Build-A-Lot (Nintendo DS) Review

By Vikki 12.11.2009 1

Review for Build-A-Lot on Nintendo DS

Many of the 'tycoon'-type games have made their move over from PC to DS, with Build-A-Lot being the latest. Can it live up to the better known series that have graced DS, such as Zoo Tycoon and Theme Park?

As you may guess from first glance at the box, Build-A-Lot is a game where you build houses and try to make as much profit as possible. However it's not quite that simple. Strategy is involved as you need to meet the given criteria to complete each level, i.e. build three mansions and earn $200,000 in rental income before the time runs out. There are two modes of play - Career and Casual. As the level difficulty in Career mode progresses, the time allocated is increased and therefore so is the possibility of making more money. Rent is collected from the tiny tenants approximately every 16 seconds (I'm glad I don't live in their town!) and the amount generated is dependent on the house type that they occupy and how much it has been upgraded. But houses don't build themselves, so labourers and materials need to be bought, the amount required depending on the complexity of the building or upgrade.

You aren't thrust into the main game straight away, as there are three simple tutorial levels that you are required to complete before you can properly either of the main modes. One aspect of the game I didn't like was that you are unable to save during a game - if you want to finish playing mid-level you have to return to the main menu while at the same time destroying your neatly created neighbourhood. This is the same in both modes.

Screenshot for Build-A-Lot on Nintendo DS

Obtaining rent is not the only way to make money in this game - you can also sell. Houses will be shown in colour when they belong to you and greyscale when they do not. When you've put a house up for sale, offers will come in via phonecall. They may be at or just less than the actual value of the house, but it is up to you to decide how much lower than value you are willing to accept; offers will fluctuate over time. But don't worry if you sell and change your mind later, as all CPU-owned houses are offered for sale at random intervals allowing you the chance to buy back - but at full price. There are also a number of special buildings that allow you benefits during play. By building a bank you are then able to donate money to charity. Why? For tax write-offs, of course! You could also build a sawmill to get cheaper materials, or a workshop to save pennies on labourers, for example.

Casual mode is freer in the sense where you can build the neighbourhood to your own specifications in as much time as you like, only you start with a blank slate: no blueprints for any of the buildings and limited funds. Your goal is to meet the financial target with cash in your balance, and if you're unable to do so you cannot unlock the next casual mode neighbourhood. This is the part of the game where a save option would have been most beneficial as it can take considerable play time to build up to the bank balance goal in order to unlock the further casual levels.

Build-A-Lot is an interesting and fun game to play, and it proves addictive to a point. However, later levels take said fun out by becoming incredibly frustrating, due to tighter time restrictions. Even when setting off builds super quickly, stages towards the end give you only just enough time for completion.

Screenshot for Build-A-Lot on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


An interesting and fun game to start out with, Build-A-Lot becomes boring as the levels become more difficult while doing more of the same thing. It can get addictive trying to reach the targets in the minimal amount of time possible, but once past level 25 all you want to do is scream at the neighbourhood mayor to ask for just a few more precious seconds!









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date TBA   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   


I love the likes of Populous, Theme Park and SimCity...but sadly this just doesn't look to be up to the standards of the Bullfrog or Maxis classics.


Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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