Whether you’re running a hospital, mining for minerals on Mars, or even developing indie games within an indie game, business simulations all share an important objective, and that’s to make as much dosh as possible. Enter AkriGames with an oddly-specific premise: your key to riches is to sell mangos, either legally or by using numerous underhanded tactics. Mango Cart is, beyond the surface, a lot more serious than its premise may imply, and while it might appease your thirst for turn-based sims, it won’t be for too long.
First off, you need to sign up to one of four banks, some of which offer special services like the ability to take out loans or dodge taxes. You can change your bank at the start of each year, if you wish. Once you skip ahead a few months, then it’s time to buy fruit from farms. Once the fruit’s been grown and collected, they can be shipped sold to the shops. At the end of the year, you’ll be given a run-down of how much you’ve earned. There’s no in-game tutorial, but the learning curve is not too steep, and you’ll come to grips with the basics within the first hour or so. It has a ‘pick up and play’ vibe to it, meaning it’s easy to get in the swing of things (and to lose everything).
You can pull off all sorts of tricks to keep your company going. Want to sabotage the competition? Damage their reputation or stock. Think you can earn some extra cash from sales? Choose variable prices, where you could earn (or lose) more cash depending on demand. Feel like the tax rates are too high? Donate to a more generous political party to get them in power (then again this seldom works). There are plenty of options on offer here, and numerous stat sheets will keep you updated regarding the economical situation, though some factors like crime statistics are a bit unspecific in how they’ll affect your mango sales (something that the aforementioned-missing tutorial should’ve explained).
Not everything is within your control as random events are sometimes tossed at you, complicating things further. Courts may suddenly accuse you of criminal acts, whether you’re innocent or not. Bad weather could make you lose fruit, and a temporary oil crisis might just increase shipping costs drastically. Losing all your cash or getting arrested will end the game, but so can an abrupt political revolution. The difference is that the first two feel more like they were a result of your own actions, while the latter feels cheap and almost unavoidable. All you get is a single warning message sometime before it happens, if that. As a result, your games could end up lasting no longer than 30 minutes if you’re not careful, which makes getting fully invested in a long-lasting game of Mango Cart a bit tricky.
A few other nitpicks include a lack of music and sound effects, as well as the fact that the game won’t tell you if you can’t perform certain actions. Sure, it’ll make you aware if you can’t go forward by a month, but why can’t it remind you that you’re not eligible to take a loan out just yet? Arguably the biggest problem is that while you can save and load your game, you can’t load back if you hit a game over, meaning you’ve got no choice but to restart. Very silly.
Mango Cart is sickly-sweet. While there are plenty of ways to influence the mango trade and keep your company afloat, not to mention numerous challenging scenarios that are thrown into the mix to make the game feel more tense and challenging, the gameplay gets a bit stale and repetitive quickly due to its strict, rinse-and-repeat formula (where orders and shipments must be made at very specific points in time). A lack of instructions or music damper the quality, too. Anyone new to turn-based business simulations might get a quick kick out of this humble title, flaws aside, but otherwise it’s a bit difficult to recommend if longevity and depth is what you’re after.
Mango Cart is available on Steam. View the game here.