Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator logo

Reviewed by Tina Hackett

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside. Oh I do like to be beside the sea. Tralalaleh etc." or so the old ditty went which nobody can ever remember the next few lines for. Well, believe it or not, this is a relevant intro/tenuous link because software company Vulcan have taken this theme and used it in their latest game.

Called Hill Sea Lido, it's a seaside management simulator - sounds a little odd. I mean what possible work is involved in managing a stretch of beach? Well, it's a while lot more complicated than you might think, and there is plenty of work involved as a budding business entrepreneur.

You have 20 metres of beach and promenade to do with what you want, plus the running of the Pier Theatre, and the aim is to expand your desolate stretch of beach into a money-making resort. You must buy shops, build attractions, and keep the place tidy. Staff must be hired too, from the lifeguard to the guy that walks around with a sandwich board advertising the shows. You need to keep a constant eye on your stock such as keeping the burger bar filled with burgers, and keep the price at a rate which will keep the customers happy and keep you in profit.

Okay, so it's not a serious simulation of business life, but then again, why would you want one like that anyway? What it does offer is a novel scenario which, although fun, is very challenging. It's actually very hard to get those profits rolling in. You also have to make sure your resort passes the high standards of the Health and Safety Inspector who will fine you a ridiculous amount of money should he find low standards of hygiene or safety.
At the other end of the scale, though, if you keep your resort pristine then you stand a good chance of winning one of the possible awards which as well as giving prestige comes with extra money.

Superbly designed and a real bargain to boot - you'd be crazy not to buy this

Tourists can also be a pain but as usual the customer is always right. If there aren't enough refreshments or activities they won't come back. You can find out who they are by clicking on them - the screen will tell you how fussy they are, what they want you to build and for example, how hungry they are.

Graphically, it's bright and cheerful and has a charm of its own. It's probably not as detailed as some games but the cartoon style works well with the light-hearted theme of the game. There are some entertaining animations such as the various shows you can book - Michael Jickson performs his great 'grabbing the crotch routine' and cheeky ChippenDave bares all to the audience.

Sound options are available for this too and, for instance, if you want to order something from the warehouse the cashier will shake her head to agree or disagree accompanied by an "Uh huh!" or "Aha!" - basically yes or no. The usual seaside noises can be heard, along with van engines and whines of complaint from the disgruntled customers if they see too much litter. There are also some nice cheerful dittys which keep the whole thing rolling along nicely.

Let's go to work

During the game you will need to hire casual labour to keep the place running smoothly. You should aim to keep your beech and promenade as tidy as possible and to do this you can hire Refuse Specialists. Don't forget to collect the money from your shops and facilities - you can send out your Cash Man and the money will then be transferred to your bank. However, it may also be wise to hire Wideboy Securities to protect him he's doing this.
The safety of the swimmers is important too, so a Life Guard can be called upon to keep an eye out. And when you've booked one of the many talents for your show, it pays to advertise, so regularly hire the Advertisers to walk around the beach to tell everyone about the weekly entertainment.


Without a doubt, this is one of the most fun games we've had over the last few months. Animations add humour, playability is challenging, and the theme is refreshing.
It is not quite as in-depth as Theme Park, which is another game in this fun management type genre and maybe it is not up to the same graphical quality, but it is definitely as addictive and plays brilliantly. It's only £12.99 and stacks an absolute ton of gameplay into it. Superbly designed and a real bargain to boot - you'd be crazy not to buy this.
Things are looking up at long last with with the recent releases of Flight of the Amazon Queen, Breathless and Coala. ALong with this title we could definitely see a revival for the Amiga games scene. A real breath of fresh air.

Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator logo

Imagine Theme Park set on a beach and a promenade. You've got a million quid to make a success of things. Steve McGill checked it out

Try to imagine a stripped down version of Theme Park that bases its gameplay on a micro-consumerist model of inter-relational market dynamics, psychological profiling, and capital investment.

If you imagined Vulcan's Hillsea Lido that way, then you'd probably think the game was just about as boring as the financial section of the Sunday Times.

In a way, you'd be half right. Despite having harnessed and tethered that all important addiction element, Hillsea Lido suffers from some mundanely mechanics that drive the player to distraction.

