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"It is yet another beautiful day in Tropico! The sun is shining bright and the water is warm! If you aren't involved in any back-breaking labor activities, then grab a swimsuit and come to the beach!"
Juanito, Tropico 3

A Real Time Strategy Simulation Game like a cross between Sim City and The Settlers, Tropico puts the player in the role of the newly installed president of a Caribbean island, starting in 1950.

The player is responsible for developing the island through tourism and exports, satisfying the citizens' needs, staying in power, and embezzling funds from the treasury. At the end of a typical game, the final score is determined based on the overall happiness of the islanders, the size of the island's treasury, and the size of the President's Swiss Bank Account.

As well as meters for the typical basic needs such as food, housing and entertainment, each citizen has an affiliation with a political faction, which links their respect for the President to the happiness of the faction's leader and how well the faction's goals are being met. The factions are as follows:

  • Communists: Mostly the lower working class citizens of the country. Like to see full employment, everyone with a roof over his or her head, universal healthcare, and low income disparity. Preferred by uneducated, low paid workers, making it one of the larger factions on the island, and important to keep happy unless you want a peasant's revolt or the USSR to invade your island. Annoying the Communists also reduces the amount of aid the player can expect to receive from the Soviet Union.
  • Capitalists: The middle and upper class citizens of Tropico. Like to see luxurious housing, upscale entertainment, and a growing, advance economy. Curiously don't mind that the economy is entirely state-controlled [1] Preferred by the more educated, wealthier workers who can be difficult to replace if they get upset - the Capitalist faction also influences American opinion, valuable for keeping wealthy US tourists flocking to your beaches, and US Marines away.
  • Religious: The conservative Catholic citizens on your island. Like churches and cathedrals, a 'virtuous' and 'pious' society (no night clubs, pubs, casinos, or cabarets), and for everyone to have a high religion satisfaction rating. Similar in size to the Communists, but much harder to pacify. Oppose more 'progressive' actions such as allowing gay marriage in your country and supports more conservative edicts such as prohibition and contraception ban. As a result, they are often at odds with the Capitalist and the Intellectuals. Strong religious support is necessary for special actions like a Papal Visit or the Book BBQ.
  • Intellectuals: The highly educated elites of Tropico. Like lots of educational buildings, high liberty ratings, and a progressive society. Generally a small faction, but like the Capitalists, many of their members are highly skilled and educated workers who can be difficult to replace if you lose their support.
  • Militarists: The soldiers and police of the island. Like the country to have a strong military, good treatment and wages for the soldiers, and an 'orderly' society (the average safety happiness higher then the liberty rating) . This puts them at odds with the Intellectual who prefer more freedom and less military presence. Preferred by the island's soldiers and policemen, whom a president would really prefer to have on his side in the event of a rebellion. High militarist support is needed for special actions like declaring Martial Law or conscription. Potentially the most dangerous faction due to their ability to start a coup if their respect for you drops too low.
  • Environmentalist: Mostly members from the Intellectuals faction. Concerned about the natural beauty and pollution scores for the island, and oppose the presence of polluting industries such as logging or oil. An extremely small faction, but given the way environmental damage works, very hard to win back once they have been upset.

Tropico, released on 2001, recieved an expansion on 2002, Paradise Island, centered on new tourist elements that was later bundled together with the game as Tropico: Mucho Macho Edition.

Tropico was followed by a sequel released on 2003 called Tropico: Pirate Isle, which took the same basic gameplay and transported it to a pirate setting with an economy based on raiding and slave captive worker labor. Instead of balancing between the US and the USSR, the player must now deal with Britain, France, and Spain. You can foster wars between them, receive patronages, and accept letters of marque.

A third title in the series was released in the Autumn of '09, with the setting returning to the Cold War. Tropico 3 retains the original's factions, and adds a seventh.

  • Nationalists: A faction consist of citizens born in Tropico only. Value Tropico's independence from the major powers and from international aid organizations. Anti-immigration, and pro-local industry.

Absolute Power, the expansion for Tropico 3, added yet another faction.

A fourth installment in the series was released in August 2011. The superpowers are now USA, USSR, EU, China and the Middle East. There are more disasters, such as tornadoes and oil spills. The PC version offers Twitter and Facebook connectivity.

