TZ-Colony is one of the best M.U.L.E. clones I have ever seen. Originally released as shareware with a steep price tag of US$25 for the registered version, TZ-Colony does not credit M.U.L.E. anywhere in the game, but the "clone" status is unmistakable: everything from the name of the planet ("Irata") to the way different robots look, to gameplay mechanics will remind everyone of Dani Bunten's classic.
Your goal, as in M.U.L.E., is to colonize the planet Irata and try to become the richest man (or creature, as you can play as alien) on the planet. You compete against up to four players at the same time, any of which can be human-controlled. You can go the "straight path" by working hard to make your business grow, or make "fast money" by speculating in land or product auctions. There are four products in the game you can produce by using robots (high-tech "mules" in the game), and various terrain types are conducive to different products. And like M.U.L.E., TZ-Colony ingeniously and addictively brings free market mechanics to your computer screen, as one old review of M.U.L.E. says: "Prices are set by supply and demand. Economies of scale provide increased productivity for adjacent plots under a single commodity and owner. The Learning Curve Theory of production provides increased pro- ductivity over time. The law of diminishing returns eventually acts to mitigate these effects. The Prisoner's Dilemma penalizes excessive selfishness. The documentation describes how these effects work, and how to best harness them. If beginners or youngsters need a bit of a boost, they can choose the Flapper character and get more money and time. Expert players can choose the Humanoid character and have the handicaps of less money and less time. Playing the solitaire game as a Humanoid facing three computer opponents makes for a real challenge."
Both reflexes (especially during the auction process) and complex strategies are crucial to winning. If you love M.U.L.E. (and if you don't, stop now and go read my review elsewhere on the site :)), you will definitely love this graphical update that brings the same addiction to a whole new audience. Like the original classic, a joystick is highly recommended, especially for reflex-intensive portions.
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