Tower Mogul manages to capitalize two prevailing trends in the industry: the first is the imitation of a Sim franchise and the second is the addition of Tycoon or Mogul to its name. Tower Mogul is, in fact, a miniature replica of Yoot’s Tower. To North American audiences, this product was republished by Maxis under the name SimTower. Tower Mogul is essentially the same product, perfectly capturing the addictiveness that SimTower provided.
For those of you who are not familiar with the pedigree of Tower Mogul, the point of this game is to create a skyscraper tower on the scale of things we expect from Donald Trump during the 1980s. Your dream skyscraper can extend many floors upwards, from side to side and drill down into the subterranean level. Tower Mogul lets you build any type of skyscraper. You can fill the tower full of offices, condominiums or hotel rooms. Each type of resident will demand different things from the facility. Office workers, for example, tend to crowd around restaurants during lunch periods. Hotel guests will require housekeeping and a service elevator to keep their suites and rooms clean after each stay.
The most crucial thing about managing a tower in Tower Mogul is controlling the flow of traffic. Tenants must be able to get to their destinations. This can be done through various ways. For lower levels and lobbies, escalators and stairs can be used. For higher levels, you will need to use an elevator, each shaft costing a considerable amount of up front investment and capable of only carrying a half dozen elevator carts. People also travel around the building at different times. During the mornings, condo residents will want to leave the building to go out to work or go to school. At the same time, office tenants will want to get up to their workplace. Placing transportation in the right places without incurring too much unnecessary cost is part of the tower building challenge.
Tenants will also require other amenities, including medical centers, maintenance personnel, etc. Balancing the conflicting needs of your tenants is useful to increase the rating of your building and get access to further enhancements. The enhancements generally make more efficient use of your space in the tower. To get this tenant satisfaction, you have to make the right decisions. For example, condo owners don’t want to buy a condo right next to a busy office. Nobody really likes to live, work or stay right behind an elevator either.
Creating a profitable book in Tower Mogul is not too difficult. The difficulty curve here is shallower than it was in SimTower. Much of this is due to inherent simplicity. You can’t get an individual opinion from one of your denizens in the building. And certainly, the game is not as sophisticated as say Simcity where you can create virtual citizens and follow them around. I remember back in SimTower where whole swaths and floors of a tower could go red with tenant approval rates in the low teens all of a sudden. Usually, it’s because I overstretched an elevator shaft or placed a restroom next to a condo. But Tower Mogul is more forgiving.
The graphics in Tower Mogul are scaled to fit a handheld well. The user interface takes a few minutes to get used to but everything can be carried out on a diminutive screen with stylus without too much hassle. Even scrolling from one side of the tower to another is simple. The only problem I kept running into was with extending the height of an elevator shaft. It takes some precise stylus taps to finish that task. Otherwise, the easy to use SimTower interface migrates nicely to the Pocket PC.
SimTower was more sophisticated. It featured some scenarios while this game only has a sandbox mode. The graphics were also more complex in SimTower and Yoot’s Tower. But the area where this product could use the most work is in the music and sound effects. The musical soundtrack is simply too short even in its three variations. By turning them off, you'll find that the game is nearly bereft of sound except for a few effects. I remember hearing more hustle and bustle from SimTower.
There is something inexplicably attractive about Tower Mogul. It appeals even more to me; a capitalist at heart who loves big buildings and such. Something propels me to go back to Tower Mogul, drawing up plans for new sections or wings in my tower, creating more amenities to satisfy my tenants or analyzing traffic patterns to get the best use out of my escalator-elevator combinations. The tinkering is almost like a science but one that is ceaselessly fascinating.