Cart Life is a retail/life simulation game whereby you have to deal with your day job, your personal issues, and your necessities. To elaborate, your day job consists of handing a food stand – be it coffee stand, news stand or hot dog stand. You have different personal issues such as handling divorce or feeding the cat. Lastly, you need to feed yourself or feed your addiction and go to bed. The game is truly a one part Harvest Moon in the business management sense, and the other part The Sims with a storyline placed in between.
The game is played in outright black and white, and most items looks square-ish and pixelated. Call it minimalism or blame the producers’ ability to make things look fancier, but the graphics doesn’t really make the game a whole lot worse. I’d say while the black and white does add to the ghetto life image, the squares and blocks that gives the game a retro feel, kinda makes me wonder how this game runs so smoothly on Windows 7.
Yes, the game runs excellent on Windows 7, and simply because it isn’t an old game despite how it looks. It is recent, and still being improved upon. You do have to be minimally savvy to install the game, as it does not come with an installer. Instead, you have to extract the files into a folder, and to play the game, you have to run Cart Life.exe.
Here’s the deal: when I played the game on my netbook, there was a bit of an issue. It won’t load. Everytime I would run the game, there will be some error stating that my graphics driver (Intel GMA3150) is not supported. After running winsetup.exe in the folder, I changed the Graphics Driver to DirectDraw 5, and it worked fine thereafter.
After fixing these little problems, you can then enjoy a really interesting indie game. In the free version, you can play as Melanie, who is going through a divorce, and has a lot of things on her plate. She has to handle her divorce, handle her daughter and handle Seth, her former-husband-to-be.
Then there’s the immigrant perspective from which you can start the game. Andrus Poder is another character which is a migrant from the Ukraine, he come from old kuntry, no muney, no haos. He has little possessions – a cat, a few smokes and a cigarette, with a paltry $2,200 or so, to which he will spend two fine grands on a news stand in a ghetto.
The game starts from there. You are now compelled to find your own way into business. Should you sell bagels, hot dogs, coffee, fancy coffee (i.e. latte, espressos), newspapers or some secret recipe? And in this mix, how do you price your goods? Once that is done, you’ll be compelled to sell stuff. Meet the customer, small talk them for a bigger tip?
Every customer has different preferences. Some like demand that you serve them fast. For example, the Chef with his Gordon Ramsey like attitude is curt and has little patience. You’ll have to sell your stuff fast or he’ll leave. And that begins the three step process to sales: first, the computer prompts whether you remember what the customer wanted in the order, then it asks you to type a 20 – 30 character text, and then it asks you to handle the change via mental sums (i.e. what is $20.00 – $3.21). Coming from a retail background, I was shocked that I needed to do mental sums, I would just type it into the computer and… oh wait, Andrus doesn’t have a computer. And that is what is so engrossing about the game. It’s a life simulation, retail simulation and then it’s fun too. It is also free.
I did arrive at a bit of a shock and no awe, though, while playing as Andrus. After racking up enough dough, I managed to pay the weekly rental of $119, on the next Monday after Andrus arrives in Georgetown. The game then goes into a cutscene with his cat cuddling him. And the game ends.
That was truly terrifying and disappointing. I wanted to make espressos. Now I’ll never manage. I wanted to make fancy bagels. Now I’ll never have enough time to make the dough (both money and dough dough) to make the bagel. The producer of this game justifies that this is part of the plan, as he wanted the story that surrounds these characters to make sense, which necessitates an ending at a set point in time. Perhaps he is right in another sense too, because sandbox games do get really boring once you’ve reached the top – once you can’t upgrade anymore or once you’ve made a ton of cash that you can never finish. On subsequent playthroughs though, you do get a bit better, a bit more efficient, and you find out little nuggets everytime. It gets better and better.
Overall, this game is an excellent game for your netbook. It runs excellent, plays great (if a bit short), and is a great look into ghetto life and paycheck-to-paycheck economics. As a netbook game, you’ll be able to enjoy it almost perfectly as long as you do the necessary fixes. There are a few bugs, though, as this game is not exactly complete, so do remember to save your game daily. You can get the game here.
What is Netbookist?At Netbookist, we're commited to finding out the limits of a netbook, especially in gaming. We're also interested in optimization, tweaking, and pushing the netbook to the cutting edge.
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