Tropico Harder

After my last post about the relaxing influence of the old game Tropico upon my weary soul, it got me thinking. What would this same game be like if I selected all of the hardest options? I decided to wait for a day where I didn’t NEED to relax — a day without anxiety, stress, or tension.

That day of course never came and likely never will, so I decided to just go for it today, on a day where I am certainly tense and not unlike a tightly wound metal string. Tighter and tighter until I snap! But not yet. I am not snapping yet. So, I will Tropico again but this time I’m gonna Tropico so hard!!

The Tropico game title screen with "harder" written in red and dripping blood.

My Island, Tropico

I find myself on a jagged rock in the sea. I am a stern militarist, and I find myself in power because of a military coup that I ruthlessly staged. Unfallible, I alone am the leader this tropical rock needs, for its own good. No minerals, little vegetation, and steep hills like you wouldn’t believe, this is my home.

Screencaps of option screens -- this one shows low vegetation, low minerals, low population, and high water coverage. The elevation is as high as possible. The cross section of the island looks like a craggy mountaintop jutting out of the sea.

I have chosen to live in a place where random events will devastate my people with sublime regularity. My economy is that of a hole designated for excrement, and the people are angry. They are as angry as they can get! I will hopefully reign for ten years. That is my goal.

Year One, 1950

Welcome to splendor. Welcome to paradise. My island has thirty people, three corn farms, a teamsters office, construction office, and a dock. There are like ten people in the work force. I haven’t yet found the place that tells me the ages of the populace, so I am going to assume that there are just twenty babies and children making the most of their childhoods, and not just a bunch of poors who think they are too good to harvest corn.

A screencapture of a far away view of a mountainous Tropico Island.
Maybe I will retire here some day. There, in that palace.

I’ve told them to get to building a coffee plantation: the only crop that might succeed. I have also instructed that a clinic be built. All people deserve free and easily accessible health care in some form or another! Please anticipate the building on them to be finished in three years or more.

Gameplay screencap showing the steep mountainsides with little yellow buildings meant for the future. Here, it is a farm and a clinic.

And that pretty much wipes out my money for the year! Will year two contain a church, or a rebellion?

Year Two, 1951

The maritime industry went on strike so now I can’t get any ships in! Or out, I guess. That’s okay though, because even though the coffee plantation now exists, it hasn’t attracted any farmers! I might have to raise the pay one dollar in order to entice anyone to show up there. I guess it is a pretty steep climb from the residential district, and they’d rather shuck corn than walk what is probably a sheer vertical mile.

Screencapture of gameplay. This is a little cluster of shacks on a slightly less vertical part of the island, by the beach.
Lovely beach side properties, feel that warm ocean breeze.

I saw fit to build a church next, assuming these laborers to be of the religious persuasion. I hope it makes them happy because I am now over $300 in the hole. I chose that rather than a tenement house because we live in the tropics. Their shacks are enough. Look at them! They’re lovely!

Year Three, 1952

My clinic is built and somehow I had a college-educated male person (two actually) already living on the island for some reason. This is a relief because I could not afford to have compelled an immigrant to move here to fulfill the role.

Screencap of the clinic right on the edge of a cliff.
Enjoy free health care in this rickety clinic clinging to the edge of a cliff.

These college-educated folk must gone out into the modern world for education and then run back here because it was overwhelming. Or maybe they returned because they have a love of this simple life. At any rate, a man who had been working at a corn farm became the people’s only doctor.

A little farmer appears to be planting small coffee plants in this screencap.
Plant that coffee, Consuela! Great job!

Very little has happened in the third year in paradise; I’m still losing money and the coffee farmer has finally started to plant a few shrubs. The maritime strike has ended, so maybe we can begin exporting. Everyone, I honestly expected more strife and chaos I apologize that this has become El Presidente Amandollio’s Dry Economic Report. But we roll with the punches we are given, even the mild punches that are unexciting to witness.

Year Four, 1953

Third year of building the church… I eagerly look forward to when I can afford to begin building a goat farm, which will probably be finished after I am forced to step down in six years.

Screencap of Tropico showing a little flat outcropping of land.
The flattest surface on this whole island! Home to the eventual goat farm.

Year Five, 1954

July 1954, the church is finally open, teetering on the edge of a dangerous cliff. Apparently priests have to be high school educated males — I think I have a few, but am unsure if any have priest clothes to wear.

A screencap of the church, clinging to the edge of a cliff.
This is the free clinic for the soul.

Also, as I was looking for shady ways for my brave island nation to escape this national debt (I never found any), I was informed that a communist among my people has been complaining that I haven’t been providing them with adequate shelter. What do these people want? They live on beaches! I could rent those shacks out if I only had the tourism board up and running!

Screencap of me trying to place a large tenement structure but it's all red because I have no funds.
You see my predicament, but my people just won’t believe me.

I guess I have to forget the goat farm in order to build this tenement building. How can I afford the $4000 on this luxurious, unnecessary building when I am almost $3000 in debt? What’s an el Presidente gotta do?

