I love movies. I love free games. So when I saw an opportunity for a free game about movies, I was on board. Universal Movie Tycoon brings all the things I love to my iDevice, but in a very awkward way.
As the name suggests, Universal Movie Tycoon is one of those tycoon games. It allows you to build your own version of Universal Studios. You get to decide where the movie sets go, the directors' trailers, and parking lots. There are more production related tasks like choosing where to film a movie. Do you want the coming-of-age comedy to be filmed on a high school set, or take the less traditional route and film in an office building? Do you want to hire just any random actor for the dramatic role, or pay the big bucks for the best dramatic actor, ultimately increasing your profit? You make all these decisions.
Most notably, and probably one of the more fun features of the game, is that you are making real Universal movies. Pick the actors for Despicable Me or choose the set for Bridget Jones's Diary. This game app was released for the iPhone and iPad as a celebration of Universal's 100 years, but it's not without a significant sales pitch. There are little buttons scattered around the app that link you directly to iTunes to purchase the movies. Of course you don't actually have to buy them, but the developers made the effort. The sales push is far less annoying than other free games, but it's still very noticeable.
There are two forms of in-game currency. One is a coin system that is fairly straight forward; make money from movies, spend money on scripts and sets, then make more movies. The second in-game currency is this weird little thing called Move Magic. You are given certain amounts of them to start with, but they are difficult and slow to earn. Some of the tasks require huge amounts of Movie Magic so that means either waiting a long time, sometimes days, to earn enough, or buy some from the Apple Store.
|There is so much stuff, this is just a zoomed in, small portion of the game play area.|
The game functions well enough. I initially played Universal Movie Tycoon on the iPad. Even with the much larger screen, it was hard to not accidentally touch the wrong building or select the wrong item; there is a lot crammed into the game play area. When I played this on the iPhone, the smaller screen obviously made the issues that much more prevalent.
If you like tycoon style games, this should be a lot of fun. If you aren't sure whether or not you are into that type of thing, download this one. I have a hard time passing up a free game, and this is one of the better ones. While the game play itself loses it's luster after about a week, give Universal Movie Tycoon a try anyways. It's free.