With autumn fast approaching, people who could not enjoy a well-deserved holiday in the sun are able to make up for it virtually by playing Paradise Beach, the latest creation by developer Astargames. In this building simulation you can get along without sunburn and expensive cocktails, but it certainly has its own catch. In a niche setting represented by popular titles such as Coconut Queen it is hard to stand out, but Paradise Beach does not have to dread any comparison.
As an up-and-coming manager it is your task to create beautiful and entertaining beach resorts on various islands. Supported by Mr. Gates and his granddaughter Emmy, the player will learn what it takes to design sites of relaxation and fun, where people can really experience their dream holiday. While the game omits the usual materials, you will have to keep an eye both on your account balance and how much energy is left for new facilities.
By building and upgrading ice cream stands, showers, cafés, and spas; planting more than a dozen sorts of trees and flowers; or adding sand castles, statues and fountains, you create beach resorts that’s as close to the visitors expectations as possible. Except for natural obstacles, such as rocks and small ponds, you can build anywhere. This trend to not restrict the player with only a small number of building sites is very welcome, because it makes games more complex and interesting, although this more "hardcore" approach might not appeal to every casual player. However, you still have to worry about space in another context.
This mainly derives from the constant and realistic interaction between the player and the resort’s visitors. These highly demanding visitors leave trash on every empty spot if you don’t add enough trash bins to the resort, and sometimes they are drowning and you have to react quickly to save them. On other occasions mischievous vandals will try to damage your facilities, or some guests will desperately beg you to find their phone or their towel which they lost during their visit.
Some of these tasks you can pass on to your staff members as soon as you hire them. The engineer will care about broken or damaged facilities, the custodian will empty full trash bins and remove banana peels or cans, the life guard will save people from drowning, and the security guard will throw out vandals. This is where the matter of space becomes important: every staff member is only responsible for a specific area, so that it is important to arrange facilities close to each other, and to make use of the staff members’ sphere of influence effectively.
The visitors of your beach resorts are extremely picky and sensitive – each visitor is individually responsive to his personal experience that depends on a variety of factors, this being the cleanliness of the island, the vegetation, how long they have to wait at the ice cream stand, the cafe, or various other facilities and whether there are enough showers or lounge chairs. This adds a lot of depth to the game, but unfortunately Paradise Beach lacks specific statistics.
The general mood of a visitor is indicated by a green, yellow, or red emoticon in a thought-bubble above his or her head. By clicking on this thought bubble, every visitor will tell you why he currently likes or dislikes your beach resort, but even with those clues it is hard to tell what the player can change or add to make a positive difference in the visitor’s rating. Constant alerts of annoyed or drowning visitors, vandals, an account balance which is changing faster than the national debt, and securing the provision of enough energy require the player’s attention and a lot of strategic thinking.
Fortunately Paradise Beach features an untimed campaign. Ambitious players can try to finish any level in expert time, but to proceed you just have to meet all the goals of a level, the time does not matter in this respect.
The graphics are really detailed and all the holiday guests bustling around are a joy to look at, especially when the screen is dominated by green smileys. The individual interaction with the visitors creates a very exceptional experience, which cannot be compared to any other game in the casual market. While other building simulations depend strongly on fast-clicking and construction tasks, Paradise Beach introduces a new and welcome complexity, which involves individual visitors, strategic thinking in various directions and the classic elements of this genre at the same time.
Altogether Paradise Beach is a must-have for building simulation fans who are longing for a real challenge, while it is probably a no-go for people who prefer less complex games where it is not absolutely vague what you have to do to proceed in the game. Besides and certainly of major importance is the fact that the game is not a simple copy of an already existing game, but rather unique enough to provide an alternative and interesting gaming experience.