This week’s Blue Plate Special brings me a first… The app was completely chosen by my wife. My wife often plays the games I choose or she uses them, but rarely does she tell me about an app. So, I was playing poker the other night with all of the coaches and I texted her a few times expressing my woes of a slowly shrinking supply of chips. The fact that she did not respond was not an issue, but about an hour later she replied, “Sorry, I saw your crying messages but I found this game that I can’t put down. Your Blue Plate Special?” How can I deny that kind of enthusiasm?
The game that was eating away her evening hours and many since is called Build-a-lot. Basically the game is a real estate simulator where you buy lots and houses, build houses, repair them and sell them all in the name of profit. When the game advances, you move into commercial properties to help round out the neighborhoods being developed.
The graphics are good, but simple. Even though the items are small, everything is polished and detailed. At first look, the game screen seemed to be fairly cluttered and confusing. Luckily, the first level is a tutorial and all of the tabs and menus are explained. In just minutes, the gist of the game is understandable and you will be well on your way to becoming a real estate tycoon.
The neighborhood to be developed is presented from an aerial view. Houses with blue roofs and lots with blue flags are owned by you. Houses can be upgraded or demolished after being tapped. Other lots and buildings may become up for sale and can be purchased with a tap.
Most of the game is played through the tabs in the bottom third of the screen. Each tab will help you move your way through each level. Move quickly though as there is a time limit and possibility for bonuses. The Money tab will let you know your cash on hand, rental income and total value. This tab also will include the goals for the level which allows you to know what you must complete to advance to the next level as well as the status of completion. The workers tab shows the number available and they are used for each job. If you run out of workers just train more and get back to work. Each building project requires materials and they are purchased on the materials tab. The blueprints tab will show which houses and buildings are available to build. Before building anything, the blueprints must first be created.
Build-A-Lot uses a small game board and creates a game that requires quick decision making and planning and proves to be entertaining without tons of moving graphics. There is no one way to complete the levels so each player will build a unique style and strategy. If the game does not sound like it is fun, I dare you to give it a try and start building the neighborhoods. It is truly addicting. Build-A-Lot is available here in the app store for $.99. There is also a sequel available that costs $4.99. Go check it out and work up to becoming a real estate mogul.
What I like: Simple, yet detailed graphics and addicting game play.
What could be improved: I would like to see multiple neighborhoods in levels where swiping back and forth between screens could be added to levels.