
The nineteen page manual is nicely done with an introduction and a controls map. The remainder of full color manual gives offers a generous discussion of the strategy can concepts behind real estate development. Get ready because you will learn something in this game!
You are going to find pixilated, flat, 2D graphics throughout this game. Even the backgrounds have visible color transitions. Since the game is not a fast paced scroller, it could benefited greatly from better artwork. Mumbo Jumbo games are known for these graphics issues though. They tend to focus more on sound and gameplay controls rather than building 3D gaming environments. For the topic of this game, the graphics are just barely acceptable because they did add some variety to the character portraits.
You will enjoy the audio in this game. Geared towards the younger player, the sound effects and background music create a warm feeling that makes playing fun.
Children can learn a lot from a game like this and is the sole reason for my two star rating. As an adult, the game is fun to play for about two hours, like during a long flight on a business trip. The game does lack depth but the basic principles of real estate sales are here so it is somewhat interesting to play.
In all I would give Build A Lot for DS one thumb up and one thumb down.