Geniu$: The Tech Tycoon Game Review

Genius is a little different than the rest of the sim/tycoon crowd of games out there. You start the game as a partner in a bicycle shop along with an inventor and his apprentice. The year is 1850 and it is your job to guide the shop from its humble beginnings to a modern multinational corporation, taking advantage of technological advances as they become available. What makes this game different is that you’re performance is more dependent on how well you answer the periodic scientific challenges that the game throws at you than on your good business sense. It’s an interesting idea, but it won’t teach you as much about science as an educational software program would and the sim side of the game pretty much hums along on its own as long as you follow the game’s prompts. The result is a cross-genre game whose two halves would be pretty weak on their own.

Genius only has one mode of play which is the campaign game that opens in 1850 as described above. You start with the bicycle factory and are tasked with building a mine and some housing for your workers. Once you do this you’re basically done doing anything until the game clock ticks along to the next event. Additional structures are all locked and do not become available until the game decides that it is time for you to build them. When it makes this decision, you can build the structure and then go back to waiting for the next event to occur. It’s really difficult to screw things up unless you purposely try to do so by not following the game’s instructions to build the next structure. Needless to say, this removes the whole aspect of gameplay that makes tycoon games fun to play. This is especially so in this game because the campaign plays out in exactly the same way every time. There are no random events or variations, and the game is completely devoid of scenarios and a sandbox mode. As a result this game is pretty much a one time shot with little to motivate you to replay it once you finish the game.

As mentioned above, the game likes to present you with science-based puzzles. Get the answer right and your factory benefits. Miss the question and you’ll lose the benefit or even suffer some negative consequences for it. For example, a puzzle early in the game challenges you to save the factory’s wood supply from a flooding basement by selecting the proper pulley and determining how much rope you’ll need. Another has a job applicant arriving with a perpetual motion machine to demonstrate his scientific acumen. Correctly identify him as a quack and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches down the road. If you don’t have a background in the physical sciences than you won’t have much hope of answering the questions correctly. As an aid, the game provides you with a subscription to a scientific journal whose articles just happen to correspond to the topics covered by the next series of problems. Don’t expect to be given the answers outright though; you’re still going to have break down and do some math.  Personally I did not find any of the problems to be overly difficult, but then again I can see the math-challenged finding the whole thing to be quite frustrating.

The game is certainly a bit different than your standard tycoon game, but unfortunately it is undone by the fact that there’s not really much game to it outside of solving the science challenges. The game pretty much runs on autopilot and there’s no way to speed up the game clock, so you’ll spend a lot of time staring at the screen and waiting for the next science problem to come along. Personally I prefer a little more “game” in my games. And a sim game that plays out exactly the same each time isn’t really a sim in my book.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 60%.  An interesting concept that needs to be backed up with more game.