Spring Break Preview

We hit the beach with this upcoming management game. Get all the details on Spring Break here.

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Spring Break
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Some of the biggest and most famous parties of each year include Mardi Gras in New Orleans and New Year's Eve celebrations around the world. But the perennial favorite of unruly college students is spring break--the wonderful week before Easter Sunday and after exams, during which everyone goes wild. And developer Deep Red, creator of Risk II and Monopoly Tycoon, figured that this magical holiday would make for a great management game. Spring Break (also known as Beach Life in Europe) iswill be a game that will let you run a vacation resort for boatloads of guests whothat are looking to relax, unwind, and do a little partying.

Which way to the beach?
Which way to the beach?

Judging from what we've seen of the game so far, Spring Break will try to make this festive atmosphere come alive with bright colors and spirited music. Spring Break is already shaping up to be a very colorful game with full day-and-night cycles, so your resort will be sunny during the day and appropriately dark at night--but alight with the sights and sounds of your resort's nightlife. We've already been able to sample some of the game's soundtrack, which consists of the kind of upbeat rock and techno music you'd expect to hear on stage at a beach party, or on the dance floor of a nightclub.

Spring Break's interface will look a lot like the one used in The Sims, and will look similar to a lot of other management games, too. You'll control most of what happens in the game using a set of buttons, menus, and meters at the bottom of the screen that will let you build new buildings, monitor your guests' happiness, and adjust all the prices of your goods and services. You'll also be able to click on any of your resort's businesses for a quick rundown on how successful they've been, and whether or not the prices on your goods and services are too high. Spring Break will also have a mini-map that will let you quickly jump back and forth across your resort, as well as a few handy additional options, like the ability to snap your camera onto a single guest. This is an especially good idea if you've got unhappy guests, which will be indicated on screen bywith a "thumbs down" icon over their heads.

Keep your guests happy by fulfilling their needs.
Keep your guests happy by fulfilling their needs.

You'll be able to keep track of your guests' general happiness level with the help of a SimCity-style event ticker that will alert you when certain guests are particularly unhappy, and it will suggest why. For instance, some guests on the beach may get a hankering for ice cream, so you'll receive a hint from the ticker to build an ice cream stand there. And every so often, guests will arrive on a new boat to pitch their blankets on the sand, buy sodas and ice cream from your concessions stands, or cut a rug in your nightclubs. Guests will have varying needs, including hunger, thirst, and the need to take a trip to the bathroom, and they'll even have a "flirt" value, which represents how likely they are to find a compatible partner on the beach, either in the form of another like-minded guest, or a stunning lifeguard.

Party All the Time

This lifeguard will save your drowning guests, and look good doing it.
This lifeguard will save your drowning guests, and look good doing it.

You'll need to hire a varied staff to maintain your resort--getting lifeguards to save your guests from drowning is just the start. For instance, you'll need to make sure you hire a cleaning crew to take care of your guests' garbage. You'll also need to hire security guards for those guests whothat spend just a little too much time at the bar and start getting just a little too rowdy for your other guests' comfort. You'll need mechanics to maintain your resort and keep it running, and you'll need builders to add all of the new buildings that your guests will clamor for. Naturally, all that hired help doesn't come for free--the most shrewd managers will be the ones whothat can balance their profits against their staff salaries and all those buildings you'll be adding to your resort.

Spring Break will have about 60 different buildings and structures that you can build for your resort. These can be as simple as bars, restrooms, and supermarkets to purchase suntan lotion, but you'll also be able to build additional wings onto your hotel for more guests, and you can even build an open-air stage for concerts and shows. Depending on your current scenario's objectives, you may have to earn a certain amount of money, or expand your resort to a certain extent to succeed. To do this, you'll want to have your builders and mechanics on call to build new buildings and service existing structures so that they don't break down--this is especially important in the case of electric generators, which you'll need to build to power your hotel's expansions.

They love the nightlife. They love to boogie.
They love the nightlife. They love to boogie.

Fortunately, you won't always be forced to build specific structures in the same boring order. Spring Break will let you build "fun" structures too, like taverns and Olympic-sized swimming pools, depending on your budget and the amount of open real estate available to you. If you build too many things too close together without separating your buildings with roads and paths, your guests will become frustrated that they can't pass through. This will be much less of a problem in Spring Break's freeform sandbox mode, which will let you choose from several different islands (which will have different shapes, sizes, and climates), then start dropping in hotels and shops as you see fit.

Strangely enough, this game that celebrates the joys of fun in the sun will be out long after summer is over. However, Spring Break already looks like a very solid management strategy game, and with any luck, it'll make reliving those days on the beach as fun as ever when it's released this fall.

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