Kaloki Adventure a fun, upbeat tycoon game

Posted: May 10, 2009 in Sim, Time Management

Whether or not you like the simulation/tycoon genre, Kaloki Adventure successfully brings a light-hearted approach to the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. Designed originally for the Xbox, Kaloki is fun, almost cartoony and very upbeat where you can easily lose yourself in this easy-to-learn game. The devs did an admirable job infusing this with personality in a way that isn’t overwhelming.

In Kaloki, you play the role of a space station manager whose job is to meet the needs of customers from around the universe, while financially growing the station. For every satisfied customer, money is earned that can be used to build and upgrade ports. Of course, you have to manage other things such as rising energy costs and maintaining a positive satisfaction rating. The customers range from demanding alien scholars and gossip mongers to business traders and industry spies.

Kaloki has 14 chapters with 6 bonus open-ended scenarios presented in a slick, 3D environment with a jazzy soundtrack. Each chapter has objectives such as constructing a certain number of structures, evolving a business to a certain stage or earning a specific amount of money all of which must be accomplished within a limited time frame. A brief instruction page is included in the Help section, but it won’t tell you much other than you have to earn money to build more…seriously. Fortunately, the devs didn’t skimp on the graphics because the engine used in Kaloki runs very smoothly, providing a 360-degree view of the station with a simple drag of the finger. In an ideal world, a pinch zoom function would have been included similar to what is found in tower defense games, but alas, I’m being nitpicky.

The first three chapters are tutorials designed to provide a feel for the gameplay and to develop familiarity with the various expansion objects and bonuses. You have a personal advisor named Cindi and as well as your boss aptly name The Boss who both appear at the beginning of each chapter in the form of dialogue boxes to provide tips and objectives. Keep in mind that the first three chapters, which ironically make up the free lite version, are just a tease because the game significantly becomes more difficult in later chapters.

Kaloki requires fast thinking as you would expect, and offers an intuitive in-play layout. However, as I mentioned, the game lacks in terms of instructions or clarifying what everything does. A trophy icon appears on the left-hand side of the screen where each chapter’s objectives are listed and can be accessed at any time during the game. A Hand icon below it pauses the game. On the right-hand side, a console provides key information including: Money Earned, Energy Usage, Timer, and Customer Satisfaction ratings. At the bottom of the screen is a bar that shows customers in line or approaching the station with their needs and satisfaction levels stated. You can also view the location of the customer in relation to the space station by tapping on them.

When you begin the game, the station is virtually a chunk of metal with empty nubs and ports. Simply tap on an open port, and a window appears showing available structures with important information such as cost, energy usage, and expected revenue per customer. During construction, a bar illustrating progress appears over the relevant port. Once something is built, you can tap each to view profitability, energy use, and condition as well as customization options. This is also where you can sell structures, which will come in handy when you’re upgrading. As you progress, you also earn expansion packs, which are new structures available to you such as the Spy Training Center, History Hall of Records, and The Space Observatory among others. Because the game uses a tab layout to categorize information, the buttons can be small for some. It is fairly intuitive once you understand it, and the game is relatively easy to interact with from the start..

One of my complaints with Kaloki is the small buttons, and while they don’t impact my experience, they can be a problem for those with larger fingers. The lack of directions is another area where the game unexpectedly falls short, although you do receive tips on the fly from Cindi and The Boss. Also, visually, the 3D environments and space vehicles can be a little boxy in appearance…think Bizarro world.

Those new to sim/tycoon-type games will appreciate the cartoon-like environment of Kaloki, while those who are more experienced will enjoy the smooth and challenging gameplay. At least give the lite version a try, and you’ll know what I mean.

Albie Meter: 4 stars—recommended for current and wannabe tycoons

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