Game Insight knows a thing or two about city building games. The Russian publisher has already brought two My City titles and Airport City over to Windows Phone and Windows 8. Each of these genre entries does things a little differently from the rest. 2020 My Country, for example, takes place in a near future setting. Airport City focuses on building a thriving airport and its urban surroundings.
Big Business Deluxe is Game Insight's latest city builder for Windows Phone (Windows 8 and RT versions will come later). As you might expect, this one goes into much more depth on the business side of things. Players will start new businesses and factories, developing goods into new products and using the profits to further expand their burgeoning metropolises. It works with phones with 512 MB of RAM right out of the gate and is a relatively small download, so all Windows Phone 8 users can have a chance at starting their own business empires.
Start small, think big
Initially your city will consist of little more than a farm and a milling plant. But that farm produces grain, which the milling plant can turn into flour. Buy a truck to move everything around, initiate production at the various facilities, and then you can sell the end results or use them to produce even more commodities.
That's the big difference between Big Business Deluxe and other city builders. This one gives players way more control over the supply chain that drives the city's commerce. Unlike the My Country games, you're not just hoping for random drops from buildings. Most buildings here produce a specific commodity (or commodities); you just need to supply the ingredients and order them to do it.
That's not to say that genre staples like residential buildings don't play a part. New businesses require people to man them. You'll have to build homes and then collect the people they produce in order to keep the city populated. Restaurants, swimming pools, and other amenities that your citizens will want can produce money over time without supply management.
Population and money are not the only resources needed when building new businesses. Most things need electricity in order to run, so you'll also have to erect windmills and other power-generating structures. Juggling the general resources is simpler than My Country, if only so that players can concentrate on producing goods and shifting them between buildings.
Big Business Deluxe starts out as a 26 MB download – small enough that almost any phone should have storage space for it. But this game does something I haven't seen a Windows Phone game do before: offer an optional download for better graphics. The prompt pops up in game. If the user accepts, Big Business Deluxe will download the 49 MB file right then and there.
The benefits of downloading the file are improved graphics, although I'm not sure exactly how they differ. Even with the file, everything gets kind of fuzzy when you zoom in on it. The visual assets just don't seem to be especially high resolution. But they're probably less detailed without the extra download.
On other mobile operating systems, it's not uncommon for a game to first download a smaller installation file. After launching the file, the installer determines what quality of assets the device can handle and then downloads the appropriate assets. That way, low powered devices don't end up with high resolution assets. Big Business Deluxe's optional file is sort of like that. It's a little inconvenient but benefits people who don't have a lot of storage space to spare.
Optional side quests frequently appear on the left side of the screen. These involve building or upgrading buildings, putting out fires, delivering specific goods, and other tasks. Completing a quest gets you both coins and experience, so they're always worth doing. Collect enough experience and you'll level up, unlocking new buildings and items.
Multi-tiered quests add long-term goals to work towards. One such quest involves building the Eiffel Tower in your city. The construction process consists of five phases, each with multiple steps. If you can complete a multi-tiered quest within a certain time limit (30 days in this case), you'll get extra rewards. Larger goals like building the tower give the game more of a purpose than city builders that only consist of endless single-step quests.
Every now and then you'll notice a citizen with a red cross over his or her head. These people ask for various favors. Grant their requests and you'll earn a key. These keys can be spent on the occasional treasure chest you find or receive throughout the game, unlocking big rewards like money and unique items.
Money and energy
Big Business Deluxe has two primary currencies: coins and City Credits (dollars). Players earn coins regularly from buildings like hot dog stands. Basic city builder stuff, and it doesn't cost any energy to collect from them.
The real sources of income are your commodity-driven businesses, though. You'll want to produce fruit, paper, grain, and similar items as often as possible. Send them on to be processed in order to maximize profits. Again, this doesn't cost energy but it does require the availability of a truck to move the goods around. You'll have a fleet of them before too long.
All of those goods cost coins to produce, so be careful not to spend all of your coinage on building upgrades and the like. If you run too low, you'll have to stop producing goods until you get enough coins from coin-producing buildings and such. They produce coins at regular intervals, but it will still slow you down a lot.
City Credits are the premium currency. You can earn a few by leveling up, but for the most part you have to buy them. They can be spent on speeding up in-game processes, unlocking items ahead of schedule, refilling energy, or on bonuses. Bonuses are boosts that increase experience gain and other rewards.
Even though Big Business Deluxe has an energy system, most tasks don't actually require energy. You can produce and sell goods, collect money, etc. without breaking a sweat. So far as I know, only interacting with the citizens who walk around the city (necessary for some quests) actually uses energy.
Players can visit each other's cities in Big Business Deluxe, as with most games of this type. They can also send little gifts to one another.
One unusual feature is the ability to write on other players' walls, even if you're not friends with them. It's a neat idea, although people could also write mean things if they wanted.
The social interface is surprisingly cumbersome, however. I had no trouble visiting other players' towns but I simply couldn't figure out how to send them friend requests. Nobody's going to use the social stuff if they can't friend each other! In that respect, Big Business Deluxe feels kind of old-fashioned.
Big Business Deluxe doesn't rock the boat as far as city building games go. Considering that running businesses is fairly dry subject matter, the art style is too plain and serious. The ability to visit friends' towns is always welcome, but the social menus are clunky and confusing.
Look pasts the looks though, and you'll find a fairly deep simulation game. Players have a good amount of freedom with what goods they can produce and how they choose to earn money. The multi-tiered quests and seasonal quests provide a strong incentive to keep playing besides just trying to grow your city. City builders tend to get repetitive after a while, but management-minded players should have a lot of fun with Big Business before that happens.
- Big Business Deluxe – Windows Phone 8 – 26 MB – Free – Store Link