Developer: Kount
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

I find myself a bit overly cautious when any game that isn’t an obvious educational title professes that it is going to teach me something. My caution intensifies, tempered with vague hopeful optimism, when I am informed that the topic of Fraud Tycoon is one as serious as credit card fraud. I can begin to see the outlines of a potentially cool simulation title drawing themselves before my eyes – one where I have to use electronic tricks, misdirection, and guile to bilk innocent citizens of their hard-earned dollars. And then the whole mess collapses and dissolves into a groan and an eyeroll when I see that the tool that the developers have chosen to educate me with is a poorly executed clone of a nearly 15 year old Nintendo game. Cue the sad trombone riff from The Price is Right here.

Fraud TycoonFraud TycoonYes, I am still struggling to figure out how exactly online fraud protection service Kount expects a re-skinned version of Dr. Mario and some vague allusions to virtual currencies and real-world businesses to provide any sort of useful education on the topic at hand. But even if we strip away the high-minded pretense of this free-to-play promotional tool, what remains of Fraud Tycoon isn’t exactly compelling in any way either.

For those who need a recap of the gameplay of this old Nintendo chestnut, players match up different colored pills credit cards on top of like-colored viruses consumers in order to cure them steal their money. The differences come in that before each level, players have to purchase a stack of stolen credit cards, which provides the number of dropping pieces they have to complete the level with, with any unused cards carrying over to successive levels. There are also power-ups that can be purchased, such as gold credit cards that serve as wild cards, matching whatever they’re placed against.

Fraud TycoonFraud TycoonThe faux-retro graphics don’t feel reverent or classically inspired in the least, but rather just quick and bland – as if they tried to get this pushed out as quickly as possible and found pseudo-8 bit to be the quickest means to an end. Also, despite having an options setting to toggle sensitivity between Tablet and Phone settings, I found the controls to be wobbly and unresponsive, often frequently sliding a piece too far or not far enough.

I don’t begrudge companies using free games as promotional tools, but if you’re trying to claim to educate people or, less altruistically, get them interested in using your services, this is NOT the way to go about it. Everything about Fraud Tycoon feels weary, uninspired, and flat. The whole thing would scream “meh” if it but had the energy to do so.


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