Yet, curiously, due to the purpose of the game, this doesn't interfere too much with the overriding desire to make more money and increase the size of your beach.

You start the game with £1 million pounds and a 20 metre stretch of beach and promenade. The aim of the game is to attract as many punters as you can to your stretch of beach, have them spend money on your beach attractions and promenade shops, and eventually branch out and buy more beach until you've got a stretch longer than the Golden Mile.

There's more to it than that of course. Facilities have to be provided to keep the punters happy and, in a similar vein to Theme Park, different customers have different preferences and tolerances; in the game these are referred to as the punter's fussiness.

It's the player's ability to harness and exploit these varying tastes, preferences and tolerances that separates the entrepreneurial from the Big Issue vendors.

While I found it hard to actually lose money, I did, after an extended session of play, note that I had reached a zenith of consumers visiting my beach. The numbers dropped slowly, but surely week in, week out, yet I was still managing to expand albeit more slowly than I could have.

That's the beauty of Hillsea Lido, despite the regimented tediousness of some the regular procedures such as stocking and maintaining shops, ensuring beach and promenade cleanliness, it's basically challenging your sense of fiscal efficiency.

If you feel the need to release the megalomaniacal shark within, give Hillsea Lido the once over, despite my reservations on its repetitiveness, it really is a tidy little game.

ROLL 'EM IN The real money gets made on the promenade. Tempt punters with these.
Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: The Beachball Shop Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Jumbo Hotdog Stall Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Candy floss shop Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: The Beachball Shop
The Beachball shop Jumbo Hotdog Stall Candy floss shop Mark's T Shirt
Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Pete's Bucket Spade Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Italian Ice Cream Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Simon's Sunglasses Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Toffee Apples
Pete's Bucket Spade Italian Ice Cream Simon's Sunglasses Toffee Apples
Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Charlie's Crabs Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Fresh Orange Juice Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Fish and Chips Shop Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Big Hamburger Stall
Charlie's Crabs Fresh Orange Juice Fish and Chips Shop Big Hamburger Stall
Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Joe's Coffee Bar Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Rita's Rubber Rings Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Canned Cola Shop Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator: Slik Suntan Lotion
Joe's Coffee Bar Rita's Rubber Rings Canned Cola Shop Slik Suntan Lotion

Lido di Lire

Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator logo

Mit "Theme Park" in der einen und dem semiprofessionellen Entwicklertool "AMOS" in der anderen Hand hat das Vulcan-Team eine durchaus eigenständige und dazu recht ansprechende Wirtschaftssimulation geschaffen: Willkommen im Strandbad!

Nach dem Programmstart ist der Platz an der Sonne noch öd und leer, nur die tickende Uhr treibt den angehenden Seebadverwalter zur Eile an. Um die Nobelwüste mit wirtschaftlichem Leben zu erfüllen, müssen also zuerst mal ein paar Attraktionen installiert werden, die den Rubel ins Rollen bringen.

Für den Anfang bietet sich da z.B. ein schnuckeliger Eisstand an, aber auch ein Andenkenladen oder eine Imbißbude kann nicht schaden. Mit etwas Glück spazieren dann bald die ersten Leute über die Promenade und teilen ihre Urlaubskasse brüderlich mit dem Kassenwart vor dem Monitor. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt darf man langsam an eine vorsichtige Preiserhöhung denken - aber wer hier zu gierig ist, macht schneller mit dem Pleitegeier Bekanntschaft, als ihm lieb sein kann.

Kümmern wir uns statt dessen also besser um die Sauberkeit, denn ohne Mülleimer und Reinigungspersonal verwandelt sich die Erholungslandschaft in eine riesige Müllkippe. Tja, der Mensch ist eben ein Schwein.

Damit bei der Lagerhaltung der diversen Shops erst gar keine Schweinereien entstehen können, ist auch hier Aufmerksamkeit gefragt, schließlich ist stets mit gewissen Lieferzeiten oder gar -störungen zu rechnen. Und wer will schon mitten in der Hochsaison plötzlich ohne labbrige Hackfleischbrötchen dastehen?

Aber das ist erst der Anfang, denn neben der Promenade will auch der eigentliche Strand "kultiviert" werden: Eselreiten, Paragliding, Boot-, Surfbrett- und Jet-ski-Verleih, alles ist möglich. Wer hier ebenfalls auf angemessene Preise und eine saubere Umwelt achtet, kann sich zur Belohnung über einen ganzen Strand voller zahlungswilliger Kunden freuen - und in regelmäßigen Abständen den Kurtaxen-Eintreiber losschicken.

