In 2005, developer Lionhead Studios released “The Movies”, a game that enabled you to build a movie studio from scratch and make movies. It was a great idea, but since then, there’s been precious little that’s attempted to tackle the same subject.
“Showtime!” isn’t on the same level of production as “The Movies” but it does take on the same concept. Where as “The Movies” was all about the pretty graphics, “Showtime!” attempts to do it largely via text. When you build a sound studio, don’t expect to actually see it; likewise, when you release a movie, you won’t be able to watch your masterpiece.
Some people will already be turned off by that, because they think it sounds dull and boring. And probably for some people it will be. But if you’re checking out this game then you’re presumably interested in the concept, and considering there’s pretty much nothing else out there like it, I feel it’s at least worth a look just for that.
You can start your career from any year, back to 1927. As the years pass, technology will progress, which means you’ll need to upgrade your equipment, or risk producing poor quality movies. You have to hire a script writer (or perhaps buy an existing script), hire a director and producer, as well as actors. There are many factors that go into deciding whether you produce a turkey, or a monster global hit.
The game isn’t perfect. It’s a great concept, but it’s limited in scope, although that’s perfectly understandable considering the tiny independent developer. There has also been bugs in the game, sometimes big ones. But the great thing is that the developer is very eager to identify and eliminate the bugs. For example, I reported a game breaking bug, and within 24 hours a new patch was out that fixed it. How many developers, big or small, can honestly say something similar?
Another problem with the current build is that some technologies aren’t linked to the year of movie development. For example, you can use CGI in your movies right from 1927. Likewise, if you wish to purchase an existing script, one category you can chose from – again, right from the start – is video game adaptions. The developer is aware of these limitations, though, and is apparently keen to try and find ways to address these concerns, once all the bugs have been squashed.
I do think it’s worth buying this game, because of the concept and because the developer is very eagerly continuing to work on it. However, I only recommend it if you understand that the game is essentially text based and that you’re okay with that. You should be because it's actually rather addictive!
UPDATE: Those technologies that were wrongly available right from the start have already been fixed, so now no long will you be able to use CGI nor buy a script based on a video game in the 1920's. And the bugs are rapidly getting ironed out, and I can't applaud the developer enough for his diligence.