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atari mania
Written by  :  Martin Smith (78)
Written on  :  Nov 08, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars

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A breath of fresh air - strategic and innovative yet humourous and surprising

The Good

The graphics are luscious, with an amazing amount of attention to detail as each of the professionals go about their business. I especially loved the animations of the fisherman and the miners.

The depth of the economic system in which every resource has its uses and must be correctly allocated, is staggering. The raw materials are chopped down, grown, mined or cut up, then transformed and assigned. When you run out of something, it's always your fault, and can be overcome thanks to the emergency program.

Constructing the road system takes practice, but allows for a myriad of routes ensuring no clogs.

Positioning your initial castle, and the guard huts and watchtowers to expand, is always a compromise, and, as ever, a small decision can have huge effects later. Make sure to get yourself as much mine land as possible, plus some smooth ground, and ideally waters for the fishing, as this is the easiest way to produce the food.

Another thing I love is the combat, both on attack and defence. The cutesy look conceals great depth and strategy, with the chance to target a specific hut so as to cut off or burn down a crucial part of their production chain - of course, they can do this to you as well.

The Bad

It's a little too easy to make costly mistakes early on whose full repercussions are unpredictable, and don't unleash themselves for several hours' play, which is frustrating.

The Bottom Line

The introduction sequence sets the scene perfectly - making it clear that this is no dry functional strategy game. The basic concept of controlling a society by allocating resources to produce food, tools and weapons, via farming, mining, forestry and milling amongst others, and attacking the enemies to conquer the whole area. It's been done many times, before and since, but this series stands alone for many reasons

Atari 50