Fühlt sich der Badegast wohl, denkt der Strandbadbetreiber bereits über die nächsten Einrichtungen nach, die seinen Wirtschaftsbetrieb noch attraktiver machen könnten. Blumenkübel, Bäume oder Ferngläser ziehen die Augenmenschen an, aber dann stellt man auf einmal mit Entsetzen fest: Es ist ja schon alles zugebaut, und nirgendwo findet sich noch ein Plätzchen für weitere Errungenschaften!

Das ist exakt der Zeitpunkt, an dem man den meterweisen Erwerb von zusätzlichen Land angehen sollte. Ein Balken am unteren Bildschirmrand verschafft dem Spieler dabei jederzeit den Überblick über die eigene betriebsfläche und die noch verfügbaren Ufergrundstücke.

Für all die Mühen, die man bei der Errichtung seines sandigen Wirtschaftsimperiums auf sich genommen hat, kann man sich bei Hillsea Lido sogar selbst belohnen. Die Rede ist von den wöchentlich stattfindenden Show-veranstaltungen, die nicht nur den Gästen etwas Abwechslung bieten; je nach Kassenlage engagiert man zu Wochenbeginn mehr oder weniger hochkarätige Künstler, die dann am darauffolgenden Sonntag für ein volles Haus sorgen sollen.

Anfangs kann man sich da zwar höchstens ein mittelprächtig begabten Jongleur leisten, aber sobald man mit den richtigen Scheinen winkt, verlieren selbst Megastars wie Michael Jackson ihre natürliche Scheu. Damit sich diese Sensationen in der urlaubenden Bevölkerung rechtzeitig herumsprechen, wird kräftig die Werbetrommel gerührt, indem man ein lebendes Anzeigen-Sandwich mit Plakaten herumspazieren läßt. Am Sonntag darf man sich dann entspannt zurücklehnen und selbst in einer kleinen Animation das jeweilige Programm bewundern.

Nach so viel Sonne, Sand und Entertainment ist es allmählich an der Zeit, auch mal einen weniger angenehmen Teil von Hillsea Lido zu erwähnen. Die 32-Farben-Grafik ist nämlich allenfalls nach AMOS-Maßstäben erträglich, und die enthaltenen Animationen sind schlichtweg grauenhaft. Immerhin muß man den Vulcaniern zugutehalten, daß sie praktische jede vorkommende Aktion auf dem Screen darstellen: Bauarbeiter errichten neue Stände, Tretbootfahrer strampeln in den Fluten, blonde Schönheiten räkeln sich am Strand.

Die Soundkulisse gefällt da schon weitaus besser, obwohl man auch hier keine echten Meisterwerk erwarten darf aber dafür wenigstens ein paar witzige Sprachsamples.

Richtig gut wird's allerdings erst bei der einwandfreien Maussteuerung die flott von der Hand geht und den Spieler komfortabel durch die Menüs geleistet. Seinen großen Auftritt hat Hillsea Lido dann beim Gameplay, das trotz (oder wegen) seiner massive Anleihen bei "Theme Park" von Minute zu Minute mehr Reize entwickelt.

Selbst wer den Digi-Jahrmarkt von Peter Molyneux & Co. schon in- und auswendig kennt, sollte hier ruhig mal reinschauen, denn das vulcanische Gegenstück besitzt genügend Eigenständigkeit, um auch erfahrenen Vergnügungsparkbetreibern noch Kurzweil zu verschaffen. Am wenigsten haben knallharte Kauflaute von dem Game, denn die dürften sich von dieser fröhlich-entspannten Seebadsimulation schlicht und ergreifend unterfordert fühlen.

Doch wer ein paar ebenso unterhaltsame wie erholsame Tage am Strand verbringen will, liegt am bzw. Hillsea Lido genau richtig! (mic)

Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator logo

Do we love to be beside the seaside management sim?

You've been reading AP for long enough now to realise that these reviews aren't written in a vacuum. Clearly, even the MIGHTIEST GAME REVIWING TYPE BEING THINGS couldn't produce the sort of incisive insights into the world of Amiga games WITHOUT TALING TO EACH OTHER.

