Free Enterprise

by Al Giovetti
Genre: strategy
Release: August 1996
Publisher: Tsunami Media
Requirements: ent2.gif - 4.5 K

History: Tsunami Media has had a hard road since they left Sierra a few years back. (Founded by Edmond Heinbockel in the summer of 1991, Tsunami Media Inc. is located in Oakhurst, California adjacent to Yosemite. - Ed.) Many of their games have not garnered either critical acclaim nor great sales. Some of their games, such as the graphic animated adventures, including Return to Ringworld, deserved attention, since they were equally as good as any that Sierra was doing.

Tsunami switched to cinematic or full motion video adventures shortly after releasing several good games, that unfortunately did not sell as well as expected. This latest venture is, like many other Tsunami products, a potentially great hit. Now if only a few people sit up and take notice.

Plot: You want to start a manufacturing business and you want to make money. You have a good idea and you also have a little money that someone invested. You have a limited period of time to build the business to a net worth of five million dollars or its all over.

Gameplay: First you select where to start your business from a selection of 50 cities. Then you select the type of business you want to start from 100 different products, the employees from a pool of thousands, and the amount of money you want to start with. The game is gets harder the more money you take to start off with.

Part of the game involves checking the cafeteria to see who is goofing off. Getting people offices and hiring people qualified for certain jobs keeps them out of the cafeteria. The virtual employees are amazingly capable of all the vices of humans, like turning up drunk, spending time in the john, arguing with other employees, and other good and bad traits.

When you buy one machine, remember this is a small business, you can check production by clicking on the conveyor belts. From personnel check each task that someone is performing. Specific assignments must be given to each employee from dumping the garbage and sweeping the floor to management functions.

If you become successful you can open subsidiaries and plants in other locations and cities. You can also diversify and construct in other industries. A nice touch would have been the ability to create related products that would save money over buying components needed to manufacture. The make or buy decision is a staple of management accounting. It would have been nice to see it in the simulation along with stock out amounts, minimum order quantities, just in time systems, job and process costing, and other features of real manufacturing businesses. ent4.gif - 3.1 K

Disasters: You must keep track of everything or you may miss a disaster, or changes in personnel that could make them a liability instead of an asset. Keeping track of a lot of things can be difficult and too much like real work. To bad there are no automated systems to help you monitor these things.

Graphics and animations: Very simple two dimensional graphics with no fancy animations.

Music score:

Voice actors: Voice over newscasts explaining dramatic events of import to the business were well done.

Sound Effects: Sound effects are found throughout the game and highlight various events and features.

Multiplayer: There is currently no multi-player support for Free Enterprise.

Leandro Asnaghi-Nicastro and Allan Earle,, 8/10 (80%)
Scott Udell, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 70, September, 1996, pg. 55.
Lesley Litt and Kevin Murnane,
Al Giovetti, Return to Ringworld, Computer Player, volume 1, number 3, August, 1994, pg. 38-39.