Not to be confused with Trope Co.


Tropes Featured:

  • The Alcoholic:
    • Reverend Esteban, speaker for the Religious faction in Tropico 4. He considers rum to be God's gift to Tropico, and would prefer to conduct his sermons in a bar rather than a church. Seems to be at odds with most of his followers, but reluctantly goes along with their wishes anyway. For example, he might approach El Presidente claiming that God told him to ask for a prohibition on alcohol, then if it is implimented call the radio station the next day as an anonymous "concerned citizen" to protest the very policy he asked for.
    • This is also one of the traits your Avatar can get, which brings a number of negative effects, but boosts relations with the USSR.
  • Alliance Meter: The standing of El Presidente among the island's factions is shown in the ledger, in percentage figures -- text in the fist game -- and with the detailed issues that influence their current opinion.
  • Alternate History: The USSR stays together after 1990, and EU exists in its present form already in the 1950s.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name:
    • "El Diablo," the speaker for the Nationalists in 4, is a rather foul skin-headed fellow who asks you to do unpleasant things like executing immigrants.
    • The player can make their own little nationalistic dictatorship, with secret police controlling communications and schools indoctrinating children with El Presidente's own book of dogma.
  • Announcer Chatter: DJ Juanito of Tropico News Today.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Thoroughly averted.
    • Your citizens would start a demostration if their respect for you is low and their life conditions are poor, attracting the attention of nearby walkers. If things don't improve they may emigrate to greener pastures, or become rebels and eventually attack your buildings or your palace. Unhappy faction leaders may trigger disaster events, including Nationalist Riots and Military Coups, and having too many very unhappy citizens might trigger a general uprising. If your palace is destroyed by any of these events, Game Over Man.
    • If the citizens witness an execution their respect for you will fall considerably, and the family of the victim will resent you forever.
  • Arab Oil Sheikh: The representative of the Middle East faction in 4. Like everything else in the game, this trope is Played for Laughs: he has several wives and missions from him will reward you a camel (his second-best in fact!) in addition to cash.
  • Arms Dealer: In Tropico 3, you can now build weapons for export using iron you've mined. Weapons are in fact one of the most profitable exports in the game (only jewelry sells for more) but unless you only sell handguns (lower production rate), this hurts your reputation with the US and the USSR. Not because you are a threat to peace, but a threat to the arms industry by producing cheap weapons.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Tropicans are, on the one hand, fairly smart about doing their jobs, handling most of their work automatically. On the other hand, they can be very dumb about doing those same jobs. When every builder on your island is drunk, every teamster is visiting a cabaret, and every doctor is in church waiting on a priest to show up (and the priests are visiting the restaurants!) sometimes work can grind to a halt. Tropicans sometimes forget to visit the farms or markets to get food, teamsters let highly valuable processed goods languish in the factories, factory workers can leave buildings unmanned for months at a time, dock workers can be halfway across the island when the cargo ship arrives and not get to the dock in time to load it, and construction workers will let unfinished buildings sit there for years.
    • They also tend to be less than efficient at choosing a building to satsify a Need at, even in 4; tourists will frequently ignore entertainment buildings set up in your nice, pristine, carefully-crafted touristy area, cross to the other side of the island on FOOT, to go to an exact duplicate of the building in your considerably more crappy area for Tropicans, and then complain about all the shacks and tenements and industrial buildings being ugly.
    • Lampshaded in one of Tropico 4 radio announcements.
  • Ascended Extra: Penultimo, your guide through the tutorial in Tropico 3, becomes one of your recurring advisors and the new host of TNT in 4.
  • A-Team Firing:
  • Ass in Ambassador:
    • Ambassador Crane, the American diplomat, in 4 is a fairly unpleasant man, who constantly makes not-too-subtle threats of bringing the full might of the US Military down upon you, if you don't try to please him.
    • The Chinese ambassador weirdly inverts this. He is always overly polite. If your relationship with China is poor, he says over the radio that "the trade embargo is not a sign of hostility between us. Rather, take it as a promise that from now on, relations can only improve!"
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • One of the possible traits for your avatar is "War Hero", which makes him/her much stronger in combat. Even without it though, your avatar can still fight better than the average soldier, even though the soldiers have M-16 assault rifles and you have a pistol.