I mention this because I'm about to relate a conversation I had with Cam one rainy Saturday morning as I sat in the office playing Hillsea Lido. He had been working extraordinarily hard for a few days (actually, that's strictly true but 'on a freebie to Switzerland' sounds a mite too showbiz) and, though clearly extremely tired, his views were as lucid and apposite as ever.

I mention this because I'm paid by the word and the more words I write without actually talking about the game, the more I feel I've won some sort of victory over the running dog lackeys of the imperialist bourgeoisie that are AP's FACELESS CORPORATE MASTERS. I only mention that because I enjou SHOUTING OCCASIONALLY.

So, anyway, I was playing Hillsea Lido and Cam said, "It's a bit like Theme Park isn't it?" I agreed that it was very much like it, only not as good. And this is where the story really starts.

Hillsea Lido, you see, is a holiday resort sim. Which is just like Theme Park except that that's a theme park sim. And Hillsea Lido isn't as good. You are, in a very virtual sense, the manager of a patch of dingy south coast sea front and you must marshal your limited resources in an effort to create an award-winning profit-making holiday paradise. In Hillsea. Which is spelt a bit like Hilsea. Which is a suburb of Portsmouth. And consequently nowhere that any sane person would wish to visit unless it had award-winning sea-front attractions and top rubber dinghy rental huts.

Spelt a bit like Hilsea

The scenario is quite plausible. You have a small patch of sea front to call your own and a small amount of money to spend on it. You must buy stalls, stands, services and assorted pavement furniture to fill both the promenade and the beach in the hope that you might attract hoards of tourists and their bulging wallets/purses/bum-bags. (In America, bum-bags are called 'fanny-packs'- a fact which I found hugely amusing for at least three or four minutes until someone kindly pointed out that I was being juvenile. Again).

Once the huts, stalls and shops are built you must stock them with stock which you buy by telephone from a wholesaler. You must set your prices, employ casual labour to clean up, act as security and advertise the shows at the theatre (which you also control).

Buying the stalls and stands can be quite a tedious experience. The salesman has a catalogue from which you must select your purchases. You look at each successive page by clicking a certain part of the screen. And when you reach the last page you have to leave the salesman screen and come back before you can start browsing from the beginning again.

And there seems to be some sort of arbitrary delay built into the wholesaler's delivery network so that your stock seldom arrives on time. Unlike the real world you cannot tell them to get their fingers out or risk losing your custom because they have a monopoly on everything.
Time Passes...

At every week's end your successes are evaluated, prizes are awarded and you may go to the theatre to watch a surreal show that wouldn't be out of place on Felix Unusual's World Of The Decidedly Odd. If there were such a thing. And I for one think there should be.

It's not possible to play the game properly without reading the manual. And even though the version included with my review copy of the game came ina special do-it-yourself '16-page signature' version which had to be folded, stapled and cut with a scissors before I could read it, it still wasn't entertaining.

But few of them are and that's not the point. The point is that it's not a particularly complex game and it ought to be straightforward to control once you know roughly what you're supposed to do. But it isn't, so you have to read the manual. And you shouldn't really have to in this day and age. Or should you? Or SHOULD you? OR... oh, never mind.

The tall chap with glasses

But why, we asked each other (that's me and Cam - you remember Cam, he's the tall chap with the glasses with whom I was chatting just a few paragraphs ago), would anyone want to spend any amount of time and effort to produce a game that's very similar to another one only not as good?

If you're not backed by someone like Electronic Arts, and you don't have bags of cash and two years to develop it, why would you think it worth your while to develop it, why would you think it worth your while to write a game that was just like another, very successful, game? It clearly wouldn't be as good and probably a waste of your time. We thought so.

It's all exceedingly competent and everything. The graphics look okay okay although you just get a 2D scrolling view of your patch of prom/beach rather than an isometric one. The spot effects, samples and background sounds are entertaining. And the scenario is quite amusing. But that's true of Theme Park, too. And that's much better.

I've been trying to work out exactly what it is about the game that wasn't quite right. Apart from the fact that it doesn't quite have the sparkle of a game bya big publisher (and who cares about sparkle, right kids?) it was hard to see what was wrong.

