It should have been an easy win, an easy slam dunk, an easy, wide open shot. These statements are meant to convey a simple truth: Something is set up so perfectly that it should easily happen. In gaming this happens when a game comes out that has no competition, has been well received, and is in demand for the platforms it’s coming to. This brings us to Mad Games Tycoon, a game studio development simulation game that came out four years ago on Steam. The game has been well received and updated since its release on PC, and for some time, people have been asking for a console port. Finally, we’ve had that request answered, with Mad Games Tycoon releasing on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Problem is it should have been an easy win and a high recommendation. While there’s still a good game in there, sadly the console ports of Mad Games Tycoon are mediocre at best.
Like was mentioned earlier, Mad Games Tycoon is a management simulation game where you create your own game studio. You get to manage every aspect of your studio, from hiring staff, to developing games and hardware and beyond. This is perhaps Mad Games Tycoon’s single best aspect: its depth of management. When I say you can control every aspect of your studio, I do mean every aspect. You decide what game you want to make, what audience it’s for, what platform(s) you want it on, what features you want in the game, etc. You even decide which staff members you want working on the game, how much marketing you do, even (if you want) how many copies of the game to make. The game even lets you decide whether or not to put your games on other platforms or create your own game console or handheld console. It’s the most in-depth simulation game for game development titles, which is why the game has such an addictive quality. I originally played Mad Games Tycoon when it entered Early Access on Steam in 2015 and have, as of the time of writing this review, put in more than 600 hours into the PC version. It’s fun, relaxing, and just a pleasure to play.
Mad Games Tycoon is also great at replay value. No two games are ever the same. Perhaps development didn’t go as smoothly the second time, making that title a failure and setting your studio down a different path than before. Maybe you built your own console and dominated the gaming industry, but in another playthrough, you only made games for the computer market. It’s that replay value that keeps you coming back with a different playthrough and getting a different result. There’s even a randomize option when you start up the game, allowing gaming history to be changed. Perhaps by randomizing events, the PlayStation turned out to never be popular, the Sega Genesis was unstoppable, and the Wii U turned out to be a mega hit. This randomized button option changes the game up, making you want to try a new playthrough right after you finished. To be fair, Mad Games Tycoon is a long game, so it’ll take some time before you start a new playthrough after playing through the first one. If you start the game on the default “beginning” year of 1980 and play it at its normal game speed, it’ll probably take you around 60 hours to reach the point in the game where no new consoles come out. At this point you can continue to play the game literally forever, the major difference is that the final 3 consoles released in the year 2025 are the final consoles ever.
This is where Mad Games Tycoon and most management sims start to lose their fun. After you’ve made it to the year 2025 in-game, odds are you have a huge company with tons of money. By this point you’ve likely bought out the other gaming companies in-game and have a workforce in the ridiculous range. This tends to be the part where I start a new playthrough because there’s nothing else left to do. Sure, I could keep playing for literally forever, but with no new consoles or gaming events, there isn’t much of a point. The fun is getting to this point.
The main issues with Mad Games Tycoon on consoles is that it feels like a half done job. To be fair, I’m reviewing the Nintendo Switch version of the game here, but I also purchased an Xbox One copy of the game to compare (and because I love the game). Both versions of the game disappoint across the board. I understand it’s not super easy to translate a game you normally play on mouse and keyboard to a controller; however, the game just feels janky most of the time. To move around your studio, you have to hold down the trigger and the right stick. Even then, the game feels like it crawls around your studio. Even worse is controlling, well, your controls is janky. To make up for a mouse, you control a blue dot that you move across the screen to select various options. The problem is that this is very imprecise, often leading you to click on something or someone you were not trying to click on. In-game where you have to manage and thus click on many things, the controls borders on okay and frustrating at every moment.
Yet by far the worst thing that has happened to the console ports of Mad Games Tycoon is its keyboard “glitch.” I say “glitch” because there’s no way someone working on this game would have approved this. In short, Mad Games Tycoon normally allows you to name anything, from your games to consoles, literally anything you want. On both the Switch and Xbox One version, the game glitches after 12 characters and refuses to put the remaining characters in game. Think about it like this: The game “glitches” when you try typing in “The Legend of Zelda”, instead making the game “The Legend o”, or trying to name your console Sony PlayStation 4 but only ever being allowed to type Sony PlayStati. It may seem like a small issue, but it breaks the ability to have the freedom to make the games YOU want to make. It also seems to me to be a simple fix that for some reason the developers haven’t bothered with. We did reach out to the developers of the game a number of times noting this problem but received no response. If it’s intentional, then it was an unbelievably stupid intentional choice. If it’s accidental, then developers, PLEASE FIX IT. I do also want to point out another annoyance. This game on Steam is $15 normally. For console owners, regardless of the platform, the game is $40. That is a very steep price increase, especially when you consider no new content has been added to the console ports.
Developer: Eggcode Games (original game), Raylight Games (console ports)
Publisher: Toplitz Productions
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4 (also PC)
Release Date: 13th September 2016 (full release on PC), 12th November 2019 (Switch, Xbox One, PS4)
Do you agree with our review of Mad Games Tycoon? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below.