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By WES PLATT, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 18, 2001


  • System: Windows
  • Maker: Poptop
  • Price: $39.99 It is good to be El Presidente.

    Tropico, the latest effort by Railroad Tycoon II's Phil Steinmeyer, has you ruling a Caribbean island nation. I think of it as a sort of SimCuba.

    You're given an island, minerals and agricultural property and a few dozen impoverished and undereducated citizens. From this, you must forge a thriving society, creating a mecca that combines tourism, industry and agriculture, and do whatever it takes to keep political enemies at bay.

    And all this tropical intrigue is underscored by a catchy Latin beat.

    Yes, the stereotypes are pretty shameful. Yes, it's rather despicable that your options include jailing or . . . um . . . eliminating (yeah, that's the politically correct way to put it) . . . foes through dictatorial edicts.

    But, the game is undeniably addictive and quite fun, and no one says you must use the darker edicts to accomplish your goals.

    Every few years, you'll face re-election. If you don't allow elections, you risk a coup. If you allow elections and rig the results in your favor, you risk a coup. And if you use those wicked edicts to get rid of your enemies, you risk a coup.

    So, there are tough consequences to go with extreme actions.

    As with SimCity, your goal is to keep the people happy while keeping your budget in the black. Make sure people have roads on which to walk, schools in which to learn, churches in which to worship and nightspots in which to revel.

    And what's a Caribbean banana republic without a bank or two to handle those lucrative offshore accounts?

    If the stereotypes don't bother you too much, Tropico should be an enjoyable strategy experience.

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