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Balance houses and wind energy in Build-A-Lot 4

Literally. Power sources are the newest feature in the fourth¬†Build-A-Lot game and it’s a new challenge to get used to. You can’t build too many houses at once or else there’s a blackout – you need more power!

The point-and-click, real estate-strategy concept of Build-A-Lot has stayed pretty much the same in every incarnation: You build houses and improve a neighborhood to meet certain goals. Houses have residents that pay rent and help up your income. Certain houses cost more money and materials, but also bring in more money. Painting houses increases the “appeal” of the neighborhood, while upgrades increase the value (and rent!). Recreational items, like tennis courts and parks, and stores increase the appeal of a neighborhood.

Now, you can also add Energy Savers to the houses. Unfortunately, it doesn’t increase the income of the house, but it does decrease the amount of power it uses. Power sources, like a wind farm, decrease the appeal of the neighborhood, so it takes a lot of planning to make sure you can counteract that with a tennis court or surround it with a bunch of pretty painted houses.¬†The new, energy-conscious additions remind me a lot of NatGeo’s Plan It Green, which was basically an ultra Go-Green game following the Built-A-Lot formula.

Build-A-Lot always made real estate fun. Now, it’s making energy fun.

Buy the game or play the 60-minute free trial [Big Fish Games]


Workers workin' in My Kingdom for the Princess

What is this mess? My Kingdom for the Princess begins after a tornado leaves the kingdom in shambles and you’ve got to get Princess Helen back to her father. The point-and-click strategy game involves you and your little worker(s) cutting up fallen trees, fixing dilapidated roads and bridges, scaring away ghosts and renovating old buildings so the princess’ carriage can make it to the next stage.

Much like Nanny Mania, another clean-up game, tasks take different amounts of time and the order you build certain buildings and start processes all depends on your goals and what’s available to you. For example, if you know you have to remove a lot of boulders, build goldmines as soon as you can and make sure you have sources of food, since the process takes up a lot of both resources. This gets very challenging at later levels, where let’s say you can’t build a sawmill, but your goal is to have a 50 supply of wood. Uh oh. You better find a lot of trees.

Figuring out the order and priorities of each level is the most fun and frustrating part. The little workers, too, are a little frustrating because they can only handle one task at a time and must return home before being assigned another one. It’s worth the stress and the game keeps upping the ante. Just when you think you have the jungle figured out, you’re off to the desert, where workers are sluggish without a water well built. The game also anticipates your needs: Freebie food, lumber and gold appear on the map randomly and it’s a big relief when you need them.

If you finish the level before the narrator says, “Night is approaching,” you’ll be able to expand your castle and you’re not truly done with the game until you’ve built the entire castle. Bonuses, which are different at every level, help workers work or move faster, provide you with an extra worker or stop the clock for a few seconds and they are always needed. Believe me. Use them when you can, especially to fight nightfall.

Buy the game or download the free 60-minute trial [Big Fish Games]


Eggs, donuts and milk, oh my! It's Burger Shop 2.

I completely devoted myself to finishing the first Burger Shop, a time management game with all the right balance of upgrades, challenges, and risk for carpal tunnel. And now comes the inevitable sequel.

In Burger Shop 2, all your success in the first game is mysteriously wiped away, except the BurgerTron 2000 machine, which you buy back from a mysterious person. The game takes you on a path to rebuild your fallen restaurants, find out what went wrong and serve food to impatient customers quicky.

The fast-paced gameplay remains the same: left click to put together and prepare food items, right click to serve. The food items, though, have a lot more variety this time, mixing it up with breakfast, burgers and steak randomly in levels in way that reminds me of Stand O’Food. You’ll grill steak and chicken, serve up tomato and chicken soup, give menus to forgetful patrons and wake up to bacon and eggs. The best part of the game, like with most food service-themed time management titles, is seeing which new food dishes will appear on the menu next.

Like in the first game, locations change as you move up in the levels, but the scenery changes a little more, which is pretty cool. If you were addicted to the first Burger Shop, you’ll love Burger Shop 2 just as much.

Buy the game or download a free 60-minute trial [Big Fish Games]

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