Where it doesn’t excel is the actual gameplay.

On opening the game, you are presented with a lengthy tutorial that makes it seem as if it’s a PC game – extensive instructions on the mechanics of laying down a township with roads and power,  so detailed that it’s easy to think that this might actually turn out to be an actual game, rather than the standard idler. Maybe it’s like Cities: Skylines or (shudder) Sim City?

Sadly, soon after finishing the tutorial you are presented with the dreaded wait timers. Wait to get work from a factory, wait to make it into lumber, and wait to upgrade a home. This is all pretty standard for idlers, but it’s made irritatingly worse when you are led to believe it might be something different. Suppose you want to not wait? Why, of course, you can watch ads or pay money to complete individual productions. Reasonable, right?

This tantalizingly disappointing start to the game posions the rest of this waiting experience. Ultimately, that’s what City Mania is – it has a lot of bright, cheerful colours, but doesn’t provide anything other than endless waiting and a feeling of general disappointment.

a lot of bright, cheerful colours, but doesn’t provide anything other than endless waiting and a feeling of general disappointment.

It’s a bit like going to a restaurant that looked really good from the outside; you get in and it still looks nice, so you sit down. Then, you wait for 45 minutes for your food and, when it finally arrives, it’s mediocre. It’s made all the worse because you waited so long and were made to believe you’d get something so great.

To further drill home that this game was quite clearly made for children and not adults with things to do, the town is populated with a variety of extremely bubbly and excitable cartoon characters that wander around meaninglessly.

They seem to possess an unending supply of random comments, occasionally popping up with a gift to give you if you provide them with a high-five. It would appear the citizens of your town subsist off of affection from their mayor for their daily sustenance; they are so pleased that you deign to feed them that they’ll pay you with… wire? And… electrical equipment? All of which seem to arbitrarily be the resources needed to expand your town borders.

The arbitrariness of this game is without a doubt the most frustrating aspect of City Mania. New buildings cost a random amount of random resources, seemingly scaled up based on the size of your town. This means that you are constantly needing to improve your production buildings to afford new upgrades, only to find that your rate of growth is pretty much the same, as the cost goes up arbitrarily, as well as requiring new resources that you’ve unlocked.

An intensely frustrating, arbitrary experience is ultimately what awaits you in City Mania; as a basic mobile city builder with some cartoon elements, it does an okay job.

As an actual game? It’s pretty empty.

[appbox googleplay com.gameloft.android.ANMP.GloftCMHM]