    • Inverted when you pick "Coward" as flaw, which makes your avatar fight worse, your soldiers twice as likely to flee in combat and lowers your respect among the militaristic faction. Before Tropico 4, it's mandatory to choose two flaws, and "Coward" is one of the less harmful ones as long as your rule doesn't raise armed opposition. This trait and "War Hero" are logically mutually exclusive.
  • Awesome but Impractical: High-class tourists are a fantastic moneymaker. Unfortunately, earning enough money to build the infrastructure needed to attract them (especially the airport) usually requires you to first build the sort of industrial economy that they hate.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: So build the polluting, messy industries on one side of the island and the tourist traps on the scenic, pastoral side.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • If you loss too much respect from the Intellectuals or outright outlaw their entire faction, they will take up arms and revolt against you just like anyone else would.
    • You can be one yourself by having 'War hero' as your background and 'Scholarly' as one of your traits, or 'Professor' as your background and 'Athletic' as one of your traits.
  • Balcony Speech: Since the third instalment your character can deliver one from the palace. It raises your standing among the people gathered to hear it.
  • Banana Republic: A common state for early-game islands - Tropico 3 mentions the trope by name, and some islands may literally rely on banana exports. The Capitalists appreciate an economically advanced Tropico, with strong industrial and tourists sectors, and Tropico 4's expansion allows late-game diversification into a finance- and service-based economy.
  • Black Comedy: The entire game. You see, it's a Cold War. You're the dictator of a Banana Republic, and you're ultimately a pawn in a much larger game between the US and the USSR. Your people aren't exactly cooperative, nor they are very bright. You can't stay in power (for long) lest you Kick the Dog on regular basis. This culminates when you sell your island to the US to test nuclear bombs: your Announcer Chatter will say that "according to the scientists, the big shiny mushroom is harmless, and it's good for the skin tone", your history involves the worst in people (Being the only true graduate of every Harvard Grad in your class, where you have to be a pathetic banana republic dictator, your buddies go on to be POTUS). Can cross into outright Gallows Humor when the US or the USSR invade your island.
  • Black Market: The second game has one as the import / export system since the European powers won't trade with outlaw pirates... until you ally with one of them.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Rising to power through military coup in Tropico 3. The description states that you failed to take power for so many times that he dictator of the island takes pity on you and gives you the poorest island in the entire region to rule.
    • Some of the positive qualities for your character also contains negative effects. For example, being 'athletic' or having 'empathy' makes intellectuals respect you less, being a 'green thumb' lowers the factory production rates, and being 'sociable' leads to more crime.
    • Inverted in that some of the negative qualities have some positive bonuses, such as being a drunk gets you a more positive relation with the the U.S.S.R.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • One of the Absolute Power' missions... provided you know or can translate binary.
    • Since Spanish is omnipresent in the game, knowing a bit of it doesn't hurt e.g some of the rebel quotes are funny "¡Toma un bocadillo de granada! (Have this grenade sandwich!)".
    • One of the islands is named Caralibro
  • Bling of War: Your avatar can be dressed up to look like this.
  • Book-Burning: One of the edicts you can carry out in order to curry favor with the religious crowd and cow the intellectuals into submission to your rule. It has a nasty effect on education, though.
  • Brainwashed: The sanitarium in Modern Times can brainwash Tropicans to respect El Presidente more.
  • Bread and Circuses: The public will continually re-elect you if their needs are met, they're more than willing to overlook your bouts of corruption or trodding over their rights, so long as they don't outweigh your "good deeds".
  • Brains and Bondage: Implied with Miss Pineapple
  • Broken Record: In the original game, the speakers of El Presidente's childhood museum loudly repeat "Viva El Presidente, Viva El Presidente" over and over again.
  • Butt Monkey: Penultimo the presidential advisor. Throughout the campaign missions he will usually ended up arrested or put into jail or fired and exiled.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The E.V.I.L. Corporation in the campaign of Tropico 3's Absolute Power expansion pack.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The game has a roster of selectable real life historical leaders and but there are thinly-veiled versions too:
