PyramidVille on Facebook: The Zynga effect is no mirage

It's not exactly in good form to sum up a new game to the features of its predecessors, but with a name like PyramidVille that's basically unavoidable. Kobojo's runaway hit with over 2.2 million monthly players simply cannot escape the lens of popular games like FrontierVille and CityVille with how closely it attempts to emulate their success. Though, there are a few outstanding features in the game that Zynga would (and more than likely will) be smart to learn from. And while PyramidVille runs without a hitch and features an exquisitely animated presentation, there are moments in the game that will inspire the ultimate question: why?

If you're familiar with Zynga's stable of 'Ville games--which we'll just assume you are--PyramidVille doesn't present much of a learning curve, if one at all. Though, even if this is your first time playing a property management Facebook game, the tutorial does an excellent job of ironing out the basics. You are an Egyptian landlord of sorts, guided by Cleopatra herself to turn your single hut with a few workers into a sprawling sand-ridden city. To do this, you must (you guessed it!) plant crops, building new structures, and supply those buildings with Goods that sprout from said crops. See, we told you this one would be familiar.

PyramidVille in actions
However, what's interesting is that Kobojo has somehow taken elements more than likely inspired by FrontierVille and CityVille, and merged them into a single game. For instance, your avatar is fully customizable, and your actions are done through it--just like in FarmVille and FrontierVille. Actions that, of course, exhaust Energy that refills over time or can be restored instantly with Gems, the game's paid currency. Though, housing structures that increase your overall population of workers must be filled with Goods sourced from farming, a fundamental mechanic to CityVille. Did we mention you must also clear debris to place new buildings and decorations at the cost of Energy--sound familiar?

This process is essentially the cycle you'll encounter for the rest of the game. The game features several resources including Wood, Fibers, Metal and Clay. But unfortunately they're treated as items and not resources like in other property management games, meaning their not displayed in the interface but rather relegated to the Inventory system. Of course, these are unnecessary clicks that could have been avoided.

PyramidVille on Facebook
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PyramidVille on Facebook: The Zynga effect is no mirage

To the game's credit, PyramidVille handles the creation of special buildings (like the Saw Mill that produces Wood products) far better than any Zynga game has, at least in its early levels. Instead of simply requiring you to either ask friends for unique materials or for them to fill staff within a specific building, those situations aren't nearly as prominent. For instance, to complete the Saw Mill you're required to harvest the land for Wood, Fiber and Clay, but you must ask friends to provide you with two Baskets. It's refreshing to see that PyramidVille isn't as reliant on friend interaction as its inspirations, and takes on a healthy balance of the two.

However, there are some glaring omissions that, when put under the scope of its predecessors, almost detract from the experience. Namely the fact that when interacting with objects, your rewards fall onto the ground, though picking them up by clicking has no effect whatsoever on, well, anything. There is no "bonus bar" that rewards you for picking up these items, so why even have them drop to the ground?

PyramidVille preview
Though, the game's most obvious mistake is, simply put, that it takes on too many features and mechanics from its more-established counterparts, all of which require Energy. This essentially leaves you motionless within what feels like seconds of playing, waiting for that blue meter to refill. PyramidVille certainly looks and moves beautifully, an accomplishment where even some of the big league players have failed. But Kobojo has created what seems to be a game that aspires to be a buffet of features that feels more like leftovers. If anything, PyramidVille is an incredibly alluring palette swap for those who have grown tired of the Old West.

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Have you tried this new 'Ville competitor yet? How do you think it sizes up to its predecessors? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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