Time management just got electric with G5 Entertainment’s newest release, Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source. If you’re familiar with the previous Build-A-Lot games, you might be wondering how they could possibly change up a pretty standard time management city builder in a way that would make it seem fresh and new, but G5 has managed to do it – and in a way that really fits with the times.
Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source works on the basic premise that you are in charge of building and maintaining a small city. You will need to build and repair houses of various types, train workers and engineers, buy and sell, and of course, collect (hopefully) lots of rent. You have a list of goals that you must complete in each level, and you’ll play either until you meet all goals or your time runs out, which ever comes first. If you run out of time, you’ll need to repeat the level, as you are unable to advance without mastering each level.
You’ll start out each level with a certain amount of money and materials to get your city off the ground. How you use this at the beginning is often the deciding factor in your success. You must complete your goals before the time runs out, but you also will need a source of money, so building properties for rent is often a priority. Materials are expensive, and things like tennis courts and chic boutiques may increase the curb appeal of your city, but they do not make you any money. Often times your goals will specify which types of houses you should build, but when the decision is yours you need to strike a balance between bigger houses (which need more materials and energy to build, but also accrue more rent), and smaller houses (which are inexpensive, but also won’t pull in a lot of money).
As noted above, your goals will often be about building specific types of houses, or painting and landscaping a number of houses, etc. But your goals will also have you building things like workshops and swimming pools, raising your rental income, amassing a set amount of cash, and improving the appeal of your city. The appeal is one of the hardest goals to reach, because things like power plants or garden centers will lower the appeal, both to the city and the houses near to it. Again, it’s a tough balance between building recreation centers and painting homes to increase the appeal, while still making sure you have enough rent to make bank.
All of that is pretty standard time management stuff, so what’s the new hook in Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source? As the implies, it’s power. It’s not of the evil genius, MWAHAHA! variety (sorry, I can see where that would be awesome). You need to provide power for all the buildings you are irresponsibly throwing up all over the place. You have a meter at the top of the screen that shows the relation between the power you are currently using, and the amount you have to use. If you step over the threshold, your entire city will experience a blackout (and you won’t get any rent for the duration). If you haven’t timed this just right, this can be catastrophic, as you won’t be able to buy enough materials to build a power plant if you can’t collect rent.
Unfortunately, those power plants – whether they be wind farms, solar power, nuclear – are a major drain on a neighborhood’s appeal. They are also quite expensive to build, as they require a lot of materials. Fortunately, Build-A-Lot 4 does give you a way to cut down on power usage. In addition to the three stars upgrading found in previous games, you can upgrade your houses up to three lightbulbs as well. The lightbulbs symbolize energy efficiency, and having more lightbulbs means you use a lot less power. Of course, some levels will require you to build power plants, even multiple ones at times, and so even the power aspect will require you to make up quick strategy as to when you should and shouldn’t go green.
Build-A-Lot 4: Power Source is a frantic game of time management and strategy that will have you furiously tapping your way to energy efficiency. The added task of securing energy for your buildings really adds a lot more strategy to your gameplay, but in a fun way. It has a ton of levels to play, and your choice of various modes as well, meaning you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.