If being unique is worth its weight in gold then that makes Outpost Kaloki X the richest intergalactic lemonade stand simulator this side of Mars. One shouldn't expect any less of the only tycoon-type videogame currently on Xbox Live Arcade. In a crowd of shooters, puzzlers, and classic arcade games OKX is a breath of fresh air. But can this type of game work on the Xbox 360?
Like all the games in the management-sim genre the goal of players in Outpost Kaloki X to make customers happy. This is done by meeting needs, keeping facilities clean, and constantly upgrading services. That sounds a lot like my day job, and who wants to go from their job to another "job?" I guess me.
Thankfully, aliens appear to be far less demanding than people are. Certainly in real life I could never get away with turning off the power while people were in my deli eating. Sadly, turning off power to a trading port doesn't result in screaming aliens floating into the vacuum of space. Something for the sequel?
Something that jumped out at me and never let me go was the feeling that the user interface was designed for a higher resolution than your average gamer plays in. While clean and never dull, the interface comes across as clunky and bloated on a standard definition TV. At times it felt like I was fighting just to get through the interface and see what was going on at my space station.
Oh, and what a space station it was. I installed power generators, tweaked my lemonade stand, and upgraded my science services without even batting an eye. So don't take my complaints about the look of OKX to mean the game plays clunky. I love that the game always lets you know exactly what you need to build or upgrade before you can move to the next level.
Sadly a bug prevents players from earning perfect gold medals on all the single player missions, but I can forgive the developers because of the massive post-release support they've showered on their game. There are now several free mini-expansions and scenarios available to download on XBL. This is how things should always be.
If you love tweaking lemonade quality, balancing power use, managing expansion development, listening to a jazzy soundtrack and don't mind if your customers have five eyes than this is your game. Just remember to leave your preconceptions of what Xbox Live Arcade games can be at the door.