Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hunks galore! - a review of Coconut Queen

You might have played the Build-a-lot or Be Rich series. But what if the levels were much larger, and you could put buildings anywhere you wanted to? Throw in a cartoony style, lots of subtle humor, an interesting story, and a tropical setting, and you've got Coconut Queen!

What I liked

  • Humor
  • Hawaiian flavor
  • Cartoony graphics
  • Building and economic mechanics
  • Lots of levels
  • Decision-making freedom

What I didn't like

  • I found one game-stopping bug



Quick Plot

Make Lui-Lui Island a successful money-making tourist attraction with the help of some muscly hunks.



Mechanics

Time Management: Each level has a timer bar. Once the bar fills up, your time is out. Your task is to accomplish all of your listed goals before the timer runs out. As opposed to other similar games, there is no "Expert" goal to work for on these levels. And, you know, I actually didn't miss this feature. The time limits seem just right. Some are more challenging than others, and if you fail, you'll probably have an idea of what to do differently next time.

Building: This game is about construction and money-making. You'll build 3 types of buildings:
  • rental
  • commercial, and
  • outdoor goods.
Rental buildings house tourists and make money, commercial buildings just make money, and outdoor goods make rental buildings more attractive. Many buildings can be upgraded to be more valuable and more productive.


Constructing a temple next to a hotel.
The dock makes both buildings more attractive.




Highlights

Theme: The tropical island theme permeates every part of the game, from the interface to the music to the dialogue. There's a distinct Hawaiian flavor that makes me want to go to the Tiki Room at Disneyland. In fact, that's exactly what the trophy room in this game is called - the Tiki Room.

Features: By "features," I mean the little things that keep the game interesting. This includes
  • 5 locations with 10 levels each, and 1 location with 5 levels
  • 14 tikis to work for
  • Lots of upgrades and unlockable items
  • A good variety of buildings
  • Interesting plot
  • Clever and humorous dialogue
  • Unlockable free play mode for every area (no time limit, no goals)

The Tiki Room, with 2 tikis left to earn

Humor: This is one of the best parts of the game. The voice work and graphics help to give the humor a wonderfully entertaining presentation. The main thing that cracked me up were the hunks, and more specifically, the head hunk - Kane. (Strangely enough, they don't pronounce it "KAH-nay" as with the Hawaiian deity's name. Instead, they just say, "CANE" like the thing you walk with.)

As you play, you receive your instructions and feedback from Kane. He's the one keeping a strategic overview of what's going on, while your job is to successfully accomplish the construction, buying and selling, hiring workers, clearing forests, and making the place attractive to tourists.

Kane never fails to say things in the most amusing way. The game is jam-packed with subtle humor. The same applies to the workers that you send running around to do your bidding. Every time you assign a task to a worker (a hunk, that is, a muscly dude wearing nothing but a red cloth around his waist), he'll respond with some comment like
  • "More work! That's what I'm talking about." or
  • "I need no rest." or
  • "See these muscles? I made them myself."
The delivery of the lines is great. Whoever they got to voice this did a great job. Kane and the other hunks are pretty much clones of Kronk from Disney's The Emperor's New Groove. They look like him, and they speak in a similar manner.

During the game, you'll have to deal with yuppies, surfers, and monkey infestations.

Story: This game has a story. Every so often, you're given a cut-scene to show you how things are developing. And the story is actually interesting, and funny. Let me warn you though: you're left with a cliffhanger ending, which suggests that a sequel is coming. I'll talk more about this in the Issues section below.

Cartoony Style: I mentioned before that the hunks look like Kronk. Well, the rest of the game has a cartoon style that also reminds me of The Emperor's New Groove. Fans of the movie should appreciate the art style here.


Liz and Kane



Issues

Progress-Stopping Bug: I figured out how to break the game, unintentionally of course.


You see, at the Yippi Kai Yeh Temple, you are allowed to clear the forest in the first level. But in the rest of the levels, the game doesn't allow you to use that tool anymore. This is the only time in the game where this happens. The reason is plot-related.

