Casino Mogul Review

Its good premise is almost enough to outweigh its frustrating design flaws.

Casino Mogul might just give you a migraine. It has some significant problems, not the least of which is its monotonous and grating soundtrack. The game draws a great deal of inspiration from RollerCoaster Tycoon (and by default from Theme Park), and it lets you manage a casino from carpets to craps. It's yet another game trying to jump on the "tycoon" bandwagon, though it features a good premise that is almost enough to outweigh its frustrating design flaws.

Teach them how to give you their money.
Teach them how to give you their money.

You start simple. At the beginning, all you have is a big empty room. You can build slot machines and a cashier's booth. Other games and attractions have prerequisites. To build a bar, you need a janitor's closet. To build blackjack and Caribbean stud poker tables, you need a pit boss station. To build more-complex gaming tables, such as pai gow poker and craps, you need to offer gambling lessons. Later, you can add a hotel, gift shops, a sports book, and a keno room. Casino Mogul's pacing is just right in this respect--when your simple games start earning money, you'll have enough to move on to the bigger games. When those start earning money, you'll have enough to move on to the high-cost additions.

The pacing is not so good in other respects. Your casino can hold only a very limited number of patrons, and in order to raise the capacity you need to expand. However, there is a noticeable discrepancy in the amount of space you'll need to accommodate a profitable crowd and the amount of space you will actually need for slot machines and gaming tables. Good planning is punished in this respect, because you'll find yourself expanding simply so you can attract more visitors, and not because you need the space. This causes a problem with your janitors, who have to cover more ground and clean up the trash of guests who are often wandering around with nothing to do.

You'll encounter yet another problem if you decide to fill up the empty space with cheap slot machines and blackjack tables, just so you aren't staring at hundreds of square feet of gaudy carpet. Almost everything you build in your casino has a maintenance cost, and that cost is the same no matter how much it's used--a slot machine that's just sitting in a corner will cost as much to maintain as one that sees a good deal of action. Because of this, trying to plan a casino that's lively and full is not a viable option. Bankruptcy is always just around the corner, and the game offers no loans or assistance to help offset losses. So once you start losing money, it'll be gone in no time. Similarly, the objects in your casino will deteriorate at a constant rate, so building four identical slot machines at once will ensure that they'll all break down simultaneously.

Broken machines aren't the worst of your worries. In fact, the worst of your worries is people dying in your casino. The excitement gets to them, and they have heart attacks. Lots of heart attacks. To counteract this, you need to build first-aid stations. The medics at these stations will scurry over and try to help those in cardiac arrest, racing against the devil. Literally--the prince of darkness himself marches through the front door at the first sign of a heart attack, trying to beat your medics to the dying guest. It's a ridiculous sight, and one that would be funny if it didn't happen so often. A dead guest can't bet, and you'll likely lose money in the subsequent wrongful death lawsuit.

Your medics will sometimes race to the scene on their own. Often, they'll just stand around and you'll have to manually tell them to assist the ill. Most of your other workers will always act autonomously--janitors will walk around and sweep up the considerable mess, mechanics will fix broken machines and tables, and cocktail waitresses will take and deliver orders. Strangely, security guards don't ever seem to act on their own, and if a patron is robbed or a dealer catches someone cheating, you'll have to instruct your guards to arrest the culprit. It's both inconsistent and frustrating, as the game would have been much better off if you could have just watched your casino run itself.

Something that should be hands-on, but aren't, are the games. It seems strange that you can zoom in and watch anyone play blackjack or craps, but you can't play yourself. At least zooming in looks fairly good. The graphics are a bit blocky and dated, but you can zoom, rotate, and tilt the camera at will.

At least partially at will. The second worst thing about Casino Mogul is that it slows to a crawl with only a small number of guests. Once you get a few dozen people through the door, even a button click will take a fair number of tries to register. Trying to change the color of a slot machine in a busy casino is almost pointless. As is trying to lay down carpet or decorate the walls--there's no option for doing large-scale decorating, so you must do it one tiny section at a time.

Death comes quick and often in your casino.
Death comes quick and often in your casino.

The very worst thing is the soundtrack. The constant ringing of slot machines and the endlessly looping music are annoying at first, and they eventually become nauseating. You can't turn them off mid-game, so you'll want to make sure to do it when the opportunity presents itself at the outset. If nothing else, Casino Mogul may be a great simulation of actually working in a casino and all the headaches it probably entails.

That the game has such significant problems is a shame. The premise is great, and watching your patrons walk around, play your games, and complain about this and that makes for a fun time--a much simpler version of the amusement park simulation that obviously inspired it. But Casino Mogul forces you to tread a fine line, never allowing you to make too much money or build too much. If you're interested in the premise, you'll find some fun in building a huge, rather sparse, rapidly deteriorating casino. And if you're smart, you'll do it silently.

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Casino Mogul More Info

  • First Released Mar 17, 2002
    • PC
    Its good premise is almost enough to outweigh its frustrating design flaws.
    Average Rating8 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Cat Daddy Games
    Published by:
    DreamCatcher Interactive
    Management, Strategy
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    No Descriptors