Build-a-lot

Game review by
Erin Bell, Common Sense Media
Build-a-lot Game Poster Image
Accessible building sim both challenging and fun.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about fiscal responsibility and money as they manage a budget and decide how much to spend on building materials and upgrades while generating rental income. Kids follow directions to fulfill the goals presented at the beginning of each level. They are pushed to complete goals in a certain amount of time, which encourages time management and handling stress. Kids can replay levels as often as they like, allowing them to test out different strategies. Kids learn about money and property management while playing Build-a-lot, a fun simulation game that encourages experimentation.

Positive Messages

Players work towards positive goals by cooperating with local community leaders to create functional and aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods for citizens to live in.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players interact with mayors and other community leaders, who are upbeat and enthusiastic about new development in their towns.

Ease of Play

Build-a-lot is a challenging game, but boasts an excellent tutorial and manageable learning curve that introduces new concepts gradually so that players won't feel overwhelmed.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a pure building sim and lacks some of the "playing God" features of the SimCity and The Sims games. (For example, here you can't destroy your town with natural disasters or force its inhabitants to become unhappy.) Children will learn about managing cash flow, resources, buying and selling in a way that is challenging but not too complex or overwhelming.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written bytimothyjr January 22, 2009
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

What's it about?

Many people might find the world of real estate intimidating, but BUILD-A-LOT makes it seem easy. With a few clicks of the mouse, players will be building, buying, renovating, and selling properties in no time and having a blast doing it.

Players can construct a variety of buildings on vacant lots, from modest one-level ramblers to ostentatious estates, as well as structures like banks, sawmills, museums, and skating rinks. To do so, you'll need the required blueprints, enough workers to do the job, and building materials, all of which cost money. The mayor of each of the eight towns in the game gives players a specific set of goals to complete, like building four Tudor-style homes, earning a rental income of $60,000 per month, or earning a $250,000 cash total. To increase a house's value, it can be upgraded with amenities like hardwood floors, indoor tennis courts, and a wireless intercom system. An upgraded house will yield more rent per month and can also be sold at a higher profit. But beware of property taxes and repairs, which will sap up money and materials. There's also a Casual mode where the goal is to raise a certain amount of money in as short a time as possible.

Is it any good?

The nice thing about Build-a-lot is that players don't have to know a lot about real estate or be skilled number-crunchers, to succeed and have fun. There's a wonderful tutorial, and the game's pacing is just right in terms of introducing new challenges and concepts in a manageable way. Each town presents unique challenges that keep the game fresh until the end. One mayor, for example, is partial to Tudor-style homes, while another wants to attract wealthy retirees by building estates on premium lakefront land. For such a potentially dry subject, Build-a-lot manages to deliver a game that is extremely accessible, as well as challenging.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what strategies they developed for doing well at the game, and how they had to adapt these strategies to meet different goals. For example, what did you do differently to achieve a high rental income verses building up a large total sum of cash? Do you enjoy simply being able to build structures, or would you prefer a mixture of resource gathering and combat as offered by real-time strategy games like Warcraft and Age of Empires?

Game details

For kids who love simulations and time management

Our editors recommend

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