Obscure Gaming – Metropolismania

Box art for the North American Release (Metropolismania) and European Release (Metropolismania 2). Note that both games release in Japan, North America, and Europe.

Even though this category is reserved for single title releases, this post will cover two games under this franchises title. Though there was a third release, it was a Japan exclusive and I don’t have any hands-on experience with this title to say much more about it. On that note, let’s get into talking about this little known title for the Playstation 2.

Image showing gameplay of the first Metropolismania. The blue tile beneath the player corresponds to where they want to place the building that corresponds to the flip book you see on the left.

Metropolismania, which is the first game of this lineup, is a city building strategy game. Think of SimCity, but with more interaction between the player and NPCs. The plot of the game follows you starting your career as a city builder and your job revolves around creating cities that grow to certain populations, or other requirements to make the city a success, such as having a percentage of the populations and buildings focused on agriculture, business, etc. Playing the game allows you to walk around and explore the town you create, as well as, talk with other NPCs, buy things from stores/restaurants, and some random events that occur in each town. The interaction system in this game is vital as increasing your friendship with others allows the player to find out more information on new citizens and can help you solve complaints. As I just mentioned, the further you develop your town, the greater the chances are that you will receive complaints from the townspeople. Complaints range from not having enough roads, being too far from certain establishments, or too much noise in certain areas to name a few. The player needs to be able to solve these complaints otherwise people will start to move away from your city. The first game has an approval meter that shows how well you are running the town and if it gets to a certain percentage, you will begin to receive an influx of calls from people or businesses that want to move there. I thought that this game was pretty fun while I played through, but I did find that it had a limited amount of business types, NPC personalities, and ways to customize your player. However, these problems were solved with the release of the sequel years after.

Gameplay from Metropolismania 2, take note of the different to character and building design. The colors on the left serve a similar function to the flip book that we saw in the image above with colors representing building types.

Meteropolismania 2 revolves around a similar plot and game play structure with some notable differences. One of the biggest changes to the game is the art design and style of characters/environments. While the original had more overly exaggerated cartoon designs for characters, the sequel tones this down to fit more of an anime quality. This version still has an approval meter, but it won’t give you an surge of calls like the original. Instead the purpose of it now serves as more of an rating that your boss gives you and helps to determine if you get a raise or not. The other thing to note is that this game features real world establishments, such as MOS Burger, Yoshinoya, and maid cafes, all of which are very popular in Japan. I would have to say that I prefer this game over the original, but major media outlets panned this game in favor of the original. Either way you stretch it, these games are actually lots of fun to play. The strategic elements gives a challenge for players, while also giving them the opportunity to customize their avatar to fit their personality. The variety in NPC occupations, interactions, and traits makes it feel fresh, no two gameplays are going to be alike. I spend lots of time playing this myself and watching my sister, who was much better than me at building these cities.

Side-by-side of Metropolismania (Left) and Metropolismania 2 (Right) to show difference in GUI, character design, and art style.

Overall, I think that people were too quick to judge this game and that it can just be fun without being like other city building games. I would say if you ever run across a copy of this game, don’t hesitate to buy it. You will have lots of fun building a city and holding lively conversation with your virtual citizens.

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