by: Simon Hill
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 5/25/2012
• Leave a comment
There have been many tycoon games over the years, many management sims placing you in charge of everything from schools to zoos to entire cities. What are the best tycoon games on the market? In this article we take a look at the tycoon games you'll want to play and highlight the ones to avoid.
slide 1 of 14
Tycoon Game Genre
Everyone loves tycoon style games and there are loads out there to choose from. Tycoon games are all about building and management. They task you with building zoos, theme parks, hotels or even entire cities. Hire the necessary staff, build structures that will entice people in and keep them happy once they are there; all with the ultimate aim of generating as much cash as possible. The best tycoon games offer a great alternative to action packed or violent game-play and they are popular with all ages and both genders.
I’ve tried out loads of management sims over the years largely because my wife is addicted to them. There are some terrible examples and some delightfully addictive games. In this article I’ll give you a run down of the best titles, the cream of the crop, the top ten tycoon games on the market in no particular order.
slide 2 of 14
Las Vegas is fertile ground for tycoon gaming and there are a number of titles set in sin city which charge you with building casinos and fleecing the population. Casino Empire is a simple title which is a lot of fun. The progression sees you take over management of various casinos as you work your way up the strip to increasingly opulent joints. The tasks are not too difficult and the game makes for an enjoyable evening of gaming. You fit out the casino, you can attract various guests including some comical celebrity characters and you can play in poker and blackjack tournaments. If you want a seriously in depth and involved tycoon game with a casino focus then try Vegas: Make It Big instead.
slide 3 of 14
Sid Meier’s Sim Golf
This is a super cute game from acclaimed designer Sid Meier. In Sim Golf you have to design and construct a golf course, provide amenities, hire staff and attract wealthy punters to play a round. It has the typical brightly coloured sim game art style and some nice touches of humour. You can also play the course and make adjustments as you see fit. Tournaments can be held and you can take part yourself to be in with a chance of winning cash in front of the television cameras.
slide 4 of 14
This is one of my favourite games of all time and a strong candidate for the title of best tycoon game ever. You are the manager of a movie studio and you have to build the necessary sets and production buildings as well as amenities to pamper your stars. You have to hire staff including actors, actresses and directors and micro manage their careers including their appearance, relationships, habits, trailer and of course the films they work on. The Movies is a huge game and on top of the tycoon management you can also write and direct your own films. It is beautifully made with a great art style, lots of humour and some terrific voiceover work. There is also an expansion pack called Stunts and Effects which allows you to hire stuntmen and create visual effects for your cinematic masterpieces.
slide 5 of 14
slide 6 of 14
A game which places you in charge of a hospital may not sound like a barrel of laughs but Theme Hospital takes a comedy approach. You have to design the internal layout of your hospital and try to treat as many patients as possible. You also have to hire the necessary staff and optimize the layout for best results. The conditions your patients suffer from are all joke maladies like bloaty head and slack tongue. This is actually quite a challenging game as you battle to improve your hospital’s reputation and it is a lot of fun.
slide 7 of 14
Theme Park World
As you might imagine this game is all about constructing a theme park. You can build roller coasters and log flumes, spinning teacups and pirate ships. The idea is to make your theme park as exciting as possible and you also need to make it efficient. You can construct a range of amenities from toilets to restaurants and hire various staff members to make sure your park continues to run. Theme Park World also includes various different themes for your parks and you can even try out your rides in first-person or take a wander around your creation.
slide 8 of 14
Roller Coaster Tycoon
This is another game set in a theme park and there have been various releases in the series. The best was Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 in which you had to build a theme park and fill it with various rides and amenities. The focus here was more on the individual architecture of rides and you could spend hours building the most amazing roller coasters known to man. There were a number of challenging scenarios to play through and you could complete them in any order.
slide 9 of 14
There are a few entries and spin offs in the Zoo Tycoon series and the best title is probably the second one because it simplified some of the more annoying aspects of the game-play. The basic idea is to construct a zoo and attract people in. You need exhibits which are well suited to the inhabitants, happy animals are more likely to please the visitors. You also need to add amenities and hire staff to prevent the animals escaping and running amok. This is an enjoyable and relaxing game which is suitable for the whole family and it has the side benefit of teaching you various facts about animals.
slide 10 of 14
slide 11 of 14
This series of games is hugely popular and challenges you to build a railway company and compete directly with other companies to turn the best profit and become the market leader. It focuses on game-play over graphics and you can construct various types of stations and trains, lay track between cities and add various amenities. Railway Tycoon is not my favourite game to be honest although it is another well designed title from Sid Meier.
slide 12 of 14
This is a little known game I picked up in the bargain bin and found to be surprisingly enjoyable. It challenges you to build and run a series of beach resorts for tourists. The setting is like Ibiza and the game features a trance music soundtrack. You can build the usual amenities as well as night clubs, party boats and lots of bars. There are various touches of humour, you can up the alcohol and watch your resort turn sleazy with sex on the beach and lots of vomiting patrons. You can also focus on water sports but you have watch out for sharks, nothing turns off the tourists like getting eaten. It is flawed but for a budget price this is a good night’s entertainment.
slide 13 of 14
The Sim City series is terrific and casts you as the mayor of a town which you have to build up into a sprawling metropolis. SimCity 4 is the latest release in the series and the graphics have improved over the years but there is little change to the core game-play which Will Wright developed for the original before he moved on to The Sims. This is a challenging game and you have to build power and water grids, roads and rail, police, fire and medical services and zone various bits of land to encourage businesses to grow and people to settle. It is a sandbox game so there is no ultimate aim and it can be very challenging to make enough money to build your dream city.
slide 14 of 14
Tycoon Games to Avoid
It is inevitable that I have also come across some terrible releases in the tycoon genre and so to save you some painful gaming experiences here are a few titles you should avoid. The Prison Tycoon series is just awful, I know it sounds like it might be fun but believe me it isn’t. Cruise Ship Tycoon is incredibly limited and ultimately totally rubbish. School Tycoon is another title which sounded like it had some potential but turned out to be fatally flawed.
So there you have it, the top ten tycoon games. Most of them are available at budget prices now too so dust off that cigar and top hat and get ready to make your fortune as a tycoon.