Though popular culture (and the jokes it spawns) doesn’t always translate well to videogame form when it’s the ‘whole game’, Bitcoin Tycoon ($1.00) had me at ‘breeding alpacas’. That says more about me than it does in making it a thrilling feature in a videogame, but I digress. Yes, the screenshots are true. The game is a SimCity-lite, allowing you to build your own metropolis, to be financed entirely by using the trendy, scam-happy digital currency known as Bitcoin.
It all starts with a hot dog stand, but the building mechanics are incredibly-simple, letting you place (but not edit or remove, bizarrely) different structures wherever there is a open space. The map is decent-sized, and so long as you are not trying to lay down Alpaca farms directly on top of each other, you can cram quite a few buildings / objects in one area. From your humble beginnings, a town will slowly begin to emerge.
Pieces run the gamut of your typical city builder, including restaurants (people need to eat), hydroelectric dams (people need power), advertising billboards (people need to buy things), and sketchy government buildings (people need to be spied on). Of course, each piece comes with a custom description of its properties, often skewering the Bitcoin currency, pop culture icons (the Winklevoss twins?), and political realities for jokes, and it does a fine job at that.
Unfortunately, for a SimCity-type, there is dreadfully little in the way of strategy or challenge. Although structures rise in price and materials the more you place, you don’t have any of the everyday concerns that running a real city entails. No public opinion to bow down to, no traffic jams to unclog (although a Tesla dealership is available), no server issues and / or always-online requirements (my small jab at EA), and no natural disasters to rain on your Bitcoin parade.
Bottom line, you simply build however you please, and then build some more. Even without paying attention to which structures do what and how they affect the economy (certain objects require a set amount of electricity or people), you’ll be reasonably on your way to building the more expensive pieces in under twenty minutes. Under an hour, and you’ll likely build the final piece, a monument to the founder of Bitcoin.
After that, well, you’ve got nothing. You could always continue construction, but with no progress being saved or extras to concern yourself with, Bitcoin Tycoon is a largely-empty experience. Once you’ve had a ‘lulz’ or two at the one-liners, and maybe surrounded the Winklevosses with ill-tempered alpacas (…I may have a problem), it’s purely superficial from then on. The game is totally worth its weight in fake currency, but real money? Maybe not so much.
This review is also featured on Indiepitome