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Justified in the 1st, 3rd and 4th, as in Real Life, a place like Tropico would be mostly Catholic. Averted in 2, in which the English prisoners are Protestant.
  • Command and Conquer Economy: Played straight for all buildings beyond the very crudest housing until Tropico 3's expansion pack, which introduces a 'Privatization' edict, which sells all non-essential industries to private interests, to the Capitalists' delight and the Communists' despair. After the initial cash influx, this was typically a bad deal - private buildings use up resources, but generate only a static rent instead of export profits. Tropico 4 replaced the edict with a Stock Exchange, which allows a range of private businesses to be built alongside national ones, sponsored by different superpowers and carrying different requirements and rent rates.
  • The Cold War:
    • The game's setting. Even past 1991, the USSR doesn't go anywhere. An important part of the game is balancing Tropico's relations with the US and the USSR to gain development aid and trade benefits. One of the ways to lose the game is to annoy one of the superpowers enough to provoke an invasion.
    • Averted in 4, in which after the 80s, the Soviet Union falls apart, and new powers rise, the European Union, China, and the Middle East. The Europeans are concerned about ethical behavior on the island, China is interested in business deals, and the Middle East will take interest in the oil industry.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Keith Preston, CEO of Fruitas LTD (itself a satirical Expy of the exploitive Real Life United Fruits Company,) fits this pretty neatly.
  • Corrupt Politician / Sleazy Politician. El Presidente (the player) in spades.
  • Crap Saccharine World: Tropico 2 essentially has you playing as a genocidal slave-driving psychopath lording over a band of murderous thugs who are kept fed, housed, and entertained by an economy driven entirely by slave labor. These slaves are kept in line with torture, random executions, and malnourishment. Despite this, the game is cheery, casual, and lighthearted, with a cartoonish art style, upbeat music, brightly-colored buildings and funny little comments in your citizens' thought boxes. Even the captives' crippling terror and miserable lives are played for laughs.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: If you get invaded by the US or the USSR, you will lose instantly and the game will be over. What? You honestly thought that your 'large' army with 30 people can stand against the might of a super power?
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: In the original game buildings are gradually destroyed by gun fire or blows. In the sequels the rebels plant explosives in the buildings, but only after the loyalists forces are defeated.
  • Democracy Is Bad: Played with. The difficulty of maintaining a democratic government varies through the games, and pure democracies generally require more ethical governance and a higher of standard of living than corrupt or dictatorial systems. On the other hand, a certain degree of vote-rigging, bribery, campaign glibness and Bread and Circuses is expected of the player, as part of the overall Black Comedy, and successful Presidentes can be given decades of near-unlimited power within a 'democratic' system.
  • Dirty Communists: The USSR and their local Communist allies can be potential allies or enemies. They are not the most unreasonable factions, and will support a moderate social democratic Tropico, though they will sponsor strikes and terrorist actions, or even invade, if particularly displeased. Rebels, particularly from 3 onward, play this straight.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Juanito annoying you in 3? Just have him executed.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: YOU in the campaign missions 'The Toady' and 'Divided Loyalty'. In the former you are the President's advisor who does all the work for him, and in the latter you are the puppet president who is being controlled by the general from behind the stage. By the end of both missions, you can take over you put yourself in power.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Juanito in Tropico 4, though Nick Richards pins the blame on his predecessor's assassination on an agent named "Juanito."
  • Eagle Land: On the other hand, for those presidentes with more rightist leanings, there is the USA which will shower you with development aid, trade benefits, and wealthy tourist if you play by their rules (have a high liberty rating, don't get too friendly with the USSR, keep the capitalist happy) but will invade and overthrow you if you snuggle up with the Soviet Union too much. Mostly shown as Type 1 (politically), with some tourists and politicians being Type 2.
  • Easy Evangelism: Citizens can be turned into loyalist citizens by many ways. Justified as the Presidente is usually a Manipulative Bastard with a huge Propaganda Machine at his service and the less inteligent individuals are easier to sway.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: There are several background traits featuring this trope, Booze Baron being one of them gives a great boost to your rum industries and exportations.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the original game, trying to use the eliminate edict on a child prompts the message "You can't do that to a child!"
