reviews\ Feb 10, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Lemonade Tycoon - PC - Review

Roller Coaster Tycoon is one of the best selling PC games of recent years, delighting people all over.  It's spawned several expansions, a sequel, and a slew of other 'Tycoon' titles trying to cash in on the mainstream consumer.  From Railroad Tycoon, to Airport Tycoon, to Trailer Park Tycoon, it seems that slapping the word Tycoon on any simulation game is a good business move.  So Lemonade Tycoon is probably just a rip-off of all those other Tycoon games, right?  Just a cheap little game to earn Broderbund a few extra bucks?


Thankfully, that's not the case.  Lemonade Tycoon is very much unlike other sim games, where you usually get to build full-fledged parks.  It's a much smaller scale, in fact.  Instead of running a whole park, you're only in charge of one little booth.  However, there are many things you can do to customize your booth, maximize your profits, and make you the leading Lemonade seller.


First off, a bit of information: Lemonade Tycoon is clearly designed to be a PDA game.  Yes, the game can be played on a PDA or Palm - but it can also be played on a PC.  This results in graphics that, when compared to other PC games of today, look very outdated.  Of course, compared to many other PDA titles, the graphics are actually very nice.  It's a Catch-22 - but if you don't mind Super Nintendo-quality graphics, then it won't be a big deal anyway.  Graphics are not this game's selling point.


You start off very small.  You may not be that good at making lemonade, and you're not fast.  You can't afford to rent places in the most populated areas, so you're stuck in the rather quiet suburbs.  People don't expect to pay a lot here and they certainly don't expect to wait in line.  Sounds like a bad job, right?  Well, that's where the fun begins.


The game basically follows a routine: you plan a day, you watch the day unfold.  Repeat.  During the planning stage, you can allot money to advertisement, purchase upgrades, set the price of a glass of lemonade, change your recipe, stock up on supplies, et cetera.  Each day also has a weather forecast and some kind of news headline, helping you plan and keeping the game fresh.  For example, on a very hot day, people will be willing to pay more for lemonade.  That means you can charge more, and you had better stock up on lemons, sugar, ice, and cups (the four essentials).  They're also fond of different recipes for colder or warmer days, so adjusting the ingredients in your juice is important.  And, of course, it's good to spend a few bucks to advertise.


As you earn more money, you'll be able to purchase upgrades.  Supplies eventually waste after time - ice is good only for a day, so you have to stock up constantly, and lemons only last a few days.  But, assuming you have the money, you can purchase machines like ice makers and refrigerators - so you don't have to worry about supplies all the time.  There are also items to speed up your work, since customers who have to wait in line tend to leave after a short amount of time.  Making quicker sales with a better cash register, or an automatic juice maker, will drastically improve your number of customers.  Now, once you start earning some more money, you can move to more expensive - but more populated - areas, earning tons of money.  The game is, honestly, extremely addictive.  You may find yourself playing it for long periods of time.


Another notable feature is the Challenge Mode.  Once you've made it big with a full career, you can try this out.  Basically, you get thirty days to make as much profit as possible.  It's pretty challenging and all, but the neat part is that after you've completed it you can go and post your scores on the Lemonade Stock Exchange (read: the developer's website).  This feature not only adds replayability, but a sense of competition and the motivation to do better.


The menus in the game are very nice and easy to use.  There's a lovely green background supporting large, colorful buttons.  Planning out the day is a cinch.  Watching the day unfold can be seen in a box taking up half of the screen - or, if you're on a PDA, the screen alternates between menus and action.  As I said before, the graphics are very much reminiscent of a Super Nintendo game.  They aren't particularly wonderful, but they work well.  You also have the option of speeding up time so you don't have to wait around a long time, or skipping right to the results immediately.  Playing through without the fast-forward feature would probably make this game a bore-fest after a little while - thank heavens it was included.


The weakest point of the game would be its sound.  Sound effects are good and appropriate, but the music can become very tedious within a few minutes.  It loops endlessly, trapping you in a world of insanity... thankfully; turning down the volume isn't much of a sacrifice.  You won't be missing too much.  Assuming you can find some decent turns to listen to while playing, it shouldn't be a huge problem.


All in all, Lemonade Tycoon is a rather nice change of pace.  It's laid back, fun, and has some nice replay value.  You may find yourself playing this instead of the standard time-waster, Solitaire.  For just twenty bucks, you can't go wrong.  And if you have a PDA, there's no reason not to pick up this wonderful piece of work.  Check it out!



Gameplay: 8.5

The game isn't terribly deep, but it is fun.  You'll find yourself dedicated to perfecting your recipe, choosing where to sell, stocking up on supplies, setting certain amounts of money aside for advertising, buying products to help you out - and then watching each day unfold.  At its core, it's a simple game that can become very addictive.


Graphics: 8.0

I must admit that I like the graphics in the game - the menus are a lovely shade of green and very easy to use, and the actual animated window reminds me of the Super Nintendo days.  Sure, it's not the best 2D work you'll see on a PC, but they are very nice compared to other PDA titles.


Sound: 7.0

If there's one area the game doesn't excel at, it's the sound department.  Sound effects are good and well-placed, and the actual music is okay, but it does become monotonous after a while.  It's not a huge problem, though, because this kind of game doesn't rely on sound.


Difficulty: Medium

The main career mode can be completed in a number of hours, but it lets you move along at your own pace, learning the ups and downs of the business.  It's easy to get into, but takes time to master.  After you think you've got what it takes you can try the Challenge mode and see how you rank against other Tycoons.


Concept: 8.0

You've probably seen these Lemonade games before - you configure what you'd like to do for the day ahead, and then see the results.  But you've never seen it like this - it's super polished.  Plus the ability to add your scores to the 'net and transfer the game to your PDA make this the definitive version of the game for Lemonade junkies.


Multiplayer: N/A

There isn't really any multiplayer, but you're sure to catch some eyes from folks walking by.  There's a good chance they'll stop, become intrigued by the game, and help you make decisions on what to do.  And the Challenge mode allows you to upload your scores to the internet, making for some tough competitors.


Overall: 8.0

Lemonade Tycoon isn't exactly like anything else out there.  The pace of the game urges you to make it your temporary substitute for Solitaire, and there are definitely incentives to play through multiple times.  It's not action-packed, and it doesn't have fancy-pants graphics or sound, but it's still a very enjoyable experience.


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