Friday, January 22, 2010

The Movie's About to Start! - a review of Megaplex Madness: Now Playing

Want a straightforward time management game with intuitive gameplay? Megaplex Madness: Now Playing might be just the game for you. Hopefully I can help you decide in today's review!

What I liked

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop gameplay
  • Adequate game length

What I didn't like

  • Repetition
  • Lack of features
  • Mediocre production quality



Quick Plot

Provide good customer service, and make enough money to restore all the broken-down movie theaters in Movieville.



Mechanics

Time Management: Every level consists of the few minutes before the movie starts. During those few minutes, you need to serve as many people as you can. Each customer comes in with a good attitude (5 hearts), but their attitudes grow sour if you take too long to serve them (they lose hearts). You make more money from customers with lots of hearts.

Arcade Games: During the game, you can buy arcade machines for your theaters. You can visit the arcade in between levels to play the games you've unlocked. These games are old-school arcade games with new names. You can play these to make extra money.






Highlights

There are very few highlights to mention for this game. The game is very simple. But there is one feature worth mentioning.

Drag-and-Drop: In many time management games, you click-click-click to make things happen. In this game, you actually click the customer you want to move -- this picks them up -- and drag them to their requested stations (popcorn stand, ticket booth, bathroom, etc.). The developers even built in physics. The limbs of the little people will flail if you move them quickly, as if they're really being picked up and thrown around. It's pretty cute. This is the first time management game that I've played that used this sort of person movement, so it's worth mentioning.



Other than that, the game is very basic in its mechanics, which should be comforting to those of you who don't like complicated games. Each level consists of the following:
  1. Look at the balloon above each customer's head. This tells you what the customer wants to do.
  2. Drag the customer to their desired station.
  3. Continue this until each customer has gone into the movie.
You will have
  • 4 colors of characters: Blue, Red, Green, and Purple.
  • 3 customer types: Patient, Normal, Impatient
  • 3 degrees of success: Target, Expert, and Master.
You must earn the Target amount of money to move onto the next level. Earning the Expert amount of money does nothing significant. Earning the Master amount of money allows you to make a repair on the theater. These repairs, as far as I can tell, are visual only. They don't affect the gameplay. In between levels, you spend your money to buy useful upgrades, such as new workers, new concession stands, or new services. The more upgrades, the better your service.

Each of the 5 theaters seem to get a bit more challenging than the previous one. There are 10 levels per theater.


One thing I was thankful to discover was that, even if you fail a level, you get to keep the money you earned. This allows you to buy additional theater upgrades before you try the level again.



Issues

Lack of Features: The only added feature of the game is the optional arcade games. But there are problems with these games.
  1. It takes way too long to earn good money from them.
  2. They are difficult old-school games (like Frogger, Galaga, and Breakout).
  3. They don't have keyboard controls.
So, I spent very little time in the arcade. It just wasn't fun.

Many time management games include a trophy room with various long-term goals to shoot for, or new upgrades and unlockables as you play and improve. You won't get any of that in this game. You'll just be doing the same thing over and over for each level. This will either be just right for you, or boring, depending on what types of games you like.

In the Farm Frenzy series, it is fun to keep playing the level, trying for the Gold medal (the highest challenge level). In this game, there was nothing very fun about trying for the Master level, so I usually just moved on, regardless of how successfully I finished the level.

Also, I would have liked more variety in the way customers look. But no. Each person is one of 7 or 8 models. It's a city of clones!





Suitable for the family?

Sure. The kids watched me play some of the time, but there is nothing inherently interesting for the weefolk. Also, the adult female customers all have bare midriffs. Why? As usual, the answer is simple: male developers. Would every female in town really wear stomach-revealing shirts?



The family man's final ruling

I've played various types of time management games, and I found Megaplex Madness: Now Playing to be unlike anything else I've played. The drag-and-drop method of moving people around was fairly unique, but nothing else really stood out.

Is it worth playing? Sure. It was more fun than some other time management games I've tried. It was fun enough to keep playing to the end. Still, nothing about the game really shined.
The music, graphics, and story are nothing special. This was just your everyday amusing casual game that anyone could pick up and play. I almost gave it a full 3 stars, but there are too many other high quality games pushing my rating lower. That said, if you can find the game for a good price, don't miss it.



You'll like the game if...

  • You like simple games with few mechanics
  • You like time management games

You won't like the game if...

  • You like complex games
  • You like time management games with multiple features or layers of depth
  • You like games with high production values like good music and graphics


My rating:

If you want to play Megaplex Madness: Now Playing, click below:

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