Tropico is the first game in this construction and management video game series. It was developed by PopTop Software and Feral Interactive, and published in 2001 by Gathering of Developers, MacSoft, and Feral Interactive. Tropico puts the player in the place of the ruler of a Caribbean island, named El Presidente, in the 1950’s during the Cold War.
The gameplay in Tropico is focused on politically unstable countries and topics like totalitarianism, electoral fraud, powerful company’s inventions, and the super powers of the Cold War, but it still includes a good amount of humor.
The main goal of the players in Tropico is to remain in power of the island. If the people living on the island dislike the leader and their actions they are able to impeach him and have him removed from office. There are various individual groups and factions that may have the power to put an end to or interrupt the rule of El Presidente.
There are characters who act as rebels in Tropico and they can also end the players rule by destroying the army and taking over the presidential palace. The player needs to also be aware of their army’s feelings because if they become dissatisfied they are allowed to call for a coup d’état.
If any of the super powers of the Cold War become upset with the ruling tactics of the player, they will intervene and attempt to overthrow the government. The player will find that in Tropico, there are two paths to succeeding at remaining in power; to make the people of the nation happy by satisfying their needs along with the political groups concerns, or set up and enforce a totalitarian dictatorship while carefully managing the army.
Tropico features a customizable island map where the player can alter different aspects of the terrain to their liking. The island can be changed, for example, by its size and steepness. Tropico also offers a setting where the player can customize the difficulty level of the game by changing the political and economic difficulties.
The players of Tropico are able to announce different governmental laws. Some of the laws will require them to have certain buildings and available funding. The effects of these laws vary from pleasing one of the super powers with a statement of praise, to creating martial law or allowing the citizens a tax break. The player can use the edicts to strategically complement their economic, military, social and political decisions. For example, passing a “tax cut” edict immediately before an election is much more likely to get you re-elected.
Tropico keeps a score for the player all the way to the end of the game. The players score depends on multiple things, such as the happiness of the nation’s citizens, the state of the island’s economy, the amount of money the player has available for his retirement, and the level of difficulty the player chose at the beginning of the game.
There are three different game modes in which Tropico can be played: scenario, campaign, and custom game map. The Scenario mode includes a set of rules and goals that cannot be changed. These predetermined objectives are what must be accomplished in order for the player to win the game. There are a number of scenarios that each have a specific level of difficulty. Scenario levels are usually of higher difficulty compared to the levels of a custom map game.
The campaign game mode isn’t available until the Tropico 3 along with the instalments following that game. The custom game mode is offered in Tropico and it allows a majority of the game conditions to be set by the player at the beginning.
The things the player can customize are the island’s terrains (i.e. elevation, vegetation, the islands water coverage,) and the chance of something random occurring during the events of the game, such as natural disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes. The player will also have control over the number of in-game years the game will go on for and what the player must accomplish in order to win (e.g. a certain level of happiness, or an army of a certain size).