Have you ever wished you could travel back in time? Einstein believed that space is curved and time is relative, so time travel is theoretically possible… at least if you plan on traveling to the future. Build in Time takes you in the other direction, where you build your way through six decades of styles and trends from 1950 to 2009. The theme developers from juke boxes and flower power, to disco and leg warmers, straight into the Internet Age and modern life.

You play as Mark Retro, fresh out of high school and ready for his first job. He can’t believe his good luck when Anderson Construction, the largest building firm on the West Coast, decides to hire him on the spot. He’s even more surprised to find out that his new mentor is none other than his estranged Uncle Al! In fact, he’s so estranged that Mark’s never even heard of him, thanks to a mysterious family feud. As you build up the business over Mark’s 60 year career, you also follow Mark’s life as he marries and raises a family with his wife Norma Jean. Being extra successful in the game unlocks different events that influence the course of his life.

If you’re a fan of the Build-a-Lot series, especially Build-a-lot 2: Town of the Year, you’ll already be familiar with the basic game play. Build in Time takes the same concept and adds to it a bunch of new challenges, power ups, and development additions.

When a customer calls, answer the phone and take note of the order. Each customer will request a home style and color, and later some will want a garage and/or an accessory like a shed or pool. Select the correct house type, and click on an empty plot to send your builders to work. Once the house is complete, select the correct paint color and the target home to get your painters busy. Add the garage and accessories as needed, and move the anxious customer in before she loses patience.

Each level has a revenue requirement that you need to meet in order to advance. Customer’s patience levels affect the selling price of the houses. They will pay an extra 5% if they have more than 3 hearts, 15% with four hearts, and a whopping 20% with five hearts! If they reach zero hearts, they will leave, sticking you with an empty lot. Like in real life, some people are more patient than others, so don’t be surprised if the Sumo wrestler gives you more trouble than the happy hippie. You can increase customers’ hearts by giving them free kitchen appliances.

Is the crew moving too slowly? You can get a crew to move faster by using “click assist” and clicking the mouse rapidly on the house they are building. When the player builds 3 homes of the same style or color, or with the same garage or accessory type in a row or column, “Mega Click Assist” is started. For 13 seconds, you can just click 3 times on something being built to finish it up.

Each level also has special “star scenarios” shown in the top right of the screen. These scenarios include special challenges, such as building certain houses on certain plots or making color matches. The star scenarios are optional, but if you unlock every star in a full decade, Mark will get a special life event. In between each level, you’ll have the chance to buy upgrades that improve your efficiency.

You start off with just one building crew and one painting crew, but will have the option of hiring three of each type, as well as optimizing their speeds. There’s also a variety of add ons which increase the value of your homes, like gazebos and gardens, along with upgraded house types. You can even hire special service personnel which will save you time, like a receptionist who answers the phones and takes customer’s orders, or a home deliverer who automatically escorts the clients to their new digs. You can change your purchases if you decide a different item will better help you meet targets, so the upgrades are flexible.

At any time, you can demolish a building and create an empty lot by choosing the wrecking ball, or else build over an incorrect house. You don’t need to wait for the building crew to complete a task in order to change your order. Selected a garage by mistake? No problem – the customers aren’t bothered by extra garages, so long as the house is the right type and color, and all the requested items are present.

Users can choose to play in “kids mode” (customers don’t lose patience, you can’t lose, and there’s no revenue requirement to advance), or “standard mode,” so it’s suitable for the whole family.

Aside from being addictive and generally fun to play, all of the upgrades affect the dynamics of game play, giving the user a different experience depending on the choices made. The length is good too, taking at least 6 hours or more if you don’t replay any levels. Given the number of optional challenges, there’s also great replay value. The music and atmosphere change with each passing decade, and there’s lots of interesting trivia along the way, so the game play never gets stale.

Despite all the great things about Build in Time, it can sometimes be confusing to keep track of all the requirements when you’re building several houses at once, as you need to shift your eyes back and forth across the screen as you play. It’s also particularly difficult to beat all the star scenarios, especially the timed levels.

Build in Time is a fun, fast paced, exciting time management game with lots of new twists and plenty of flexibility for players of different skill levels. The time period immersion adds an interesting twist to the story and game play, and there’s a ton of upgrades and optional challenges that change the dynamics and enhance the replay value. All in all, it’s an entertaining time trip.