Build-a-lot in Review – Be a Real Estate Mogul

buildalot1Have you ever seen “Flip This House” and those Makeover home shows? If you have enjoyed those shows, enjoy strategy, time management and even tycoon games, then Build-a-lot is for you! Build-a-lot, was the #1 casual strategy mobile game that let users build, buy, sell, and rent real estate with one essential goal, to become a real estate mogul.

Build-a Lot was originally created for online play by HipSoft, which is now partnered with popular developers Glu. The game was one of 2007’s most critically and commercially successful online casual games according to Jill Braff, senior vice president of Glu. Millions enjoyed Build-a-Lot online and I think quite a lot will enjoy it on the iDevice as well.

Let’s down to business and see if the iPhone/iPod Touch version is just as fun. Your objective in Build-a-Lot is to master the housing market. You build and sell houses either to make a nice sum of cash or collect rental money. Not only are you managing mere homes in Build-a-Lot, but you also will be handling cinemas, fire stations and ice rinks.

The game starts off with a very detailed screen of a neighborhood complete with homes and different homes being built. I realized that the flowers and foliage on the ground actually moves in the picture along with butterflies flittering around! Subtle animation is very nicely done. They could have gone with a static screen with no animation but they chose this one and it was a wise choice indeed. You have a choice of Career mode, where you can tackle the real estate business and Casual mode, which is a sandbox type of play where you have no time limits and are free to build/sell whatever you like. Casual mode is only unlocked after you complete the Meadow Dale neighborhood Tutorial which you find when you tap the Career button.

buildalot2There are 3 levels in the tutorial. You are greeted by Mayor Russell who shows you all the basics of starting out from the ground level up in building and getting homes constructed. The instructions she gives you are very simple, easy to follow especially because an arrow points to where you have to tap on the screen. Look closely at Mayor Russell, and you will her blinking ever so often. This attention to detail is a big part of Build-a-Lot and impresses me a lot.

Your main screen in Build-a-lot consists of 4 different colored tabs.

  • Money & Goals (Green) – Cash total & what goals are to be done
  • Workers (Yellow) – Total of workers you have if any
  • Materials (Red) – The number of Construction Material you have
  • Blueprints owned (Blue) – Total amount owned

The Money & Goals tab tells you if you are collecting rent and also tells you your current objective, so if you forget what you are supposed to be doing, simply click on this green tab. The Workers tab let’s you see how many workers your current cash flow will allow you to have. Blueprints tab is self explanatory if you want to see how many Blueprints you have acquired.

buildalot5To build homes, you simply click on an empty lot and you will see the construct house screen at the bottom which tells you the lot value and what type of home you can currently build. The very first home you can build is a Rambler house. Once you pick the type of home, you will see at the bottom left, details about the income if you rent the home and the value if you flip the house and sell it.

The second part of the tutorial teaches you how to increase your rental income by buying and upgrading homes. Not everyone wants a plain home; some folks want fancy hardware floors, a beautiful kitchen and bathroom. These upgrades lead to more rental cash; giving you the right to charge higher prices on homes you sell which equals your climb that much further to being King or Queen of Real Estate.

If you think that’s all there is to the game, you will be nicely surprised by things like homes breaking down. They will need repair when you least expect it, like electrical wire failure or a plumbing job needed so that all costs money. You will have to use strategy wisely in order to make MORE money instead of losing money with each home you rent or sell.

buildalot6Once you finish the tutorial you go on to regular career mode. You will see neighborhoods you can choose and darkened ones that you haven’t done yet. Each neighborhood has a few levels and different achievements. Each Mayor of that town will ask you to accomplish different goals. You will not have all the time in the world to do it either so watch the time count down on the top of your iDevice screen. I didn’t feel any pressure though and it was a real pleasure to go about reaching the goal of each level.

The controls for Build-a-lot are very well done, the tabs some players might find a bit small but with my small fingers, I didn’t find this the case. If you have sausage fingers, it might be a bit annoying but I wouldn’t worry about it. The tabs are responsive as you would expect them to be as you tap on each one. There is nothing hard about learning each step and the tutorial does a great job in training everyone. Simple and efficient game controls for Build-a-Lot indeed.

The sounds were just right in my opinion and the music was pleasant and not at all annoying. The screen is colorful and it’s not hard to read the text which is sometimes a problem with pc ports. Although it seems like it could be hard, you will find out that Build-a-lot is very balanced and not a chore to play at all.

The graphics are a delight! I love how detailed the homes are! You can see the windows, what type of home it is, again, I love the subtle animation of the wind blowing the flowers, the animated construction of the home and the Mayors themselves that I mentioned earlier that actually blink. These touches bring Build-a-lot to life!

buildalot8What I really like about Build-a-Lot is that it’s not super complicated, you are trained well and you are able to jump into the real estate business literally right away after training. It becomes second nature and really flows. I also like how you have 6 different homes instead of just one. You have more than 8 neighborhoods instead of just one and over 35 levels. I think it’s very cool that you can build a movie theatre and not just stay with homes. The game gives you variety which is a very good thing in this type of management and tycoon game.

There is not much that I didn’t like about Build-a-Lot, except it would have been nice to have bigger tabs on the main screen but I can understand why it was done that way because there is only so much you can have on the screen at one time.

Build-a-lot is a unique game, I found it delightful in that you have to use strategy, common sense and take risks as well to climb the ladder to Real Estate Success. If you like Tycoon games, business sims or time management games, I highly recommend Build-a-Lot to you. I recommend this to any gamer who is adventurous and wants a quality game. I’m giving this a Kiss it Rating because it’s an A+ game and it’s fun to get away from reality for awhile and try to be a Real Estate Mogul!


App Summary
Title: Build-a-lot (v1.0.0) Developer: Glu
Price: $4.99 App Size: 15.0 MB
  • Fun to play
  • Unique and challenging game play
  • Graphics actually enhance the game
  • Very well balanced game
  • Not overwhelming or overly hard
  • Tabs could be a bit bigger


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