Like lawyers, parking attendants and bin men before, estate agents have a canny ability to incur people's venom. Selling houses is seemingly one of those jobs most people consider redundant and, at a time when most houses are stuck on the market for months on end, sympathy for these beleaguered fellows is hard to come by.
Handy that Build-a-lot should come along now, then, acting as it does almost like a public relations tool for the entire industry. Never will you play a game where there is so much to do and so little time to do it in.
This is a race against time to build houses, transform whole city districts, and make a pretty penny from the real estate industry. If this bears any relation to the real profession, then estate agents should not only have our sympathy, but our envy too.
Taking you on a journey through eight different cities (each one split into separate levels with unique goals), Build-a-lot teaches you the basics of land management, schooling you on each element of development before cramming them all together and charging you with turning around the city streets within a certain amount of time.
Your basic duties involve buying land and building developments, gradually upgrading each property so the rent you take increases each month. Houses, estates, mansions, and even castles are all on offer, with the type of abodes you build depending on the objectives you're set for each level.
But residential developments aren't your only concern: banks, workshops and sawmills are also on offer from an early stage, each one offering a distinct, if pricey, benefit. That's because they help alleviate a particular stress placed upon your bank balance.
Offering to donate all of your interest from your bank account to charity, for instance, absolves you of any hefty tax bills on properties you own. Likewise, having a workshop in the town lowers the price of labourers, while putting up a sawmill cuts down the cost of materials.
It's all a question of balancing your income with the money you spend on building these amenities, and the huge houses that bring in the biggest rent. They all, in their own way, add to your profit in the long-run, but building them before your cashflow can cope will end your run in a level, essentially whipping your foundations from beneath you.
There's plenty of help along the way, with the mayor of each city keeping you updated on your goals, which usually revolving around earning a set amount or building specific homes. Advisors also help inform you of what tools you need to construct the buildings in your blueprints. It's a trade-off that allows Build-a-lot to get significantly trickier at speed without leaving you hanging loose.
Just when you feel like you're in control, the game throws another element into the mix. In a lesser package, that'd be something of a headache, but Build-a-lot is a game that pushes you to the limit, keeping you on edge right until the end.
Your sphere of influence is limited when compared to SimCity, but the game's defined nature lets play focus on just what the iPhone can achieve, rather than what it can't. Build-a-lot offers strict, steadfast barriers to work within, rather than the freedom offered by EA's technically impressive, if compact, PC port. There are no compromises or half measures here.
Instead, Build-a-lot is an education in portable brain training. Glu has reined in the range of the real estate simulator to offer a lesson in taxing the mind on the move. Fast as they come and full of variety within its four walls, this is one hot property we'd be happy to put a hefty deposit on.