Space Colony, like most builder games, is all about the art of creating your colony from the tools provided to suit the task at hand. Its woman protagonist, the spunky and capable Venus Jones, is tasked by the greedy Blackwater Corporation to complete missions that range from farming space chickens in order to cash in on the latest culinary fad, to rescuing VIPs from a planet overrun by hostile and evil aliens. As capable as Venus may be, she canâ€™t do all of this on her lonesome, so the corporation sends â€œhelpâ€ in the form of the other colonists, and wackiness ensues.
While you can place structures around your base within your budgetary means, nothing actually gets done unless someone is at the controls. Placing a mining station near a mineral deposit wonâ€™t do any good if you donâ€™t have someone skilled in operating mining equipment, not to mention someone manning the power station so the base has electricity and the oxygen station so everyone can breathe. Some colonists, like Venus, know how to do a wide array of things, while others are very good at just one or two. Some are just borderline useless, though facilities exist for teaching colonists new skills. Primary and secondary tasks can be assigned, and the AI is relatively smart about having people switch jobs according to what needs are pressing without requiring too much micromanagement, provided youâ€™ve allocated your talent appropriately.
So just sit everyone down at their workstations and everything rolls along perfectly, right? Not exactly. The second challenge is keeping your colonists happy. â€œBut I donâ€™t give a flying fig if theyâ€™re happy,â€ you say, â€œas long as they do their jobs.â€ Thereâ€™s the problem. Happy colonists work, unhappy colonists donâ€™t. A simple display for each colonist shows what portion of their time theyâ€™re working, what portion theyâ€™re slacking off or sitting around being grumpy, and why they are or arenâ€™t thrilled to be on your colony. One colonist, for example, might work with robot-like efficiency, but if you donâ€™t build him an observatory his productivity will be nil. Some colonists need human contact, others mostly want to be left alone. One might want a Jacuzzi, one might want a Stairmaster, and itâ€™s up to you to learn who wants what and get it for them, or suffer the consequences.
This is the clean split between people who will like Space Colony and those who won’t. If you donâ€™t like working, sometimes frantically, to make seven different virtual people happy so theyâ€™ll stop complaining long enough to do their jobs and thus fend off impending doom, this is not the game for you. The characters and their zany personality quirks are the heart of Space Colony, and if youâ€™d rather just have soulless drones that â€œYes, sir!â€ and â€œAye aye, sir!,â€ you should look elsewhere for entertainment.
If, however, you enjoy a little more flavor to your building games, there is a lot to like about Space Colony. The characters are mostly enjoyable, even the ones that are meant to be difficult are oddly charming in their annoyance, and the game maintains its humor level even when the infuriating corporate bigwig is pilling yet another objective on your head.
System Requirements: Pentium III 1 GHz, 128 MB RAM, Win95