Review by SafeTinspector

Reviewed: 11/29/03

The lost daddy of sim-city?

Some call this the ''daddy of all sims'', and I agree. But this is more than simply a precursor to SimCity.
As in SimCity, you start off with an empty map to fill. In Fortune Builder it's a fictional eastern seaboard with plains, lakes and a mountain range to the west. But, unlike SimCity, your goal is to reach a certain financial net worth within a certain number of ''years,'' not to simply have a healthy city. The net worth and the time limit are chosen from the game select screen before starting a game.
In Fortune Builder, you build roads and bridges like in SimCity, but you are more of a developer than a mayor or zoning authority. You also build resorts, amusement parks, stadiums, marinas, docks, casinos, ski lodges, factories, condos, cottages, apartment blocks, oil wells, drilling rigs, fishing fleets, mines, etc. Fortune builder used an algorythm to calculate income based on an object's proximity to other objects. That is, placing certain objects close to other objects would either enhance or lower the earning potential of those objects. For instance, a vacation resort next to a factory may not do so well. However, an apartment building next to that factory does great! And that resort would do much better next to a hotel, the seashore, and/or a marina. Well connected roadways are also vital, as no one can visit a resort without roads, and the factory cannot operate without roads to bring in raw materials and to ship out the finished goods. A factory does best with a mine nearby, and a bunch of roads. An amusing, yet useful, element of this game was the tiny, little, bug-like dots which crawled along the roads. These were supposed to be cars, and the number of them on any given stretch of road gave a loose indicator of how well the establishments along that roadway were doing. These cars would even pull into and out of properties which were doing very well. I loved to watch the cars and imagine the tiny drivers, and what the view must be like from their standpoint.
This all made for a fun one-player game, but Fortune Builder's two player game was what gave it the most staying power. You could compete with another player in a split-screen, real-time strategy mode. One player could scroll the map around, and build roads and buildings, on the top half of the screen while the other player was doing the same thing on the bottom. You were both occupying the same map, and could either build off of one another's efforts or try to sabotage them. I used to frustrate Gerald to no end by plopping an oil-rig right off the shore next to a resort complex he had just built. No one visited his resorts THAT summer!
To make things unpredictable there was also a news-ticker which separated the top half of the screen from the bottom. Periodically, headlines would scroll across announcing disasters or perhaps fortunate events which would affect certain portions of your empire. A typical headline might read:''Termites Hit Condo Owners for Big Renovation Costs!'' or ''Record Snowfall Contributes to Best Winter On Record for Ski Resorts!''. These random events could help or hinder your best efforts. At the end of each game ''year'', which lasted 15 minutes, the map would become full-screen and scrolled back and forth, displaying your empire, before summarizing the current financial status of both players. The winner was the first to reach the financial target, or the one with the most money at the end of the time limit.
Truly an innovative game, and one which I would like to see an update of someday. *sigh*

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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