One of the most entertaining new features of Microsoft’s next-gen console is the Xbox Live Arcade. From retro coin-op games like Joust and Gauntlet to Bizarre Creation’s follow-up to their PGR2 easter egg, Geometry Wars, these games create a nice diversion from the demanding rigors of the standard console shooters and racers. A few of the games offered are true originals, games that were created strictly for the Live Arcade. One of the most creative and humorous comes in the form of NinjaBee’s Outpost Kaloki X, a space station tycoon game, in which you must build and maintain a profitable space station.
When you first enter the world of Outpost Kaloki X, you will be thrust into a world of fast-paced moneymaking strategies. Your basic goal is simple; provide enough services to keep visitors happy. While the game starts you out gently, you will soon be plunged into the vicious cycle of power vs. profit. You must maintain enough power to keep your expansions running, while generating enough money to keep building power supplies and more additions. Sounds easy enough, right? But then they start throwing the curve ball of specific buildings, a set amount of power generated or a particular outpost rating, and things start to go from hectic to insane.
The menu is fairly simple, but it can take a bit of getting used to if you aren’t sure what you are looking for. A bar across the top of the screen keeps you in communication with your outpost’s contact (the person calling the shots on what to build) and visitors. The guests who visit your outpost will give important information such as their interests, secret building plans and level of satisfaction with your outpost, so you need to check in with your visiting aliens from time to time, especially if you are having a hard time raising your rating. You can access this portion of the menu by pressing the Y button to scroll through and hear what each one has to say.
On the right side of the screen are basic statistics about your station, including profit, power supply, overall rating and the individual status of each of the four categories of visitors’ needs (social, nature, trade and information). The left side contains general gameplay information, such as your save/load option, game speed (which can also be controlled via the left and right bumpers on the controller) and mission objectives. Pressing the X button will access this menu.
You’ll want to get familiar with the menu as you manage each outpost and its different number of ports. These ports are where you build your expansions, which come in six different varieties: social, nature, trade, information, power and maintenance. Each expansion builds off the previous one, so you will usually need to build one in order to build the next. Powerhouse generators usually require that you build one of the previous power supplies in addition to a particular science-related expansion. As you build the expansions, you will start making money, and if you pay attention to the visiting aliens, you can end up with a successful little outpost.
Those visitors will rank your station based on how well you satisfy their four basic needs. Some scenarios require you to reach a certain rating in order to complete the mission. In addition, there are a few expansions that call for a particular rating before you can begin constructing it.
The game has two main story modes, Adventure and War Story, both of which stick to the same formula but have different characters and locations. There are also several sandbox scenarios to choose from, allowing gamers to just go in and have fun without the pressure of specific goals. Downloadable content is available from the Xbox Live Marketplace in the form of three free scenarios and two that will cost you between 100-200 points (approximately $1.25 – $2.50). The game itself costs 800 points (about $10), but it provides hours of fun, challenging and sometimes pull-your-hair-out frustrating gameplay.
Overall, Outpost Kaloki X is a fun and addictive game. If you are a fan of the Tycoon genre, or even The Sims, chances are you will enjoy this offbeat and whimsical game. If you’re not sure, you can always download the free demo and give it a try without losing your cash, er, Microsoft Points, er, cash.
- Overall: 8
- A funny and challenging game that will put your space station tycoon skills to the test.
— J. Paradise