A game series that I loved on the PlayStation 2 was Metropolismania. Taking a cheerful yellow suited man and building a town for him to run round and solve the residents problems was a great combo of Sim City, the Sims, Cities In Motion (before it existed) and a few other things. After a Japanese 3rd outing, the PS3 saw a Japanese only fourth version and I’ve lost hours on it.
Machi-ing Maker 4 is first and foremost a City building game this time round. You build houses or flats, commercial buildings and industrial buildings. Your town will have roads and a train station which lets new people into the town as it expands. As the city expands demands are required to keep everyone happy and the town in growth. Happiness is shown as a percentage of happy buildings. Rent and taxes (non changeable) keep your cash flow coming in. Over the course of the day you can build new shops, schools and amusements tactically to help solve problems such as industry and commercial buildings close together, making sure roads connect and that shops are placed within a daily commute. Once the day is over your marked on the happiness and the population growth you have earned and the buildings you’ve built. Build enough and you level up, choose a new facility to unlock from a random trio selected (all branded from Japanese companies) and continue on.
The game constantly drips you missions of growing your population and when you hit that, you get more land to play with and a new mode of transport to work with. Buses, monorail, ships and airports ping up and change the game plan and design of your town. It’s difficult to get 100% happiness but aiming for 90-95% is doable if you plan and don’t overstretch but you are incentive to do so by the constant drip feed of new buildings and goals. Once you’ve completed the six main missions the city can still grow massively however you like and it’s only once you’ve filled up the whole map that your job is done. Unlike Sim City there’s no natural disasters to knock you back down so there is a vague end to the game. You can then start from scratch trying building your city in different ways.
As a Japanese import there’s no English but Machi-ing Maker works entirely on colour – and that’s great for the western world. Different services are coloured differently and if the residents aren’t happy the buildings shade into the colour of the service that’s lacking. If it’s something smaller like road access then road symbols appear. It’s intuitive and easy to understand and that’s Machi-ing Maker 4’s strength. Along with being able to run and jump around your city you can be beeped at by cars, riding the monorail and trying to read what the population is trying to say. The graphics are functional but cute and the reason for this is that there can be literally 50 people running for the bus, a ship docking, a Ferris wheel spinning and you can see rows of houses behind you and aside from a small bit of screen tear if you zoom way it, it runs smooth as a baby.
– Nothing else remotely like it on PS3
– Great city building fun and the ability to walk around it is still fun, if not as interactive as older versions
– Constantly drip fed challenges keeps you coming back for more
– So addictive
– If you want to constantly want to be able to spend money all the way through, you’ll need patience to build slowly and this game won’t be for you
– I miss the ability to go into family homes and do silly things with the family like getting mayor votes
Machi-ing Maker 4 is unique for PS3 and is still an amazing series that I wish Natsume would pick back up again for a relaunch. Great city building without being bogged down with loads of charts, this gives you all the planning and ascetics without all the headaches.
(Also available on X360 – Japanese Only)