• Run That Town - Do it, do it now!

    Every now and then, an app in the iTunes App Store makes you stop dead in your tracks because itís just so amazingly quirky and completely absurd that you just have to take notice. Sometimes itís the graphics, the concept or even something as simple as the name will make you do a double take. Very rarely is it the developer. Enter: Run That Town, by none other than the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

    Iím sure youíve all used the ABS at some point, whether it was in high school for some assignment or just to a prove a point to a mate. Point is, the ABS is pretty standard fare. Their website looks like itís still stuck in the 90s. Not so their beautifully crafted, ingeniously thought out and super cute game.

    Right off the bat, the game will ensnare you with its charm (not a word I use often - read ever - when describing anything ABS related), both visual and typed. The animated opening is fun and the graphics are clean cut and simple. Millipede have done really well here as the game looks polished and gorgeous.

    The copy takes this game to a whole other level. Witty, self deprecating and holy cow are the puns world class. One of the writers for the game is on Twitter - follow her, you wonít regret it. The little disclaimer on the loading page is hilarious, especially when you think of where itís coming from: a government agency! You canít read it in the first image, but it goes:

    ďWarning: This game has been made for fun, and while it contains genuine Census data from your postal area, it also contains traces of comedy, complete generalisations and some very dodgy puns, which weíd like to apologise for now. Any semblance to any real persons, situations, events, businesses or organisations is completely unintentional. Apart from the Census data, which is the real deal. Ok? Good.Ē

    I adore the writing on this project. Iím pretty lame, I will admit, so I am not ashamed at all to say I laughed out loud at a few of the newspaper headlines and articles. Iíve collected a few of the best ones above. I absolutely love the line (which you might not be able to read) ďThere are more than 30 websites on the Internet and they showed us all of themĒ. But I am getting ahead of myself here a little. First off, letís talk about the gameplay.

    The idea of the game revolves around the mayoral desk. Proposals will come across it every month (you can slow down or speed up the game depending on your reading speed and personal preference) which you have to approve or reject. Simple, but various factors come into play. You can determine if your populace will like a project by Ďinterviewingí one from each side of the fence. Youíll gain insights into why/why not they want/donít want the project to go ahead and the demographics to which they belong.

    And thatís where the Census data comes into play. In my case, Marrickville is a median in the income and population density game, but has high motorist levels and a large older population. See, I learnt something from this game! Educational value aside, you have to approve/reject proposals based on what is best for the majority of your town. Eg. My town really loves beer for some reason, so they got pissed off when I rejected adding a truck service to the local brewery. I have a lot of singles in the area though *wink* so they loved me adding a singles night event to the local pub (disturbing alcoholism trend here Ö hmmm).

    Nearly every time a new proposal is built, the local newspaper, The Daily Spotlight, will report on it. Sometimes if the project approval is split evenly itíll go unnoticed. largely though, the paper will report on your every move and let you know if it hurt or helped your overall approval score (the percentage next to the smiley face up top). There are other little things that go into the game, like social clout and funds dictating what you can and canít build, events you can hold at your buildings and add-ons or upgrades you can make. Some buildings will require a lot of maintenance each month which will drain your funds. Some your locals will hate and you can destroy them to save up your cityís money.

    Also, achievements. There are tons. Really, loads of them. Youíll have to play through quite a few times to get all of them , which is great news for achievement hunters. For everyone else, theyíre nice and kinda cute too (theyíre names match the humour in the rest of the game) but can easily be ignored as they run through Gamecenter.

    Youíve also got a few sharing options with Twitter and Facebook. You can share every article about you and your overall approval score.

    The only thing that I can think of to better this game is the inclusion of an overall city view - as it stands you have to slide back and forth to view each project individually which can get annoying. I think if there was an overhead view, itíd be much easier to navigate and would also look really cool. It needn't look like the real town (Marrickville doesnít really have a concert hall, a fun park or an airport), but just the one I made in the game. The mechanics there would probably require a huge investment to generate and Iím not too sure about logistics, but itís something Iíd like to see.

    Other than that, perfect game is perfect. And itís narrated by Shaun Micallef. Download it now.

    Donít forget, meat raffles are on Thursdays.

    Kelly Vieira, while easily amused, is a discerning writer for Finder.com.au. She loves playing, reviewing and writing about neat apps, like this one, and wonít shut up about the really great ones she finds (really, itís a problem). Follow her on twitter here.
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