With the tremendous success of Happy Island now underway, it was only a matter of time until the tropical tourist-trap genre began to flourish under other developers – and who better to tackle it than the folks behind the fun-in-the-sun farming game Tiki Farm? But while Tiki Resort is definitely a decent tycoon-style title, everything here feels a little too familiar. If Tiki Resort and Happy Island were to stand next to each other in a line-up, you’d have a hard time telling them apart.
The object of the game inTiki Resortis to create a booming tourist economy on a small plot of land jutting out of the ocean. Every player starts the game with an airstrip and a dock to welcome visitors to the island, as well as a small handful of attractions and decorations. As tourists visit each of these attractions they’ll pay a small fee to enter. Raise enough money from these little visits to upgrade your attractions or purchase new ones, which in turn will attract more visitors to the island.
That last paragraph was lifted word for word from our review of Happy Island. Why? Because the games are just that similar. Every little action you take — right down to buying drinks for disgruntled guests – come straight out of Crowdstar’s popular island management game. Facebook has become a platform well known for imitation and copycat design, but until now I can’t say that I’ve ever played a game that seemed so clearly cut and paste from the competition.
Like Happy Island, the attractions you build will earn money over time. You’ll need to return to the island frequently to cash out each of the attractions, and you’ll be able to upgrade your attractions over time to earn more money on your behalf. Also like Happy Island, this isn’t necessarily a style of play that will appeal to everybody. Each play session usually lasts less than a minute and consists of little more than cashing out your venues and occasionally arranging one upgrade or purchase with the money you’ve just acquired.
Still, no matter how similar they may be, no two games are ever exactly alike. Tiki Resort‘s differences are sometimes an improvement over what’s come before. The amount of time you’ll spend waiting to earn money or level up seems to be drastically lower than in Happy Island. Likewise, buying your customers drinks seems to have a real purpose here, unlike the “I’m not quite sure what this is doing” feeling you get playing bartender in Happy Island. Despite these little twists though, Tiki Resort stumbles over the one hurdle that really counts in a game like this: visual variety.
In an attempt to give the game an authentic tiki feel, all of the buildings are made of bamboo walls and thatched roofs. Authenticity is a nice concept, but it gives the game a very bland look. The buildings also seem to be based in a certain amount of realism, making it hard to distinguish the purpose of each building. There’s nothing over-the-top or wacky here to give each attraction any defining characteristics. In Happy Island the presentation is all about keeping things zany. Roller coasters, rocket ships, and rainbow ices dot the landscape. You’ll find nothing like that here. The weak presentation in Tiki Resort really gives its competitor the edge.
I’m not normally in the habit of writing reviews that compare one product to another, but it’s a hard trap to avoid when a game is so desperately trying to copy the success of another. Tiki Resort had the potential to be something original, but suffered too badly from a case of “me too!” to explore any ideas outside of what they’d found in Happy Island. In trying to copy someone else’s winning formula, Tiki Resort is, at best, a poor substitute for a better product.