Its been said by some game designers that the first 15 minutes of a game is critical to win over the player. But this wasn’t the case in Beach Party Craze, Alawar Entertainment’s latest business sim, as it starts off underwhelming but gains momentum as you progress through the 50 levels.
Patient gamers willing to give this game a chance will find it a deep and rewarding – but not perfect – piece of interactive entertainment.
As with many other time management games, Beach Party Craze begins with a comic book-like narrative about a friend who needs you to run her beachfront business while she whisks off to see her family. You’ll also learn of a spiteful ex and vow to take him on in a business competition to become part of a huge resort.
You play as Maria, and begin each level on the beach, awaiting new customers who saunter up for a little sun and relaxation. Your first task is to ensure they have a spot to lie down by clicking on each new customer, which assigns them a spot near the water. Within a few seconds the customer will sprout a thought bubble indicating what they want.
If it’s a drink, you’ll see a glass over their head and you must click it in a timely manner or else they grow impatient. Doing so opens the first of a bunch of mini-games — this one shows a glass with water flowing up and down. You must click where the water level should stop, and the closer to the rim of the glass the more cash you’ll get.
You’ll notice a small water station near the top of the beach an you’ll have to keep an eye on as it’ll run dry, and you must click to replenish it.
Other requests the customers want will likely require you to first construct a building – if you have enough money, of course. For example, customers will ask for food, rental water equipment (such as floats), rides (including banana boats) and souvenirs.
Not all buildings spawn a mini-game, but examples include building a burger by clicking on the ingredients the customer requests (such as meat, lettuce, cheese, bacon and, er, french fries) and the souvenir shop that asks players to pick up the unique gift from a table of five (two pairs of the same item, such as a seahorse and seashell, and one unique item, such as a ship’s wheel).
Throughout each of these levels – divided into “days” – you’ll have a number of tasks to complete, all listed in the top right corner of the screen. This might be to sell 10 tickets to a banana boat ride, make 3 hamburgers, serve 12 drinks of water and increase your popularity by taking good care of customers (including giving them umbrellas when they sit down and cleaning up their mess when they leave their spot). Bonus points are awarded for doing two of the same tasks in a row.
Your water station isn’t the only building that needs refilling – you’ll eventually run out of food and souvenirs and such, and must send someone to the mainland quickly and return so you can restock each building quickly.
At the end of each day you’ll earn you money for 50 different kinds of upgrades, which might be to hire additional help (such as a waiter or worker), a faster rider to replenish out-of-stock items or more buildings to open. You can also choose to spend money on advertising when business is slow in one area (such as food).
Beach Party Craze offers a lot of gameplay – and no, we won’t give away story twists and the locations you’ll progress through – but there are some issues that marred the overall experience. For one, you can’t speed up the gameplay, which means you’ll be sitting around waiting for your customers to ask for specific things to complete your mandatory tasks. Yes, you can advertize to try and kick start a store, but you have no control over what your customers want.
Speaking of customers, there doesn’t appear to be any personality differences between the ten or so men and women; the animation is cute, such as musclemen who do sit-ups on the spot, but it would be another strategic layer if each type of customers were different enough for you to alter your game-play decisions. Third, some of the wording is a bit awkward, such as sending someone to “secure provisions.” Huh? Ok, I realized it meant to get supplies for the various stores but some gamers might find this oddly worded.
Overall, though, the game is quite fun and increasingly challenging. At the very least fans of these time management games should download and try Beach Party Craze and give it the full 60 minutes before deciding if you’d like to go into business or not.