Space Station Tycoon - first hands-on

We thought we had this whimsical SimCity-in-space game's number before we even sat down to play it. We'd played quite a bit of its they-hope-we-don't-mention-it forerunner, Outpost Kaloki X on Xbox 360 and were certain that Space Station Tycoon was just a clone of it. We were only partly right; this is a very similar title from the same developer, but it's very heavily evolved and expanded. We didn't exactly expect the Jetsons and get a new season of Firefly - dammit - but we were pleasantly impressed with how different it was.

Space Station Tycoon casts you as a young fellow named Shawn who, in one of those only-in-a-game twists, continually finds himself designing the lighthearted sci-fi equivalent a multi-gajillion-dollar outer space strip-mall, despite the fact that he's completely unqualified. Heck, his brother Nash - whom we'll admit right now seems kind of cooler than Shawn. Kind of a lot, in fact - is a pirate. Isn't that like Steve Wynn showing up in the next Ocean's Eleven movie and asking George Clooney's sister to design a casino for him?

Whatever. The point is, you've got the job, so you need to do it. Basically, each space station starts out as a flat, circular platform floating in space, to which to attach different items: power plants, tourist attractions, restaurants, scientific research centers, and so on, like the spokes of a wagon wheel.