Year Six, 1955

I just blasted through this year because no one could afford to build anything, anyway. Although, I did learn how to fire people from their jobs! Goodbye, idle construction workers! Get to making that coffee! I want exports!

screencap of a little woman walking into a shack. She has fire over her head. The text has been added to say "angry" in red.
Yeah, yeah. Me, too.

Aside from that, I was threatened by various factions on my island who are unhappy. Since we are in the middle of the ocean, they can’t just love it or leave it. Coincidentally, I learned that it costs money to imprison, intimidate, and eliminate my enemies. But I have my eye on you, Ignacia Santiago.

Year Seven, 1956

Oh. The United States has taken an interest in my small island. It seems that not even a place with a population of 45 people is beneath the meddling of that paragon of democracy. It seems that they don’t think we love liberty enough. We threaten them by existing, so now in May of 1956, they have brought a warship of some kind into our humble bay.

This combination screencap shows a notice that says, "The United States is deeply concerned that Tropico appears to be taking a belligerent anti-U.S. stance. The American president has been heard to say that if the current Tropican leader doesn't bend towards the will of the Americans, the Americans will find a new Tropican leader who will.

An American gunboat has been sighted cruising towards Tropico."

The lower half of the image shows a gunboat so far into the bar that the front part of it seems  to be jammed into a cliffside.
Preposterous. Eisenhower, get better hobbies.

“Belligerent anti-U.S. stance” apparently includes “you’re so poor and struggling so much that you haven’t said anything nice about us or sent us gifts.” What a diva! What a bully! How insecure must a country be to threaten a tiny country like mine! Look at them sitting there, running aground with threatening posturing. Ugh.

Year Eight, 1957

I had just been watching our American guest spinning in the bay all year, poised to hit my screen capture button should they open fire on my innocent and unarmed citizens. But then! A hurricane! Hide! I hope my nine structures won’t be terribly damaged!

Far zoom out scene of the island with a whole lot of cloud cover.
[cute little windy noises]

¡Qué lástima! My coffee plantation, our barest glimmer of hope, was the only thing that was not spared by the caprices of Mother Nature in a mood. It has been reduced to rubble and bathtubs that are apparently crucial elements of coffee production.

screencap of building rubble that used to be a farm. There are at least two bathtubs in view.
The American ship survived just fine, by the way.

Year Nine, 1958

It’s the beginning of the end. My trusty aide-de-camp has informed me that my people are calling for an election next year. As I mentioned before, I am a strong militarist and if the mysterious dependence on money didn’t exist, or if “economics” had been any skill I possess, I would have already had dungeons and military bases built, trained fanatical soldiers, and thrown every unhappy, ungrateful citizen into solitary confinement!

Screencap showing the All Residents -- Happiness chart, where it actually has every individual illustrated in a group. Five children and the doctor are in the "content" group versus like forty of the rest of the residents in the "unhappy" group, including all the babies!
Children and doctors love me! Workers and babies hate me.

Alas, all I can do is sit here, still watching that U.S. interloper in my bay spinning circles. My aide-de-camp further tells me that my people starve, that I should use the one thousand dollars in charity that I was given from the world to help rebuild the town, maybe to build a market.

But it only made me go from seven thousand dollars in debt to six thousand!

“Starve.” Let them starve! Let them eat cake! I will dwell here in my palace, watching the circles of this outrageous warship.

Screencap collage from the game. A tiny figure lies still, outside of the door of a corrugated metal hovel. His name is Ruben Fuentes, age 5. Died from starvation. Woops.
I can’t help but feel slightly responsible.

Year Ten, 1959

The people are angrier, but the gunboat has been withdrawn from menacing me in this beautiful springtime. My last springtime. When the time comes to authorize an election, I have chosen to live in my preferred delusions. The chart is wrong. They must love me! I’d make it a law, but that probably costs money too.

This is a screencap of a letter explaining that my people are complaining about the lack of elections. I have a choice between

1. Alright, we will have elections a year from today, or

2. My people love me. There is no need to waste time with elections.

My arrow hovers over that second option.

Oh but some good news! The coffee exports have increased! We can finally make back some money! Too bad about that hurricane eliminating our coffee crop.

Screencap game image of bare ground, a man standing, and a shack in the distance.
Never forget our coffee plantation.

Then I retired from office with no issue.


I certainly expected there to be more unrest, but I guess everyone was so impoverished and overworked that they couldn’t organize or give me any troubles. Maybe it takes longer than ten years to create the kind of violent change I deserved?

I am so used to playing with the easiest economy setting that I essentially have unlimited funds within the first few years. I can say for sure that limited funds makes for limited funs. I was able to build, what, three things?

The final screencap of my score, which was negative 1,962. It congratulated me for clinging to power for ten years.
Still an accomplishment. One for the record books!

Hardest Possible Settings: 1/10 will not attempt again.

At least the music was still wonderful.

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