RPG Tycoon Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD


I’ve always been a fan of the idea of controlling an entire settlement of heroes as opposed to leading a few of them on their adventures. Thinking about such feats of megalomania warms my cold, cold heart, and I’m always ready to jump at a possible spiritual successor, provided there’s something to be hyped about in regards to the given project. Being a huge fan of the ancient Majesty series, I’ve long been yearning for a decent look-alike to fill the void. Alas, RPG Tycoon got my hopes up, and I was more than happy to ignore its horribly outdated visuals and cluttered interfaces to get the kick I’ve been looking for. You can guess how that went.


This is the most dreaded feature of all.

RPG Tycoon is exactly what its name suggests: a game in which players are tasked with maintaining and operating a small town where heroes… thrive? Well, not really, but you’ll get about half a dozen of them pretty fast, with the rest of your denizens being little more than fodder to fill the town with. Basically, what you want to do is score the highest of all the competing “kingdoms” in a set time limit.

Upon starting the game, you’ll be met by a rather rudimentary menu sporting the title of main. Rudimentary is also how I will describe virtually every aspect of RPG Tycoon, should someone ask me about it for some reason. It’s not that I need it to look as polished as it mechanically should be; it’s just that I have a hard time forcing myself to run games that play as badly as they look. And there’s an interesting correlation to be found in this game between its visual representation and gameplay elements – both are pretty bad.

But let’s not jump the gun, eh? The option selection menus present a fair number of options, even though some may well look out of place considering the type of a game RPG Tycoon is. First there’s the difficulty selection that defines the speed at which opposing “kingdoms” improve. I think. Nowhere is it specifically stated what exactly changes with the difficulty, and even if it is, it’s hidden in redundant pop ups and complicated menus that grace RPG Tycoon through and through. There’s a sandbox option that allows you to play with all of the game’s resources available and buildings unlocked, which is fun for the first ten minutes for reasons I will disclose further down the line. You can also define the amount of time that is due to pass before the win condition has to be fulfilled. Then there are the more unimportant things such as the amount of random clutter spread across the map and whatnot. It’s fairly simple for what it is, really, and doesn’t offer all that much in the way of customization.


Well, Bill, I’m not happy with you being a citizen of mine either.

Once you’re content with your setup, you start the game with a fairly modest plot of land and very little in the way of interesting stuff to fiddle with. Which is perfectly normal, mind you, for the humble beginnings. What you’re surely going to notice next is the absolutely horrid interface conveying information to the end user – you. It does its job well enough; I have to admit, but without much in the way of eye candy (hah) or tactful placement either. I’ll be the first one to say that practicality and versatility trump looks but some UI elements are downright redundant and/or ugly. Interface aside, the game will lead you through its mechanics with varying amounts of success. During my first run, I caught most of the gameplay features well enough, but one thing I simply cannot comprehend are the quest supplies. See, whenever you send a hero out on a quest, there’s a couple of settings you can fiddle with so as to alter his/her chances of success. It’s all fairly straightforward aside from the item equipment screen, where you have to select which six items the hero will be sporting on his journey. New items will be unlocked as you move the “storyline” forward, and in the beginning, you’re left with things that are practically of no use at all. This wouldn’t be an issue in and of itself if you weren’t forced always to select exactly six items, regardless of the actual logic behind what you’re doing. So, for example, you may be sending your heroes to fight off some bandits and will naturally equip them with weaponry and armour for them to use. The other four items? Hmmmmm, that’s a good question, because books make no more sense than climbing gear. I went with a cannon and some traps, and after the quest was done the game politely told me that I did pick SOME items right, but that I placed them in the wrong item slot during the quest equipping screen. What the what? This was never communicated to me.

There are more egregious situations as well, with the game’s appeal mechanic eventually forcing you to keep building random clutter items because otherwise people will stop finding your settlement appealing. And of course, you cannot destroy older items because that will drop your appeal even more. I found the game to be an exercise in frustration after a certain point, but I guess there are some gamers that will find RPG Tycoon amusing enough.

I’ve been reviewing games for a while now, and hundreds of games have been victims of my criticism in one way or another, but this is the very first title for which I am hard pressed to find a positive featurette. As I said, there are bound to be those who will have fun with RPG Tycoon and that’s perfectly fine – gaming is a subjective medium after all, but I believe there’s no going around the fact that this is objectively a poorly executed title. And let’s not even start talking about the graphics, which I have politely avoided mentioning throughout the review. With all of that, I’m afraid I’ll have to finish this review on a sour note.