Review by TetraMaster666

Reviewed: 01/20/03 | Updated: 01/20/03

Addictive & quirky little Sim

INTRODUCTION
Last fall, Natsume (the folks who brought you the ''Harvest Moon'' series) quietly released a strange and interesting little game called ''Metropolismania'' for the Playstation 2. Drawing from similar games like ''The Sims'', ''Sim City'' and the ''Tycoon'' games, it had a tempting price tag of 20 dollars but was difficult, if not impossible to find in the stores.

Recently it has become more available (I found my copy at Wal-Mart and it's not at all hard to find on Ebay), and, if you're a fan of the genre, it might do you good to pick up a copy for yourself. And don't make any plans once you do.

GAMEPLAY/STORY
In ''Metropolismania'' you are bestowed the title of ''Metropolismaker'', a sort of urban planner who is responsible for a city of your own design. You start off with a small piece of turf on which you must first build new roads. Once you have laid the groundwork and started your building, you must get to know the people that live in your city. By talking to the citizens of your city you can get referrals for new residents and applications for new buildings as well as develop friendships. There are over 200 homes and businesses available, ranging from schools to police stations, restaurants, hardware stores, factories, amusement centers and a lot more. You have to obtain the applications and determine where to put the new businesses. And, of course, you must build homes suited to the needs of your constituents, ranging from studio apartments to seaside mansions.

Once you start the ball rolling on creating your city, your main goal is to keep the citizens of your city happy by getting to know the residents and workers that reside there. It’s a big job, as you will have literally dozens of different people in your city at any given time. Each building has anywhere from one to as many as six or seven people inside, and it is your job to not only get to know them, but also to help resolve their complaints, problems and concerns to keep your popularity factor high. The is the real object of the game: to develop friendships and relationships with a lot of people and keep them happy so you can attract more residents there and, basically, to build a great city that everyone enjoys living in. Your relationship with every person you know is ranked from ''Stranger'' to ''Know the Face'', ''Acquaintance'', ''Friend'' and finally ''Best Friend'', which goes up the more you interact with them. You get to know the folks in the town by either visiting or calling them on the phone. And you can give them gifts, listen to their jokes, and react to their needs concerns. There are six individual stages in the game, with various objectives and increasing difficulty.

GRAPHICS/SOUND
The graphics in ''Metropolismaker'' are very similar to Natsume's other main game, ''Harvest Moon'': okay but not great. You can use the R1 or R2 button to change your perspective on the city view, which is extremely helpful. The houses and businesses in your town are bright and colorful, and the businesses also sell a variety of items.

The sound in this game, on the other hand, is probably it’s weakest point. The sound is somewhat mediocre, with decent voice translation but occasionally annoying J-Pop elevator music as background, and little blips and bloops that are supposed to represent everyday items such as cell phones, cars and so on. But in a way it adds to the charm of the game.

PLAY TIME/REPLAYABILITY
Once you learn how the game works (and, believe me, the learning curve is VERY low, you will be up and running in the five or ten minutes it takes to run through the tutorial at the beginning of the game), you can spend hours and hours talking to the residents, processing applications, choosing where to build your businesses and homes. And, although it is a bit repetitive at times, it is a fun experience and, like many other Sim games, very, very addictive.

FINAL RECOMMENDATION
If you are a fan of games like ''The Sims'', ''Roller Coaster Tycoon'', and even Natsume's own ''Harvest Moon'', I would definitely recommend ''Metropolismania''. It's quirky, addictive and a whole lot of fun. If you are unsure, and you can find the game at your local video store, I would suggest you rent it. If you are lucky enough to come across a copy of this game for sale (again, with that price tag of just 20 dollars, you pretty much can't go wrong), I would suggest you snap it up. You'll be glad you did.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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