So, on the first level, I cleared out some trees and built a cabana down by the water. Then, when Kane told me to plant new forest after that, I closed in my cabana with trees, not realizing that hunks can't access a building that is closed off in this way. But, by this time, my ability to tear down trees was disabled, so I was stuck. I could never get to that cabana to salvage it, sell it, or shoo the monkeys away from it. Therefore, I couldn't accomplish the assigned goals, and therefore, I couldn't proceed with the game.

There is no fix for this. I had to start the game from the beginning. And Yippi Kai Yeh Temple was the 5th of 6 areas to complete. I was almost done with the game.

Needless to say, the second time through the game, I cleared every single spot of trees off the map on the first level of Yippi Kai Yeh Temple. I recommend you do the same. You'll need the space.

Story Ending Confusion: As it turns out, there are only 4 required areas for finishing up the storyline for this game. So, once you play Kaba Lui Park, don't expect more from the story, like I did.

Having viewed the final story sequence, I went on from Kaba Lui Park to unlock the two optional areas: Yippi Kai Yeh Temple and Blue Moon Lagoon. I didn't realize these were "optional" levels, so there I was, eagerly plugging away, waiting to find out what happened with the rest of the story.

I finished the final level of Blue Moon Lagoon and waited for the big closing scene...which never came. No, friends, we have to wait for the sequel to find out what happens.

So, just remember, Kaba Lui Park is the last level of the game that matters for the story.

What a level looks like after some development.
Upper left corner: Kane, your advisor
Lower left corner: You, Liz, the Coconut Queen




Suitable for the family?

My wife hasn't played it, so I don't know if she'll like the game. She's not much into building games.

My kids liked the game because of the cartoony cuteness. And they liked hearing the hunks saying their numerous funny lines. We would snicker together as the hunks bounded across the screen from one building to another. The kids also liked
pointing out crabs and butterflies for me to catch in my net, hearing the monkey sounds, and watching the hunks beat up sharks.



The family man's final ruling

Of all the building/real estate games I've tried, this is my favorite so far. The humor, the story, and the polished delivery made it a very enjoyable experience, even two times through!


Build-a-lot or Be Rich fans are might really enjoy the freedom you have in this game. You can build anywhere you want, and the levels are much larger than a single screen. This open-endedness allowed greater creativity in arranging your buildings.

And because the story drew me in, I'm all ready to play the sequel now. What's going to happen?!



You'll like the game if...

  • You like real estate and building games
  • You like a tropical resort theme
  • You like subtle humor
  • You want more freedom than other building games give you

You won't like the game if...

  • You don't like having to race the clock (time management)
  • You don't like having to constantly track buildings, workers, and earnings


My rating:

If you want to play Coconut Queen, click below:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The end of Big Fish My Game Space.

As you may know, the Big Fish "My Game Space" feature has been discontinued, which means that my contest makes no sense anymore.

Therefore, I'm going to give the coupon code for Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst to the first person who
In the meantime, I'm almost done with Coconut Queen. Hopefully I'll get started on my review next week. Thanks for bearing with me!

Friday, February 5, 2010

News: What I'm up to

In case you're wondering where I've been, don't worry. I've been right here, preparing to bring you more game reviews.

What's taking so long?!

Remember when I got hung up playing Drawn because of a technical bug? Well, it's happened again, but this time it's not a technical bug, but a design bug.

I found a way to break the game that the playtesters apparently missed in the game Coconut Queen.

So, it's looking like I might have to start the game over if I want to finish it. And I always like to finish games before reviewing them for you.

I have another game I'll be reviewing, too. So, don't worry, there are two reviews in the queue.

In the meantime...

If you're a first time visitor, I'm offering a free coupon code for Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst to the first person who signs up for a new Big Fish Games game club account by clicking on the image at the top of the right-hand column. Over there, on the right, on this page. ->

Once you've signed up, contact me right away to let me know.