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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: September 18, 2001
Sometimes the name of a computer game is downright misleading. Contrary to what you might think, French developer Monte Cristo’s soon-to-be-released Gadget Tycoon (a sequel to its earlier release Start-Up 2000) is not another clone of Microprose’s RollerCoaster Tycoon, nor is it in the genre of Dynamix’s Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions. So what kind of offering is this? In many ways, it defies categorization. The title actually has more in common with a pure business simulation like Enlight’s Capitalism Plus. Gadget Tycoon is a management simulation that transports you into the world of assembly line manufacturing, where what you do is a lot more like running a plant than being an inventor.
In a most depressing backdrop, you start out as a low-living college dropout who has every characteristic of a complete loser. You control an abandoned warehouse at the edge of town, and hope to start from that humble beginning to construct your own industrial empire. It is sad that Gadget Tycoon seems to be telling you that it is perfectly acceptable to be like the lame hero, or even worse (by implication) that those who play computer games are social losers. Moreover, the background story ends up having little to do with your strategic decision making as you play.
You may hire a total of 17 employees who may vary in morale, efficiency, salary, and overall qualifications. The higher are employees’ qualification levels, the larger the number of actions they can carry out. Possible professions include accountant, human resources manager, lawyer, publicity officer, sales manager, researchers, supervisor, technicians, security guard, spy, and Mafioso. After hire, you have to be very careful to make sure that your workers stay efficient and do not leave your company. You may give them training (or send them to a motivational seminar) after you hire a human resources manager, but you need to follow this up with a pay raise. Oddly, getting a higher-level desk is a key first step to upgrading employees.
For solo offline play, Gadget Tycoon offers campaign, free play, or tutorial modes. In campaign mode, ten missions are available, testing your management skills in different scenarios which you unlock sequentially. In free play mode, you have wide latitude in your actions and are able to set the level of competitor artificial intelligence, the amount of initial cash, and the victory conditions. In tutorial mode, you learn through application all of the basic ways of accomplishing tasks in a series of multiple assignments. You may use either tutorial or free play modes to bone up for the rigors of the campaign.
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