Game Over Online ~ Lemonade Inc.

GameOver Game Reviews - Lemonade Inc. (c) Hexacto Games, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Lemonade Inc. (c) Hexacto Games
System Requirements Pocket PC or Pocket PC 2002 Device, StrongARM/MIPS Processor, 1.3MB Storage Memory & 6MB Program Memory
Overall Rating 81%
Date Published Monday, July 22nd, 2002 at 08:33 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

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 Inc. aptly demonstrates, is almost perfect.

Lemonade 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 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, Adam Smith is likely the ultimate bible.

Clearly inspired by Theme Park, your lemonade 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 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 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 clearly has that in mind with its logically designed menus and spreadsheet reports of your business. Unfortunately, there are a few lemons, if you'll pardon my pun. The crux lies in handling inventory. Items like lemons will perish after a certain amount of days so from time to time you'll have to stock up. To purchase something, you have to go through at least two or three stylus taps. But for an item like ice, which you'll need to restock every day, there's no way to automate purchases. Thus, after each day, you'll be clicking away to buy ice and until you are able to afford an ice making machine (an upgrade that you'll likely get after buying ice at the beginning of each morning becomes a real life habit), it's a cumbersome manual process. 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 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 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 Stock Exchange. Unfortunately, it's not interactive so the only competition you'll face in Lemonade is really the score of others. It would have been nice to incorporate some competitors, humanoid or artificial intelligence. The potentiality for Lemonade to incorporate other drinks, competition and maybe even a real-time mode is undeniably present.

Ultimately, Lemonade is a different type of game. Open-ended in nature, it has no goals really except for profit, like SimGolf or The Sims. One of the few games on the Pocket PC that is neither puzzle nor action related, Lemonade makes for some unique non-violent gameplay. And for handhelds, it's one of the most entertaining economy related pastimes to come along since the eBook of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

[09/10] Addictiveness
[16/20] Gameplay
[14/15] Graphics
[06/10] Interface/controls
[08/10] Program Size
[05/05] Sound
[05/05] Discreetness
[10/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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