Review by Eric43

Reviewed: 03/27/07 | Updated: 07/09/09

The unoffical sequel to SimTower looks promising but eventually falls flat

Okay, so everyone knows about SimTower, right? If you don’t, it’s basically a Sim game in which you design a 100-story tall skyscraper any way you please. It was a classic and everyone loved it. However, it needed a sequel. And the creator, Yoot Saito, came up with this aptly named sequel Yoot Tower (talk about self-indulgence). Boasting revamped graphics, tenants, and gameplay, it looks promising at first, but it’s really not up to par when you get into it.

Basically, when you start up this game, you’re slapped in the face with a logo for OPeNBooK9003 or something like that, and it feels like a pirated version of the game. Surely that’s not true; this is the real version of the game, and it’s now published by Sega PC. Apparently, it feels kind of cheap and loses it oomph from the get-go, plus the carried over “bbbwwwwaaaaahhhhhh knock knock” sound effect is still here too. I’m not sure what they were thinking of the intro, but it’s a microcosm of things to come.

As you may have already assumed, Yoot Tower, in lieu style of its predecessor, SimTower, is a 2-D sim game in which you design the wonderful canvas that is your tower and sprinkle it with elevators, escalators, and all sorts of tenants such as offices and restaurants. If you recall SimTower, the game mechanics are similar. You build transportation that moves silhouettes of people around the building, and the main goal is to keep people happy by ensuring that they don’t get stressed by waiting too long to reach their destinations. Keep this up and you'll earn money and better star ratings, which will unlock more things to build. All of the same types of structures are available--businesses, offices, hotels, condos; including some brand new trinkets here and there just for fun.

From the get-go, you’re offered to build a tower in three locations: Tokyo, Hawaii, and some generic Japanese hillside beside a waterfall and forest. Tokyo is the tower that is most similar to the original SimTower experience. The other two are just for looks; they offer much fewer features than the former. You'll literally have "filled the entire space" in about an hour for the latter choices.

As soon as you begin your tower, you have a few options to choose from. The offices and condos are back and are exactly the same size as well, in addition to some brand new rentable apartments that are similar to single hotel rooms. The hotels are there too, including a front desk that guests must visit to enter their rooms. The stores and restaurants, however, took a major overhaul. No longer do you choose store/fast food/restaurant; now you choose the exact kind of store you want to build. This leads to a bit of variety, including a CD store, sporting goods, men’s clothes, boutique, book store, convenience store, electronics, orange julius, steak house, grocery store, Denny’s clone (aptly named Jenny’s), coffee house, etc. The stores are now all sorts of varying sizes, and they tend to create tons of “gaps” that you could avoid using SimTower’s utilitarian “block” system. Plus you no longer have an idea of what’s a fast food/fancy restaurant/retail store anymore—the classification is thrown out of the window, and I don’t think this is a very good thing. Oh, and you also have to provide public bathrooms to keep patrons happy, which isn’t too hard to do.

They’ve added some pretty neat features for this reiteration as well. For starters, you can view the outside of your tower and place billboards to receive ad money. Believe it or not, the ads you receive include Sandals Beach Resorts, AirJamaica, Sega Gameworks (huh?), and typical Sega PC/Yoot logos. Also, you can split your building into multiple towers adjacent to each other, and connect them with sky bridges. This leads to some creativity on the part of the user, especially since I find fancy architecture such as this very interesting.

After playing for a while, the game starts to reveal its heartbreaking flaws. For instance, a new feature called “traffic” is a result of pedestrians walking by a location in the tower. This tends to tick off condos, hotels, and offices to no end, driving their evaluation down and forcing them to move out. The reason why this is so bad is that you can literally have five-ten people walk by an office/hotel and the evaluation of the tenant drops in the red. I mean, picture an elevator to the left of three offices. Since oh-so many people are walking by the first office, that one constantly moves out due to noise. This is awful and sloppily programmed (especially considering that offices aren’t that quiet), forcing you to be really stingy with your more reserved structures.

Not only that, but going back to the stores, they no longer “stay in the green” every day like clockwork. The amount of sales are different each day, and that’s a good thing. However, there’s really no way to coax people to shop at your stores (big shopping centers SHOULD attract more patrons); no matter how big your tower gets, there’s little to no interaction between non-shoppers and your stores. For instance, in SimTower, office workers would patronize fast food stores and earn you money. Not this time. Shoppers go to a store and leave and leave. As a result, stores may a LOT LESS money than they did in the previous iteration. Some stores, such as the electronics store and the ramen noodles, are literally programmed to sell little to nothing each day, burning a hole in your pocket. It feels really awful and sloppy and, if given a patch, Yoot Saito could fix this travesty. Oh yeah, and even if a store did break even for a day, they would usually earn you chump change that is hardly worth the risk. Awesome.

For the rest of the game, you’ll be saving up cash to build your next office/condo/hotel/store in your Tower of L33tness, and that means you’ll be doing a lot of saving and waiting too. As you build up the tower, you gain stars just like in the original, but the requirements are pretty easy and usually involve getting a really high population. You’re rewarded with—get this—more stores to build! Unlike SimTower, you have to work hard for your money, but it’s not that this game is challenging--you have to fight against stupid things like pedestrian traffic, random businesses, all sorts of dumb utilities that you have to build, and the usual terrorist bombs and fires. It’s not fun after a while, unlike the easy-going SimTower.

Aesthetically-wise, I’m impressed, but it could be revamped quite a bit. For instance, the city of Tokyo has a nice backdrop with big towers behind you. Weather effects in the sky give your tower a sense of comfort from the elements as the cute black silhouettes scatter horizontally through the depths of the tower. The structures consist of the same charming and colorful sprites that are pleasing to the eye. However, you’re always stuck with that fugly white three-story lobby, plus the sky lobbies are now forever no more. Also, you’ll have all these little grey gaps here and there inbetween your tenants that looks pretty funky overall. At least slap on some yellow wallpaper or something, because people are walking through these halls, I mean, come on.

Sound-wise, a lot of the sound effects are re-recorded from the original SimTower, usually consisting of the same Asian "Simlish" you’ve come to love from the original. No real music this time around, though.

All in all, the real reason why I didn’t like this game is that, from my SimTower experience, I was hoping for an enhanced sequel with extra interactivity and solid gameplay. I felt that I got neither this time around and it feels rather vacant overall. While I do love building 2-D stores and escalators, it’s not enough to deeply invest in this game.

Presentation: 5/10 -- Looks like a pirated game from the get-go, and the menus feel rather clunky
Gameplay: 5/10 -- A handful of new features from the original SimTower, but the gameplay is rather sloppy and ungenuine this time around.
Graphics: 7/10 -- Same cute 2-D sprites, including some nice panoramic views and animated silhouettes.
Sound: 6/10 -- Some chatter from the structures, and that’s it.
Replay Value: 5/10 -- You’ve got a few options to expand your vetical canvas, but overall, the game feels disjointed and falls apart after a while.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Product Release: Yoot Tower (US, 03/31/99)

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