Overlooked games often provide a surprising amount of fun and this is the case with the Pipe Mania style puzzler City Builder.
Years ago, I loved digging through bargain bins of Wii games to see what kind of goofy gems I could find. What am I talking about? I still love doing that! Anyway, I came across City Builder one day and I was hooked as soon as I started playing it. Years later, I compiled my Top 10 Fun Wii Games That Look Like Shovelware list and of course, City Builder is on there and now, it's finally available for Switch.
So, just what the heck is City Builder and why do I love it so much? Well, it's a puzzle game where you're dealt a hand of tiles that represent roads, pipes, or electricity lines depending on which phase you're presently in for the current stage. By tapping a button, you can replace your tiles with new ones although you're never sure just what you'll get. Thankfully, you can lock certain tiles down so they don't get swapped. The point of each stage is to build a city by first paving the road from the start to finish then connecting underground pipes and finally, placing electrical wires above the city. Each phase has different beginning and end points and the more the layers overlap, the better you'll do in that stage. Therein lies the challenge and let me tell you, it can be a lot of fun.
City Builder features some pretty cool gameplay mechanics that slowly get introduced such as different tools which may let you blow up rocks, bonus stages where you try and collect presents while building a central blueprint, and an overworld map containing each city that you must build in order to unlock the next continent. Considering there are 100 cities, you're looking at one lengthy campaign.
City Builder definitely doesn't look like much with its generic isometric visuals but its soft colours and goofily animated car are quite appealing. The music is very unconventional and fun in that it's full of swinging jazzy melodies that'll make you tap your toes as you play. Plus, the sound effects are silly and satisfying and it all adds up to a delightful game that only jaded gamers would be turned off by.
Unfortunately, this Switch version of City Builder is rough around the edges and contains some odd glitches. First of all, screen transitions make it look like the whole game is falling apart whenever it loads. Next, the total numbers of required city types that you need per continent are always red even after you fulfill them which is kind of weird. However, the worst bug is that the entire game crashes from time to time. I found that it always did whenever I used explosives back to back which is as annoying as it is inconvenient.
Last but not least, I wish City Builder had more modes besides the single player campaign where you just try and master each city with as high of a score as possible. Heck, there aren't even any online leaderboards so who cares about your score anyway? Speaking of lack of variety, the stages mostly look the same which makes the graphics get tiresome after playing for only an hour or so.
Those who enjoy quirky fun puzzle games will surely appreciate what City Builder has to offer. It may not be the most polished puzzler ever made but what's here is still a fantastic blend of Pipe Mania gameplay and city construction.
- + Addictive tile-based gameplay that rewards careful planning and quick thinking
- + Plenty of stages to work through
- + Appealing graphics and fun music
- - Generally rough around the edges and you may experience a few crashes
- - Environments get rather stale
- - Could use additional modes