Game Review by Debbie Winkler
Series: a Build-a-Lot Game
# of Players: 1
Target Age Group: 8 and up
Average Game Play: 3 – 12 hours
Type of Game: Time Management
View Format: DVD
Help the Nutcracker Prince, the Big Bad Wolf, the Wicked Witch, the Frog Prince and other mayors beautify and build towns in this fun-filled time-management game. Work your way through swamps, forests and mountains to perfect the land of fairy tales! Build factories, a variety of houses and special buildings in each different landscape. You will need to work quickly and strategically to achieve the goals on each level and earn the blue ribbon on each level. Build-a-lot Fairy Tales will appeal to the whole family and provide hours of fun for everyone!
Build-a-lot Fairy Tales is the same as all of the other Build-a-Lot games, but the setting was really different. I haven’t played one of these games in a long time, but everything came back to me quickly when I started playing so I skipped the tutorial and dove right in. The creators of this game assume that you have played one of the other Build-a-Lot games before this so be prepared to pick things up as you go, regardless of whether you play the tutorial or not. The rules are not that complicated. Simply look at the list of achievements on each level and figure out the quickest and cheapest way to execute them and you will be an expert in no time! One of the tips that I have for those who have not played Build-a-Lot games previously is to click on your magic toadstool (your work center for all of your fairy workers) and spend $7,500 to speed up your fairies. This doubles their speed and helps you achieve your goals much more rapidly.
Goals on each level differ, but they usually include goals regarding houses, money and/or reputation. On the beginning levels, what you see is what you get. They will tell you all of the goals for the level and you just have to finish them. After you have played through the first several levels, they will start surprising you with an additional goal or two after you complete the initial list. It can be challenging to achieve the blue ribbon until you know what all of the goals are so don’t be afraid to restart a level after you get the complete list so you can plan ahead! There are several different types of houses including dens, cottages, manors, gingerbread houses, tree houses and towers. Each house requires a different combination of fairies or workers and materials to build. Dens are quick and easy to build, but they are also cheap housing and will not bring in a lot of rent. Towers require a lot of materials and workers, but they are worth a lot more money when you are renting them and/or selling them. Structures include a magic toadstool, a witch cauldron and a dwarf foundry. The magic toadstool houses your workers. After you build it, additional workers can be purchased at half price, are trained more rapidly so they enter your workforce more quickly and you can speed up your workers for a fee. You can also protect your houses from dragons so you don’t have to repair them and decorate them so you can earn additional rent. The witch cauldron allows you to enchant buildings, which raises their reputation +5, and gild buildings, which means that their value is fixed. Whenever you sell a gilded building, it will sell for full value regardless of how many other homes are currently for sale. If three different cottages are on sale when you put your cottage up for sale, you will have to sell your cottage for quite a bit less as there are more homes available for sale. If you gild your cottage, you will get full value all the time every time. Both gilding and enchanting buildings will raise your rent, as well. The dwarf foundry will allow you to purchase materials at half price and speed up material deliveries. All three structures are useful, but they cost materials and workers so use them wisely. Also, remember that all three structures will lower your reputation levels so houses built near them will be worth less and the city as a whole will have a lower reputation. You may need to destroy your structures to achieve the reputation level that you need to achieve your goals. In addition to structures, there are some special buildings that will be available to you in certain settings. You will build a special airship for the Nutcracker Prince and a pink castle for the Wicked Witch, as well as restaurants for the Frog Prince. You can also boost your reputation by building special buildings that do not provide rent, but do boost the reputation of the buildings on either side of them by as much as +20. These buildings are fixed based on the setting and you will not have the option to build more than one type per level.
For those of you who have not played a Build-a-Lot game before, this is a great one to play. It is fun and I love the fantasy setting! Dragons light your buildings on fire and you have to extinguish them before you can collect more rent. Magic mirrors, pipe organs and other fun items are included in building upgrades. Goals for different settings are story appropriate and fun to work through. For example, the Frog Prince is trying to find a fair maiden to kiss him so he wants to build gazebos and restaurants so he has somewhere romantic to take his dates. The troll wants to gather a lot of gold together so people will like him better. The creators really had a lot of fun with this game and I loved the fresh new settings and little tweaks they made to this game to make it unique and different, yet familiar!
Some of the levels were really challenging, while others were pretty easy. There are 30 regular levels, 9 expert levels and free play available to you on this game. The expert levels will really push your knowledge of the game so play them after you have played the other 30 levels and achieve a blue ribbon on each level. I have played quite a few of the Build-a-Lot games so I can share some general tips and tricks with you if you are new. Don’t be afraid to demolish low-cost buildings to make something bigger and better. Dens do not bring in a lot of money so I almost always demolish them so I can build a more expensive house and get more rent money. Demolish any building that is not helping you achieve your goals and you will find that you progress much more rapidly. Sell your houses strategically. When you begin a level, evaluate how much money and how many workers you have. Do you have enough to achieve your goals? If you need to build tree houses, you will need 7 workers and 1,200 materials. If you are starting the level out with only 3 workers and 500 materials, you need a way to generate some money quickly so you can get going on building and finishing your goals. One of the best ways to do this is to sell a home that you already own. Sell the house first thing when you start the level as no other homes will be for sale and you can get full list price. Use the cash to hire more workers and/or to purchase materials and get going on your goals. You can always buy the building back later! Build-a-lot Fairy Tales also includes a forest option. Each setting offers a different reward for the forested lots, but they offer free money or material when you clear them. You can reforest and harvest the forests multiple times so take advantage of this. You can get double the money back from a forest lot or quite a bit of materials for a little effort. Remember, it is critical to upgrade your homes. A basic tower only provides $2,500 in rent, but, if fully upgraded, it can provide over 3x that! It costs you money and materials, but then you can just sit on that tower and let it generate cash for you. Just remember to be fearless – you don’t have to keep anything and you don’t have to wait to collect rent to achieve your goals. Try different methods and you will be sure to find one that works best for you.
I found that Build-a-lot Fairy Tales was my favorite in the Build-a-Lot series. I was so happy to not have to worry about being green! This version of the game took me back to the first couple of incarnations and I found myself having fun again. Yes, you do need to strategize to achieve your goals, but you can make a few mistakes and still beat the deadline if you can think quick on your feet. I also loved the fairy tale themes and found myself much more willing to achieve silly goals, like tearing down homes and reforesting all of the lots so that the pigs had a place to hide from the Big Bad Wolf’s tower. The goals usually make sense if you think about it from a fairy tale perspective and I really appreciated that extra touch. If you enjoy time-management games with building themes, the Build-a-Lot franchise is the biggest and the best! You will definitely want to play Build-a-lot Fairy Tales and you just might get your kids addicted to them, too!
You will need to read the storyline, hints and goals in English. You do not need to read the storyline to play the game, but it does enhance your enjoyment. Hints are provided on each level that can be critical to your success so be sure that you read through those and don’t just click through them unless you are replaying the level. The goals you need to achieve are written on the top and bottom of your screen for easy reference. Recommended for ages 8 and up.