Day 181: Party Boat

Posted: 2011/05/09 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #181, and today’s game is “Party Boat”.

Party Boat is a game that, for me, was hampered by the limitations of the 8 minute trial period. I’ve played it off and on over the years, but never been able to get past the trial period. Having read accolades for it from other reviewers, I finally decided to make a leap of faith and plunk down my 400 Microsoft Points, and I’m glad I did. This is a game with a lot of atmosphere, humour, and more depth than is immediately apparent.

First, from the developer (The Industry):

“Partyboat is a party on a boat! In this comedic sandbox simulator take on the persona of The Skipper – a retired, amoral divorcé who must sail, manage, design, gamble, steal, hire, fire, and event-coordinate the way from his sailboat to a cruise ship. It is presented as a unique blend of 2D animation, 3D renders, live action, lots of hilarious dialogue, and over 80 minutes of music!”

Party Boat casts you in the role of trying to coordinate a rags to riches story, despite financial pitfalls and a daughter who’s on your case. Your event planning skills will be put to the test as you try to create the right parties at the right time for the right people to establish word-of-mouth amongst the sea-going equivalent of the jet-setters. You can stick to the wholesome side, or go the other direction with prostitution, strip clubs, and key parties. More eyebrow raising are game elements that push the boundaries of legality (smuggling) and morality (knife fights and cock fights down below), but you always have the opportunity to do these things or not so you will never feel that your ethics are being compromised. Music conspicuously like the Love Boat theme song can be heard at time, amongst the many comedic and ironic references contained in this game.

The plethora of options comes at a cost: this is not a game that you’ll be up and running with in 8 minutes. You’ll get to hear some of the nearly 1.5 hours of music in the game, and you’ll get to appreciate some of the nice animated touches such as the silhouetted people walking through the ship, but you’ll spend most of your time during the free trial trying to get a handle on the game’s embarrassment of riches rather than savouring the game’s humour and exploring business and marketing opportunities on the high seas.

But once you’re past that, the game is full of humour and so many options that it’ll never play out the same way twice. Those who played Railroad Tycoon or SimTower will find a lot to like here, and it’s highly recommended for anyone who’s enjoyed a game like that in the past.

Click here to download “Party Boat”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.

Know someone else who would want to read the review, or rate the game? “Share This” and invite them to.

  1. I’ve played the trial a couple of times and I srill don’t have a clue what I’m meant to be doing. There are lots of numbers and symbols, but none of them are explained. This game desperately needs a tutorial or at least a manual.

    • Ah, my mistake. I was labouring under the illusion that ‘demo captain’ would be the introductory mode, but actually it’s the least introductory one. ‘New captain’ has a bit more tutorial stuff. It’s still pretty dense and complicated, but at least offers some hope for learning the game.

      Anyway, I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that XBLIG has such a detailed resource management game.

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