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Have you ever looked through your television magazine and thought “No! Now I’ve got 45 stations to recieve and all only show rubbish!” I guess, all of us have. The next time you get this thought, here is the alternative for you: built your own TV-program!
Mad TV is one of the hardest, but also funniest business management simulations I’ve ever seen. You are Archie, a nerd and TV junky, stumbling upon the love of your life in front of your TV set. The problem is, that the girl is on the other side of the screen. Archie falls so deeply in love with this blonde woman called Betty, that he can’t resist to jump into his car and hurry to propose to marry her. Betty is the star of the ugliest television station ever, Mad TV. Just as you arrive at the station, someone is thrown out of the window, and on your way to her office you run across some very stressed manager looking for a new program director. This is your chance to get in contact with Betty! And finally to get a new job...
What sounds like a somewhat plain story, is actually the background of a really tough simulation of TV business. Your goal is to raise your viewing statistics by all means. This is the only way to earn some money and to be able to buy all these expensive gifts for Betty in order to outtake your rivals. At the beginning of the game, you are given a small credit by your boss, which enables you to buy a couple of news and programmes. Your only income results from advertisments.
The center of your activities is, as in most business simulations, your office. Here you find your computer, which is the most important device in the whole game, as the TV programs are managed from here. You may plan 2 days in advance, each day from 18 o‘ clock to midnight. The planning itself is rather easy. Every hour begins with the news, followed by some program and finally an advertisement. However, filling this span of time with attractive content is not so easy.
In order to ready some content, you have to visit several places all over the building. First, there is the news agency, which is located next to your office. There are three types of news: political, show-business and sundry. Each type has a different provider, which can be subscribed (for some money of course). The news themselves cost money either. They can be selected, then news are produced. To get some program, you’ve got various options at hand. The most important is the movie agency, where all sorts of movies can be bought. Another one is to produce shows, TV-series etc. in your own studio. To do this, you need quite a lot of money, as you have to buy scripts, actors, background scenery and the studio. But it’s worth the effort, as some of these shows may become quite popular. At the beginning of the game, my advice is to sell your studio, as the rental is very expensive. The advertising agency provides, well, advertisements and is your only source of income. Here you can get contracts from one up to ten and more spots, which must be shown in a defined range of time with defined viewing stats. Sometimes even a special movie genre is wanted. As advertisement is a hard business, there are only two possible results: either you fulfill the contract, then everything is fine and you’ll receive your payment, or you don’t and have to pay a penalty. You will find out soon, that it is very hard to even get a positive bilance sheet, so plan your advertisements carefully.
When Rainbow Arts released Mad TV in 1991, it was not only unique, but also had some wonderful VGA graphics and an astonishing soundtrack. The game is packed full of humor and funny animations to watch, which will shorten the time, after you’ve got your program settled. There are many crazy offices, which can be visited, such as the bio-controlled bio-dynamic monster building (tell you what?). And last but not least it has a porter, who is always eager to have a short talk about his boring day. Altogether I rate this game with 4, as it has great graphiics and sounds and is – much more important – very funny and addictive to play, when you’ve found out the basics. So take a trip into the magic world of television business and be the first director who is able to get a really good program running!