CNBC, Nasdaq QQQ, dot-com companies and the infamous phrase: "I'm going to do a startup". These are just some of the terms born in our greatest contribution to the new millennium: the New Economy. We've come to love it and, if you're a technology hater, loathe it. It follows easily that business simulations are hot stuff on the gaming market today. With so many 'Tycoon' games coming out, it was inevitable something along the lines of a business simulation would make it on to the handheld. With minimal emphasis on graphics, the fit, as Lemonade Tycoon aptly demonstrates, is almost perfect.
Lemonade Tycoon works on the principles of entrepreneurship, like the popular Tycoon games but it works slightly different. Each day, you're given a charting of the weather forecast, choice of location and a chance to buy essential supplies. Afterwards, you watch the day pass away passively, hoping the gambles you made for your Lemonade Tycoon stand earlier in the day paid off. For a poor day, you're likely to stock up on fewer perishable supplies. For a hot and sunny one, it's wise to beef up everything just in case you run out. Therefore, maximum profitability comes from exactly matching your supply with the demand curve. In RTS games, people often quote Sun Tzu. In games like Lemonade Tycoon, Adam Smith is likely the ultimate bible.
Clearly inspired by Theme Park, your Lemonade Tycoon stand takes place in colorful environments complete with live AI masses who become your patrons. Thought bubbles above people's heads is a clear nod to the Bullfrog franchise that started this trend for the genre. If you don't have time to view the entire passage of time, Lemonade Tycoon allows you to skip it but you still get the essential details in an easy to read format. How many customers were served, how many left in frustration and the state of your supplies are available at a glance. As you amass fortunes, you'll find that your business is quickly outgrowing the potential customers available at your locale. You can switch to another location by paying rent, although if business suffers horribly, your initial starting place will always remain free. Lemonade Tycoon even lets you launch advertising campaigns to increase traffic to your place. Repeat bad business and your stand will eventually be deserted.
In the corporate world, my father told me that the CEO often reads only one paragraph of your report, the VP and directors one page, the managers two pages and the lowly pawns will actually go through the whole thing. Lemonade Tycoon was originally made for PDA handhelds, and you can even see it now on Yahoo’s games section. But the cell phone interface is a compromise when it comes to getting reports on how your business is doing. You either have to settle for less data or more data in less real estate.
The other potential stinker in the game is the 'secret formula'. Drinks, like Coca Cola or Pepsi, have a certain proportion of ingredients. Since this is Lemonade Tycoon we're talking about and not sugar, sorry, soft drinks, there's an exact science to it. The laws behind that science are quite simple. On cold days, you'll want to pare down the ice. On hot days, ice becomes a necessary requisite. Lemon to sugar ratio is also another thing to balance. The trouble comes in producing a perfect formula. Often times, the game throws a string of sunny days, followed by some rainy cold ones. The formula that netted you huge sales one sunny day, may actually turn out to be significantly less profitable the next. Lady luck, it seems, has a lot bigger role to play in supply and demand than Adam Smith was willing to concede.
Extended play of Lemonade Tycoon might give a bittersweet taste but there's no denying the game is easy to pick up and put down. Its emphasis on day-to-day operations makes the simulation more tactical than about long term strategy. You're able to post your scores via the net to the LSX or Lemonade Tycoon Stock Exchange. Unfortunately, it's not interactive so the only competition you'll face in Lemonade Tycoon is really the score of others. It would have been nice to incorporate some competitors, humanoid or artificial intelligence. The potentiality for Lemonade Tycoon to incorporate other drinks, competition and maybe even a real-time mode is undeniably present.
Ultimately, Lemonade Tycoon is a different type of game. Open-ended in nature, it has no goals really except for profit, like SimGolf or The Sims. Lemonade Tycoon makes for some unique non-violent gameplay. And for wireless, the game is easy to pick up and put down with much continuity between sessions.