Okay, let me start this review with one quick piece of advice. If you are like me, and have always dreamed of starting your own game design company, dreamed of becoming the next Will Wright, or creating the next great DOS or NES game, then stop reading and download this game. You will be VERY pleased.
Now, if your still reading, let's get down into the review.
I had previously played the original GameBiz. While it was a good game, it was filled with bugs, and the interface was a bit shallow. But none of these problems exist in GameBiz 2. I almost feel as if I'm playing a real commercial-quality game. The music is good, the interface is pretty easy, and you can learn it pretty quickly.
Basically, you start the game choosing your name, and your company name. You then choose how much money you will start with, if you want to have a board check your decisions, and the overall difficulty level. The menu will give a full explanation for each option, so you can make the game as easy or hard as you want. Once in the game, you'll find that you start in week 1 of the year 1980, and you are given a large area of land, with your headquarters in the middle. The menu is pretty simple, you can develop hire team members, build factories, etc.
Making a game is a two part process. First you develop the engine for the current market game consoles. Then once the engine is done, you can design the game. You can also make sequel games, and the old fan base who bought your original game, are likely to buy the sequel. You can also develop a console as well. But this is the most challenging, and at some point, most frustrating part of the game, since you can only hire a certain amount of team members, depending on your leader's points. Employee's have rankings like 10 points for leadership, 5 for game design, etc. But some employees won't work for you if your company is small. Where the real pain of developing hardware comes, is when you are constantly being asked if you want to enhance your hardware, since new consoles are being released, and developing your own takes time. So you can either risk the development time, or release an outdated product. But I would highly suggest developing games, and not hardware. It is too risky, and very hard to develop a perfect platform, and even then, you are at the mercy of the game's algorithm (how many units you sell).
GameBiz 2 is also one of the most challenging games. In fact, the only way for me to actually make it to the final game year of 2006, was by using cheats to get more money. These cheats are entered through a Amiga themed console. It's as if the game's developer wants you to discover the cheats. For example, typing Will Wright into the console brings up sentences like "Wasn't he a great developer?".
But GameBiz 2 accomplishes something most games don't - that feeling of "Wow, it's my own company". You start to look forward to the virtual E3 events, to see if your game won an award. You start to enjoy reading the virtual newspaper about the latest releases. But at the same time, it's a wonderful throwback to classic times of gaming. Seeing Packman, and SimCity popup during the E3 event makes me smile, and watching DOS beat the NES in one game, and the Gameboy beat the Nintendo 64 in another, makes the replay value high. You never know which system will come out on top. You develop an engine for a specific system, and hope for the best. You should note however, that due to copyrights, the names of games are scrambled. But you can still recognize them. Like instead of Castlevania, it comes up as Kastelvnia. It's a minor hindrance, but not much.
Overall, this game is amazing. Great gameplay, terrific replayability, and a great throwback to the retro years. My only wish, is that you could continue the game past 2006. However, this game is modable. In fact, many mods are available, including some that extend gameplay. So stop reading and download this game. Some of us might be a little overwhelmed at first, so I suggest starting on the easiest level, make an engine, and then a game. Then start a new, more serious game. And, I highly suggest using cheats if you want to get the "Nintendo" and "Sony" feeling of being a big company. But for the people who want a challenge, jump in, and attempt to become the next great game designer. You won't regret it.
Review by: Nick