And then it struck me. It's about running a British seaside resort. What could be less glamorous or exciting? Seaside resorts are old fashioned and tacky, run-down and seedy. They have crazy golf games called 'Arnold Palmer's Golf World'. And roller coasters so rusty you cross the street for fear of being hit by loose passengers. Most of us don't even enjoy going to seaside resorts let alone wishing to run them.

I was forced to the conclusion that it's only of any interest if you live in Hilsea. Never mind the spelling, you can pretend it's about your town and run it just the way you want it to. They'll be your postcard stalls on your promenade and you'll be able to take an active part in your community without straying from the security of your Amiga keyboard.

For the rest of us, though, it's Theme Park only in a more squalid setting. And not as good. So to take account of this obvious divergence of opinion, Martin suggested that I write two bottom line boxes, one for Hilsea residents and one for the rest of us. So I did.

Hillsea Lido: The Seaside Management Simulator logo

Price: £12.99 Publisher: Vulcan Software 01705 670269

Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. Maybe not in this case.

A poor man's ThemePark some might say; and they'd be right. The idea behind both games is the same, you're given a stretch of land and left to use your business acumen to create a thriving resort. However the similarities end there, because Hillsea Lido lacks the superb graphics and sound of Bullfrog's ThemePark. But don't damn the game just yet, it's from the same stable as Valhalla and Timekeepers, and the latter was a minor hit last year.

It's Showtime
It really is all fun and games. To get your resort off to a start you need to book cabaret. There are five wacky acts to choose from for the show, which runs once a week. They're fun to watch and Vulcan have kindly provided an option to skip the show if you don't want to sit through it all again. This is handy because there are only so many times you can sit through Basil's Bendy Ballons. The idea though is that you earn enough cash to book a more expensive show. And the more expensive the show the higher price ticket and the more cash you get your hands on.

Without a show you won't survive, it is one of the main cash earners, and if you forget to book one, your outgoings such as staff payments etc. will quickly soak up your slush fund and you could find yourself in the spiralling vortex of debt. If you find this too difficult you can always load one of your earlier saves.

Advertising the show is also very important, otherwise no-one will turn up. You can do this by clicking on the little man with the billboard at the bottom of your screen. Other guns for hire include cleaners, lifeguards, a cash collector (invaluable for raking in your earnings) and wideboy security men to protect him while doing his rounds.

The overall aim of the game is to make the resort as nice as possible so you get lots of visitors who will pay to go to your shows. But the show is not the only way to make money in HL. There's a whole host money spinning items. You can start off small: a few deckchairs on the beach and some donkey rides and Punch and Judy shows for the kids.

Then as you make more money you can buy things such as dingy hire, water skis, speed boats and paragliding facilities. The same goes for the promenade. You can begin by putting a few small attractions here and there: fortune telling machines and teddy grabbers or you can put your business head one and aim to set up postcard stalls, ice-cream shops, coffee shops, fish and chips, all the usual stuff.

This is where the economics side comes in as you get to set the selling price of your goods and your staff's commission. You've got to balance it right. Too high a price and no-one will buy, too low a commission and your staff will be upset. Keeping the shops stocked is also important. A quick call to the warehouse will sort this out, though at times the availability of goods can be unpredictable.

How you decide to manage and plan your resort is up to you. As well as making money you've got to keep your visitors happy. Clicking on the group icon bottom right will quickly tell you what they want next for their beach or promenade. They don't like dirt; if you don't keep the maintenance up on your shops and keep the place clean they'll soon let you know using an annoying Valhalla style 'awwwh' cry.

As well as keeping things clean for the punters you also need to keep things clean for the health and safety inspector whose visit you are forewarned about by messages which flash intermittently across your screen. These updates let you know what's happening on the other screen. You need to impress the inspector otherwise you mightn't get those lovely cash awards at the end of the week for clean beach and promenade facilities. Other cash awards include length of resort and number of visitors.

HL is entertaining for a while, if you don't mind dodgy sprites and those annoying Lord Of Infinity noises. After a while though it becomes boring and ends up being too repetitive without any real reward. The novelty wears off and soon you really don't care whether the show is booked, the ice cream shop is empty or Joe's cafe is filthy. You just want to leave your little people in squalor.