Become El Presidente of your own island paradise in Tropico [Android Game of the Week]

Strategy Games Hero
Strategy Games Hero (Image credit: Android Central)

There are a staggering number of casual simulation games on the Google Play Store, and it makes sense. A great mobile simulation game should let you choose between a slower, more methodical play for times when you just want to relax or let you run roughshod and create as much chaos as you can as you try and push the game past its limits (we'll meet again one day, Egg Inc.).

Now, a really popular sub-genre is the city building and construction sim, and those can be great concepts to build a game around — but only as long as there's a unique premise being presented and gameplay that actually hands control over to the player. I swear, if I see another half-assed city-building sim based on a popular TV series that has you wait an arbitrary length of time for anything to get build I'm going to throw a phone at a wall.

That's my roundabout way of showing appreciation for Tropico dropping into the Google Play Store. When you're burnt out on playing so many casual sims aiming to bilk away your time and money it's so refreshing to play a polished and complete game like Tropico that features clever writing and so much potential for unique gameplay.

Tropico is essentially a dictatorship simulator where you step into the role of El Presidente of your own Caribbean island paradise and it's up to you to lead your country and its people to a glorious future. You're put in charge of managing all aspects of life and society on the island, from building new roads and structures, training your citizens with schools and military bases, managing the economy by building farms and industries while setting workers wages, and handling international relations by export resources to other nations. That's not to mention micro-managing the politics of the island which involves keeping the people happy by improving the quality of life and deciding how to prevent protests from turning into full-blown rebellions.

Tropico is brimming with references to historical figures and events along with a wicked dark sense of humor that ties the whole experience together quite nicely.

You can choose to be a benevolent leader who makes sure each citizen is housed and well-fed with opportunities for meaningful employment and education, or be a ruthless dictator who rigs elections, rules with an iron fist, and sells off the country's natural resources to pad your private fortunes — or some mix in between. You see, in Tropico, morals and ethics are entirely flexible.

The scale and scope of the game are absolutely overwhelming, which is why you'll absolutely want to start with the tutorial that guides you through menu navigation and how to control the floating camera with touchscreen controls. The camera controls, in particular, take some time getting used to but everything else is laid out sensibly enough for mobile devices so that you should gain a firm grasp of everything by the end of your first campaign.

Speaking of which, there are 15 campaign islands to play through that each offer set objectives to complete along with a sandbox mode that lets you play the game however your tyrant heart desires. You can also adjust the speed of play, which lets you play in "real time" and micromanage everything on the ground level, or speed up time and burn through a campaign in under an hour.

For anyone really familiar with the Tropico franchise, the Android game is a mobile port of Tropico 3 which was initially released on PC back in 2009. There's a list of officially supported devices which include 28 smartphones and tablets including the Google Pixel 2/3/3a and XL variants along with most Samsung Galaxy smartphones from the S8/Note 8 up to now.

The Play Store will only let you purchase games that are capable of running on your phone, so if you've bought your phone new in the past three years or so you should be fine. For example, the Huawei P30 Pro isn't on the official list, but I was able to download and play it with no issues.

See previous Android Games of the Week

Marc Lagace

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.