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Two Point Campus Discussion (Nintendo Switch) [game]
Two Point Campus on the Switch
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05/28/23, 18:49  
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The Switch has turned out to be a pretty great place for strategy and management games of all sorts. Sure, some of the more modern ones that rely heavily on their graphical presentation often seem inferior to versions on competing platforms, but the rest have benefitted from the ability to take your creations with you on the go, and have looked pretty alright at the same time. Two Point Campus is definitely in the latter group.

Just like Two Point Hospital before it, Two Point Campus is a management sim made by ex-Bullfrog people that...no, no, not like that. They were always homo sapiens as far as I know. They used to work for Bullfrog Productions, the studio behind Theme Park and Theme Hospital, is what I'm saying. While the Theme Park torch was carried into the modern day by games like Rollercoaster Tycoon and Planet Coaster, the hospital counterpart never really spawned a successful natural successor, so in 2018 the brand new studio Two Point Studios, headed up by former Bullfrog members and ex-Lionhead (no, goddamnit, not like that!) devs Mark Webley and Gary Carr, brought Two Point Hospital into the world.

Gary Carr, game developer.

Two Point Hospital was a critical and commercial success, marrying the old 90's approach to management simulation with modern gameplay depth and quality of life additions, and now Two Point Campus is picking up where that game left off. It's got all the charm, humor and familiar gameplay of its predecessor, but it's also got more content, more variety, more depth and better overall balance. It also runs better on the Switch.

For those entirely unfamiliar with the concept, Two Point Campus is a classic business management simulation. You assume the role of CEO of a company building and managing university campuses, in order to turn a profit. While there is a sandbox mode, the main attraction of the game is a career mode consisting of a large number of scenarios with different tasks and challenges that need to be dealt with in order to move on. You'll design and build campuses, hire and appoint staff members, organize events and care for the students that sign up.

Two Point Campus's procedural generation does a good job of creating a diverse student body. Ironically they all share the same body type, though.

There's a wide variety of courses that you can offer, and different courses attract different types of procedurally generated students, based on their personalities. The Internet History course will attract a bunch of socially awkward geek types, whereas the Countercultural Studies is bound to draw in some rebellious, leather jacket wearing youths, for instance. The various social groups help make your campus seem interesting and alive, but they can also affect gameplay. Having cheerleaders around can help motivate other students, and spy students can sometimes discover secret information that will help further your research projects, just to name a couple. In every facet of the game, there is this type of depth to be had, but it's never crammed down your throat. If you're content with just setting up the courses and hiring the staff, you can do that, but if you want to micromanage a student's progress by arranging private tuition, try to maximize the amount of profit you get out of your ramen stand or decide what type of clothes your librarian should wear, you can totally do that too.

Unlike Two Point Hospital, Two Point Campus is a much more varied and flexible experience. In Two Point Hospital it almost always came down to providing treatment X for illness Y, and while there are similar elements in Campus, the dynamic is vastly different for a few reasons. First of all, when a patient has received treatment, they will leave. A student however, will stick around for a number of semesters, and you will get to follow their progress on both an academic and a social level. Merely having the right course and a decent teacher isn't always enough for your student to truly succeed. Are the dorms comfy and clean? Are the classrooms stimulating? Is there entertainment to be had? Can students socialize? Can you provide therapy if they get depressed? The game gets real in a number of ways, but it never loses its lighthearted nature.

These two knights have found each other, and are now using the heart shaped bed for its intended purpose. Jumping trumps humping in Two Point County.

Two Point Studios' sense of humor is very, very British. Not in the transphobic way, thankfully, but in that charmingly silly yet dry way, where people can be called Laura Cesspool or Roderick Cushion, and where night school is actually Knight school, for people who want to learn how to joust properly. The soundtrack is presented as songs playing on the radio, interspersed with a number of ridiculous DJ personalities, like the delightfully bitter Sir Nigel Bicklesworth who has no respect whatsoever for his listeners, for his own show or society in general. It's seldom laugh-out-loud funny, but it's often chuckle inducing and always very cozy in all its stupid glory.

Couldn't find a good example of the DJ's or the intercom lady, but here's a catchy song by my favourite Two Point County band instead.

There's honestly not a lot to fault here. The graphics run at a lower resolution than on competing platforms, polygon counts have decreased slightly, real time shadows are replaced with basic circle shadows, but thanks to the game's cartoony art style, it's not a massive setback. The framerate drops in the bigger and busier campuses are a bigger issue, but they don't really affect the gameplay, and I can put up with them as a tradeoff for being able to carry my campuses with me wherever I go. The game controls well too, even without a mouse and keyboard, thanks to a well designed UI and clever use of button shortcuts. It's a damn fine management sim with lots of content, and it's getting both paid and free DLC every now and then as well. Switch version or not, Two Point Campus deserves to be played.
05/28/23, 18:49   
Edited: 05/28/23, 21:30
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