Exactly What it Says!
When you go into the business of real estate, what is it you want to do? Build homes so that good people can have a place to rest, relax, and raise their families? Set up neighborhoods that are safe, secure, and sanitary? Those are all noble goals to be sure, but we all know what you’re really after: to become filthy stinking rich! And that’s what you did in the game Be Rich.
But what if that’s not enough for you? What if you’ve already become rich? Well then, the solution is simple: Be Richer, and that’s what you set out to do!
Not Much for Window Dressing
Visually, Be Richer isn’t much. Like many of its competitors, it eschews any sort of distinct aesthetic style in favor of something clean, sharp and businesslike; nothing flashy, but it gets the job done.
To its credit, the game world is considerably livelier than those found in other games, like Build-a-lot, as both pedestrians and vehicles can be spotted moving around on the game map. And it doesn’t shy away from utilizing the occasional unique visual for a single level, which helps keep things from feeling too generic. Regardless, you’re not going to remember Be Richer for its production values.
In the Usual Neighborhood
Par the course for the genre, you play as an up and coming real estate contractor. You’ll travel city to city working on a number of construction projects, buying up what property you can to build things to your clients’ specifications. It’s not cheap however, which is why it’s important to collect rent from those living in your houses.
There are many types of houses to build, from townhouses to whole apartment complexes. All of them can be upgraded, which increases the revenue they generate, and also improves the value of the building. You can make things even better by purchasing decorations, like trees and fountains, which boost the Appearance attribute of both the house and neighborhood.
If you played Build-a-lot, this should all sound familiar. Fortunately, though the two series share a lot of similarities, they both do enough to feel distinct from one another.
For instance, in Build-a-lot, there’s a lot of resource management involved, in that you have to buy materials and build factories prior to constructing any houses, especially the more complex ones. Be Richer simplifies this and limits money as the only resource you need to worry about.
In a New Neighborhood
That’s not to say it’s all simplified. It’s just different. In place of factories and resource mills, you have to build commercial facilities, like grocery stores and pizzerias. Otherwise, your tenets will grow disgruntled and refuse to pay rent. Rather than do the natural thing and evict them in favor of better tenets, you have to either negotiate a lower rent, or get to setting up those buildings near them. Now if only any of the landlords we’ve put up with in life were that accommodating.
But more obvious a difference from Build-a-lot, and perhaps much better, is the way the map is set up. In Build-a-lot, you’re limited to building on designated lots, and absolutely no room for flexibility. In Be Richer, the entire map is a grid, and you’re free to put buildings provided there are enough empty spaces to accommodate them. In fact, how you space your buildings together plays a big part in the strategy. You’ll want to leave room between houses so that you can fit enough decorations and shops to keep everything running efficiently.
Moreover, you’ll want to also build along roads that your constructions teams can actually reach. And when you can’t, well, one cool thing about Be Richer is that you also put down your own roads as well!
Delving Into the Business
Be Richer further distances itself from the herd by implementing some sim-like aspects to the game. You get to name and run your company, and how well you do in each level determines how much money you bank in it. Said money can then be spent hiring managers. These managers grant all sorts of beneficial effects. Some can increase the rate at which your vehicles can move on the map, some speed up the construction of buildings, and others can decrease the costs associated with specific actions.
Mind you, this aspect of Be Richer in no way goes near in depth as a full-on tycoon simulator, as nice as that would have been. Nevertheless, it adds another level of strategy to the mix, and encourages you to create your own distinct strategy.
Play in the Sandbox
In addition to the Career levels, Be Richer includes a Sandbox mode. This game mode takes place on a much larger map than is usual, and gives you some bigger and generally more open goals to achieve. Rather than be required to construct specific kinds of houses and buildings as you’ll be doing in the base game, you’ll instead be tasked with things like banking a certain quantity of money, reaching a certain income level, or things of that nature. Ultimately, this mode plays out like a “lite” version of SimCity, and can make for a nice change of pace from the smaller levels.
Not a Long Career
The sandbox is good for one other thing: longevity. That’s necessary, because the campaign in career mode is rather lacking in it. Now, it’s only natural that each individual level last only for a couple of minutes; this is a time management game, after all, and making record time should be a priority for the player. But that’s no excuse for the general lack of levels in the game.
No Way to Lose
Of course, the other problem with Be Richer is that there is never any real way to lose. Unlike most other time management games, there’s never a hard deadline for your jobs; just a limited amount of time for the game to regard you as an “expert.” But if you don’t meet it, don’t expect it to reprimand you in any way; both the game and your clients will happily wait forever for you to finally fulfill your contracts. This certainly makes for a more easygoing game, and gives you the choice of playing more skillfully, but it’s not as if you get any real tangible reward for getting an Expert rank on a level either.
Regardless, if that setup is fine with you, then you can probably squeeze out a little more time out of Be Richer if you opt for the best rating available on each level. The game thankfully allows you to go back and replay levels at any time.
Do We Have a Sale?
Despite its flaws, Be Richer is every bit as charming, fast-paced and addictive as its competition. Between it and the Build-a-lot series, it’s a tossup. There’s considerably less resource management going on, but more freedom in how you play. It may be a little short and forgiving, but the sandbox potentially adds a decent amount of open-ended playtime to the package that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. Be Richer is well worth a look.
Review by David Galvin
Dave Galvin is a freelance writer and avid gamer. Somehow, he managed to find a way to combine the two passions.
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