Ski Resort Mogul
The Mogul series by Alawar games is back with its third installment, Ski Resort Mogul. You’ll still deal with the hotel business, but you’ll follow a new heroine in a setting that’s different from predecessors Hotel Mogul and Vacation Mogul. The good news: this series definitely continues to improve and makes for an entertaining gaming experience.
The plot is your typical “Young-woman-desperately-in-love-gets-to-manage-a-family-business.” In this case we meet Julia who has fallen for Antonio, who in turn unfortunately is only interested in skiing. But luck is on Julia’s side when her Aunt Sue begs her to help with the ski resort. You surely have to start wondering where all those family businesses in time management games and building simulations come from, but I guess that is a secret only known to the game’s developers. The course of the story is predictable and even a tad embarrassing at times, but it’s only the basic foundation for the actual game.
Ski Resort Mogul features 40 levels that take from an average five to ten minutes to be finished, thereby offering about five hours of playtime assuming you won’t have to replay any level. This won’t be the case if you aspire to reach silver or even gold rating for all the levels, which not only looks nice on the level map, but also offers more bonus points — but we will return to this feature later on.
Your aim in every level is to build a small resort, with varying goals and an increasing number of buildings. Goals can include a certain number of specific buildings, upgrades, simply earning money, reaching a specific amount of regular income, or attracting more guests. Buildings have varying effects and are separated by functions. Guest buildings such as cabins or deluxe hotels accommodate guests and provide you with income, depending on the number of upgrades you have done. So-called line-buildings attract guests, which makes them a precondition for the profitability of guest buildings. At last, shops provide you with additional income depending on how many guests they reach. This range can be expanded by upgrading those shops.
New buildings will be introduced every now and then, but the upgrades – which range from 1 to 3 stars for every hotel and shop – have to be purchased actively with the previously mentioned points. For some levels you will have to purchase a certain upgrade to be able to play them (and reach the related goals) at all. Apart from that there are also buildings you can construct and enhance outside of the regular levels which will provide you with permanent bonuses. That includes faster workers, cheaper materials, or more time to finish levels. The construction of those buildings costs bonus points, too, which adds a bit of depth to the already challenging Ski Resort Mogul.
The graphics of the game are delightful, too. You can see your workers constructing the buildings, guests amble along the streets, and every level oozes with charming details. The number of buildings and upgrades is absolutely satisfying, and, even more importantly, Ski Resort Mogul is neither too complicated nor too easy.
The game’s pace can be mostly compared to the Be Rich series. Materials are delivered quickly, the training of workers does not take to long, and the income cycles feels agreeably short. In fact you will rarely find a building simulation that is so well-balanced when it comes to time pressure and the level of difficulty. Some levels are highly complicated, and some even require that you already possess some of the bonus buildings, but the game never gets frustrating. Instead, expect to retry a level a few times to find the right strategy.
Apart from the story, there is not much wrong with Ski Resort Mogul. The mini-games after some of the levels are really boring and seem to be an unnecessary extension of gameplay, but at least they don’t hinder the player’s progress. Another mode or a sew surprising twists would have been welcome, too, but those are quibbles that can be largely ignored. The game sits somewhere in the middle of more difficult titles such as Build-a-lot and easier ones like Plan-It-Green or Wonderburg.
Overall, Ski Resort Mogul should be a blast for all fans of building simulations, and especially for those who already loved the previous parts of this series, because it continues to improve in quality. If you can overlook the shallow and cliched storyline and don’t mind a cumbersome hidden object scene every once in a while, this game will convince you with good replayability, the requirement of planning ahead and a fast pace that will keep you on your toes.