Poor John. Despite his longtime dedication to Hefty’s Trucking company, the hardworking manager was let go by his money-hungry boss looking to keep more of the profits for himself. John’s friend, however, offers to lend his buddy the cash to start his own trucking enterprise and show up his previous employer by becoming the biggest in the city.
This is the premise behind Road to Riches, a challenging business simulation that lets you manage a fleet of trucks and drivers in a bustling city. Your goal is to grow the company by increasing your contracts and on-the-road jobs and spending money wisely to beef up your staff and vehicles.
Much of the game is played in an angled top-down city view, which resembles the classic strategy game, SimCity, as you see buildings, roads and traffic driving on the roads (including your trucks zooming by).
As explained in the tutorial, you’ll see your company’s HQ, trucks and various companies with cargo that needs to be transported elsewhere. You must click to pick up inventory and drop it off in another place within a certain amount of time; if an order is delivered late (say, past 5 o’clock), the customer only pays 50 percent, so it’s important to select only the jobs that are doable.
You’ll see details for each order including pick-up and drop-off location on the map, description of cargo (such as toys or food), quantity (you might not have enough room on the truck to hold it all), distance, deadline, value and so forth.
You might also accept on-the-fly gigs offered by a buzzing pager (if you answer within 10 seconds) and other freelance (non-contract) deliveries if they’re not too out of your way. In order to advance you’ll need to meet your objectives such as earning $25,000 in revenue-to-date with a positive account balance, have at least five company contracts or own a certain number of trucks (which first requires you to rent a depot).
Pressing the 0 button zooms the camera so you can see more of the map, while clicking the fast-forward button will speed up the game-play for those who prefer it. But if your driver is fatigued, he or she will have to rest for an hour, which might cause you to miss a deadline. To better juggle your daily objectives, you can assign certain trucks to specific jobs when a new contract is assigned or on the map itself.
The business screen, which is text-based, helps you manage your company, such buying and selling trucks and managing drivers (recruit, allocate or retrench). You’ll also see your account balance, tomorrow’s contracts, maintenance level and advertizing method.
Road to Riches is very gratifying for those who enjoy a thought-provoking simulation that fuses time management with money-based decisions. The game, however, is linear in its objectives and only has one mode, so it might hurt its replayability – plus these kinds of economic sims don’t have the mass appeal of, say, a hidden object or match-3 puzzle game – but this clever 40MB download is certainly a worthy and unique casual game.