You sunk my fishing boat.

Source // Wikipedia

The idea of utopia has been around for hundreds of years, as have the questions of whether they'd make for great living spaces in the first place. For hundreds of years philosophers have only had books on the subject, their questions going unanswered - until now. Or 35 years ago. Ish.

Utopia is a battle between two city-building Gods, if you want to call yourselves that, where the idea is to create the very definition of a perfect island habitat, and ultimately score more than the other guy.

It is our first multiplayer centric game of the list, at least to my recollection, which means calling in P2 and doing some research, because I've no idea what on Earth this game is.


Unfortunately, I have no Intellivision, nor copy of Utopia either, so while P2 sets up Machi Koro, I'm sat watching the video above, and I am confused an intrigued.

The game seems simple at first. You've a number of things that you can construct, each with their own method of increasing your score. They include the likes of crop fields to feed your islanders and forts that protect them from rebels.

You can generate income by getting lucky, essentially, in having rain clouds pass over your fields, or by constructing a fishing boat and hunting down schools of fish. If you're not paying attention however, your opponent can make a PT boat to defeat your fishing boats, or influence your own people to rebel against your creations.

Add to this a bunch of pirates and hurricanes, and you've got the makings for an interesting afternoon - if you happen to have read the manual. Twice.

Fun Times

Utopia has been called 'Civilization v0.5', and if you've not got any knowledge of Utopia, even a basic knowledge of the likes of Civilization and Sim City will give you an idea. In a time where home consoles brought the arcade into your living room, the Intellivision, with Utopia, gave players a chance for much longer, more thought provoking game of a different pace and experience.

Not only could your game last half an hour without ending, you could bring along a friend for all of that. Hell, you had to. Ignoring that, what you have in Utopia is the potential for the competitive long game. A quick victory in a fight is one thing, but to be thinking ahead, planning and reacting to what you can clearly see your opponent doing, and to know that there's time to turn the scores around (should you be losing) is another thing entirely. It's not a battle, but a war - one that has its aggressive pieces, but can still be won through smarts.

With only nine things to construct, your options aren't limited but refined. You can focus on what you need to get done in order to have the advantage over your opponent, and the effects are immediately visible thanks to the shared screen. It is something that has been lost since these kinds of games have gotten bigger and more complex. You don't stumble onto a utopia of someone else's making here, but watch it grow, hopefully slower than yours does.

You both keep your eyes on each other, and on the roaming pirates, and stay on alert for hurricanes, and watch the paths of the rain clouds, and your opponents cursor, all so that you stay even just a single step ahead on the road to a successful utopia.

Final Word

At least that's how I imagine it all panning out, with only a video and Wikipedia to go on. With many more city builders and real time strategy games to come, it'll be nice to compare them to what I've seen of Utopia, having not come across it before.

I think everyone has an innate yearning to create, so to couple that with our basic animal instincts to destroy was probably going to be a winner in some form or another. In the form of Utopia, it looks like a winner indeed. Probably a difficult to really grasp winner, where it helps having two similarly knowledgeable players, but still an entertaining time to be had.

Fun Facts

The manual for the game suggests that players can work together in order to keep pirates at bay by both building a PT boat and anchoring them where the pirates appear. Spawn camping, essentially.

Utopia, developed by Don Daglow, first released in 1981.
Version watched: Xbox 360 Game Room.