Tropico 6 Switch Review – A Fun Filled Dictator Simulator

Have you ever thought you could do a better job than Boris Johnson or Donald Trump? Well now’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is in Tropico 6 on Nintendo Switch, where you rule a small Caribbean nation as El Presidente the benevolent dictator or democratically elected ruler if that’s your wish. 

Rule your country your way, decide if you want to get be election speeches.

Tropico 6 is a real-time strategy game set across 4 eras of history; colonial, world wars, cold war and modern. Similarly to Tropico 5 in each era a lot of new buildings become unlocked. Only this time there is a far greater variety. If you’ve played a Tropico in the past there’s a lot to come back for as Tropico 6 is by far the best in the series and now on Switch it’s portable too.

There’s so many buildings on offer that you may never build them all.

There are two modes in Tropico 6 you either play a mission of which there are 15 or play a sandbox game where you can choose all sorts of settings from your starting era, to population, to victory conditions and more. A tutorial is also included however despite being in depth, it still only covers the basics and can still be overwhelming. There’s a whole lot under the hood in Tropico 6. The tutorial does help teach you basic building, trade routes, keeping citizens happy to prevent uprisings but it doesn’t teach you how to manage everything at once or even how to make enough money to keep your country afloat.

Keep those factions happy or you’ll get harsh requests with devastating consequences.

In each game you’ll start with an archipelago of a few islands (which is a new feature of Tropico 6) and a few basic buildings. Then it’s up to you to build a thriving nation choosing your way as you go, balancing demands from variations factions among your Tropican citizens such as the industrialists and environmentalists or the militarists and religious. It is possible to keep everyone happy but it’s hard work and expensive so often easier to choose sides. You don’t just have to keep your public happy to avoid revolt, you’ll also face global superpowers and make sure they don’t invade, this is best done through trade routes. 

See exactly where you’re earning money as well charts for tons of things including employment and housing.

There’s a myriad of different buildings to build from different crops to farm, types of ranches, factories, homes, entertainment buildings, news outlets, tourism, military and more, easily accessible through a selection wheel. Then you can set different ways the building can operate and change budgets. You’ll also handle political policies and research and set edicts (laws) such as free housing or forcing workers to do double shifts in factories. You can speed up time so you’ll never be sitting around doing nothing.

Research different policies and building modes.

Your Caribbean paradise is convenient to manage as you can look at overlays for absolutely everything from fun to liberty. This is important to help you know where to build various buildings and to plan for the future as the various islands are quite small adding a lot of strategy to building placement and road layout. Handily you can move buildings.

You can dispose of pesky citizens in many ways.

Even with 5 levels in the tutorial and being largely told what to build in the campaign missions, Tropico 6 still doesn’t hold your hand and leaves you to figure out a great deal such as the very first mission. Unless you build watchtowers on each island, pirates will come and ravage you and your buildings, also the game only hints that keeping ‘The Crown’ happy will keep you in power and doesn’t let you outrightly know that increasing your mandate is key to this. The demands of other missions are far more straightforward such as creating a communist state through tasks such as destroying all of your capitalist buildings of banks and mansions. 

Watch invasions, wars or revolts go down in real time.

Gone are the days when you could just build a rum factory or two and cruise through the campaign off the back of your booze money. Not only is it now far more difficult to make a fiscally thriving nation but the missions themselves dictate the play style needed. This can be constraining but also teaches you to play in ways that I had never thought of actually doing myself so it was eye opening to the complexities under the hood of Tropico, as well as keeping each mission extremely varied. You can attempt to convert all of your Tropicans into a particular faction then issue edicts (laws) to keep that faction happy or create an industrial state full of various types of factories using the profits to give your citizens luxuries and keep them happy. You can create a tourist paradise and take the money from all the fat sweaty westerners. There are so many different ways you can play and the missions will enlighten you to various styles.

There are loads of options you can change in sandbox mode.

The graphics are absolutely fine and for a real time strategy game you really don’t need the most in-depth graphics. It’s easy to tell the difference between the various buildings and importantly it plays very smoothly with only a little bit of slow down when the game is auto saving.

Customise your palace and El Presidente, though there’s still very little for El Prez.

The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic and really sets the Caribbean flavour of Tropico, there is some voice acting which does help a bit and everything is very comical which adds a real tongue-in-cheek element to your Banana Republic.

Unlike real politicians you have to follow through on elections promises or lose support.

The controls work but are a bit janky to say the least with all sorts of weirdness such as the only way to change the priority when constructing buildings is to scroll down to cancel then scroll back up. You can use the touch screen but only on some menus. However you very quickly get used to exactly how the controls work and it’s only a slight issue for the first few hours at the most.

Roads can still be a pain sometimes but are improved in general.

Tropico 6 is fantastic value for money as it took me almost 15 hours to complete the 5 short tutorial missions and the first three of the 15 campaign missions let alone how long it would take to play a sandbox game from the colonial era all the way up to modern times. There’s a great deal of fun to be had and you can rule your country in any way you like which really adds to the replay value. The missions being extremely varied really helps keep the game fresh and wanting to come back for more. The more I played and became in tune with the eccentricities of the game the more I enjoyed my time with it. The Tropico series is admittedly one of my favourite real-time strategies but Tropico 6 is by far my favourite in the series and I for one will be playing this game for a very long time to come, Viva la Tropico!

A huge thank you to Kalypso Media for providing the review code. Tropico 6 is available now both physically and digitally on the eShop for £44.99/€49.99/$49.99.

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