Bootlegger, pretty cool, I just wish it had more

Catamount, the guys who put together Dope Wars, then promptly renamed it to Candy Wars after Apple rejected them, also have a fun little game called Bootlegger which I’ve been playing recently. Strangely, the idea of gunning down cops, hiring thugs, opening Speakeasies and bootlegging liquor doesn’t seem to upset Apple’s sensibilities at all. But I digress.

There are a lot of similarities between Bootlegger and the old Dope Wars game. You move from city to city, buying low, selling high and avoiding the cops. An added element is the "thugs" you can hire into your gang so you can overtake cities and open Speakeasies. Each new Speakeasy gives you $5,000 a week and you have to overtake, read as have a shootout with the local crimeboss. Pretty neat idea actually.

Additionally, you buy larger vehicles to transport the liquor. You move from a car, to a truck, to the ultimate – the rum runner. Again, a really nice upgrade to the standard few spaces you get in your pockets within Dope Wars. You can actually amass 1,000,000 spaces for transporting booze across state lines. Once you get moving you can build up some serious wealth.

But that’s also where things get a little repetitive. The 52 week game is way too short to actually build up anything with. Bootlegger offers a 14 year option which sounds great and for awhile it’s wickedly fun. However, it’s pretty easy to build up wealth, hire thugs and then takeover a city to build your Speakeasies. It’s a lot of fun getting to this point, but once you hire a couple hundred thugs, takeover New York and reach the max of a million spaces for liquor there isn’t much more to do. It’s great building up your empire, but then you can’t do much with it. You sort of stagnate. There should be no limit to my wealth and power!

There is so much more that could be rolled into Bootlegger. Clearly more spaces so you can make insane amounts of cash would be fun. Hostile takeovers of your territories by rivals would be neat. Once you conquer NY with 100 thugs they don’t serve much purpose and just sit there.

Ironically, bootlegging, Al Capone and Chicago are synonymous with each other, but Chicago isn’t a city you can actually visit in the game. It would be interesting that one you conquer all the other cities you have to conquer Chicago with a boatload of cash to bribe officials, hundreds of thugs and lots of mob shootouts. I think it would be cool anyway.

If you wanted to go "all in" you could use Bootlegger as a launch point for a pretty impressive Sim. However, for what it is and for $0.99 the game is still fun. Right now the replay value is a little light, but considering you get a 14 year career to work with, it’ll you take you quite awhile just to finish a single game. A couple hours of entertainment for $0.99 is nothing to be distressed about. A bottle of Mountain Dew wouldn’t last as long.

It’s a fun distraction and you can’t beat the price. Plus, once you’re done you can jump over to Candy Wars, rename the products and have some fun with that one.

I’d love to see them combine the elements from both their games, make tons of vehicles you can keep stockpiling, add a "career" or unlimited mode so you can just keep playing, and add more threats like having to pay off judges, losing shipments, sinking boats, being raided, being investigated and plenty of other elements. But oh well, that’s just my wishful thinking. Even as it is, the game is pretty cool.

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