After all the events that's been happening in my little country known as the United Kingdom (in you're unaware there's been a lot of terrorism and politics), it sure would be nice to have a holiday. A quick look at my bank balance would suggest that Sunflower's 1996 management sim, Holiday Island, is my best bet at having one.
In Holiday Island you are given free-reign to build your very own place in the sun. The choice of location isn't particularly varied as each map has a distinct Mediterranean vibe. Each contains an archipelago of sun-drenched islands though if you don't want to follow the scenarios, you can randomly generate a map. You can still choose what the map will be like, whether it's an atoll or a single island. The land/sea ratio and the frequency of hills and rivers can also be programmed in. Then, once you being the game, you ruin the eco-system by building on it.
The creation of an island resort is rather standard for a business sim. There's a variety of hotels, attractions and infrastructures that need to be connected to a dock or airport by means of a road. Carefully balance eye-sore necessities with entertainment facilities all while balancing limited funds.
It's a fun take on the SimCity formula but it falls short by not really signposting how everything you do can affect your earnings. A hotel alone won't attract many, but even the inclusion of an impressive variety of attractions doesn't seem to either. Yet add a single deck chair and the masses come flocking (if indeed it really was that). Following the same tactic later on will wield a completely different result. This seeming lack of depth will forever see it falling short from the big names of the genre.
If there's one thing that separates this game, it's in the added mechanic of AI controlled rival resorts. These other companies will randomly start building on other islands, though it's not uncommon for them to compete on the same land mass. The way they play can be rather baffling. Their resort could have a power plant smack bang in the middle of a beach, and seemingly not be penalised for it, while a cluster of similar buldings to you will attract more people. Needless to say, the AI leaves a lot to be desired which makes the lack of an online multiplayer mode even more confounding.
Rather than the obvious capitalistic competition driving you to build the best of the best, the most fun way to reach the top is to sabotage your opponents. For a fee you can unleash piranhas into a competitor's pool, soap up an airport's runway to endanger landings or any number of dubious activities. This is by far the most fun aspect of the game, but it doesn't allow for much in the way of tactics. Also, if such an event happens to you there's no real means to aid in prevention or correction. It's very frustrating.
Holiday Island was a budget game admirably aiming for the big league, but it doesn't quite succeed despite some entertaining and fairly original mechanics. Like any low-cost Ibiza resort, it looks nice in pictures but offers very little when you spend time with it.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox running Microsoft Windows 3.1 to get the game working on modern systems. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 236 Mb. Install Size: 390 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Holiday Island is © Sunflowers Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me