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The player has a name, but s/he is only addressed as El Presidente.
  • Everything's Better with Llamas: They're Tropico's national animal! You can sell cheap llama wool from ranches, as well. There are rumors of a "llama flu" though, and if you survive multiple disasters, it's called "the curse of the llama." Hmm....
  • Evil Mentor: The first few missions of Tropico 4 are a tutorial with a succession of mentors. The rest are revenge against them when they turn against you. Though whether any of them are more corrupt than El Presidente is open to debate.
  • Featureless Protagonist / Standardized Leader: Thoroughly averted:
    • The player (El Presidente or the Pirate Lord in Tropico 2) has a defined background, specific "rise to power" circumstances, and possitive / negative traits that have a great gameplay impact.
    • Since Tropico 3 El Presidente has an in-game customizable character that moves around the island inspecting buildings and interacting with the people.
  • Firewood Resources: Averted. While the logs harvested directly from a logging camp are indeed of the "firewood" variety, they need to be delivered to a lumber mill to be processed before they can be assembled into furniture.
  • Fisher King: Personal traits selected at the beginning of the game influence the entire population. If you were a Farmer or Miner in your background, everyone will be much better at farming or mining. If you're Hardworking, everyone else will be hardworking.
  • Game Favored Gender: Some jobs are gender-specific without much justification nor real life equivalency. A feature not changed since the original game and especially odd for white collar jobs. To name a few examples:
    • Teachers, civil servants, shopkeepers, engineers, journalists and cooks can only be female.
    • Doctors, professors, armed personnel, priests, miners and attendants can only be male.
    • Farmers, factory labourers, construction workers, office workers, secret police [2] and native-themed entertainers can be either.
  • Gay Option:
    • For your citizens, at least - you can issue an edict legalizing same-sex marriage in Tropico 3. In the 1950s.
    • It is also possible to have 'Womanizer' as a flaw while you have a female avatar and suffer the exact same penalties.
  • The Generalissimo: The player, aka El Presidente.
  • Global Currency: The U.S. Dollar. Truth in Television. Although no inflation occurs at all for 50 years -- except if one edict that devaluates your purchasing power is enacted -- average Caribbean wages do rise over time and Tropicans would expect to be on par with their neighbours.
  • The Government: El Presidente can avert it or play it straight. The series introduces more villainous possibilities with every release.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Moderm Times introduces water treatment plants with a "Happy Powder" mode that increases the respect of nearby citizens but is a health hazard.
  • Government Procedural: Ministers (Five) are introduced in Tropico 4 and are needed before some buildings can be built. They generate positive events if they are competent, and negative ones if they are craven or dumb. Sometimes El Presidente will have to fire them to avoid backlash.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: A few voiceovers contain Spanish words sprinkled in here and there (and don't forget that "El Presidente" is a key term). But don't expect authentic pronunciation or accent, unless you take the music into consideration. The antillean-spanish spoken by the citizens sounds genuine enough (to a Spain's troper at least).
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: If Tropico's relations with a cold war superpower are poor, that superpower will dispatch a naval task force to your waters as a warning. If relations still don't improve after some time, an invasion usually follows.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: The result of a girls' night out at the cocktail bar with Sunny Flowers and Miss Pineapple:

  Miss Pineapple: "In other news, Penultimo has a concussion caused by blinking too loud near me."

  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Every single tourist from the US or the UK.
  • Hide Your Children: Sort of. While children aren't hidden, you are unable to have them arrested, executed, or the like.
  • Hot Teacher: Ms. Pineapple, the spokeswoman for the Intellectuals in Tropico 4. How hot? She can vouch that Tropico's scientists are "experts in drilling", she likes to be surrounded by "intelligent, creative men. At least four of them," and when discussing a newly built cabaret with Penultimo, she says that her show begins at eight and he will address her as "Mistress Pineapple."
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: In Modern Times, Sunny grudgingly admits she plays video games and thus knows how to defeat the zombie hordes: with plants!
  • Improbably Low IQ: The Moronic character in Tropico 3 states El Presidente has an IQ below room temperature, exact threshold for profound retardation. Somewhat justified, given El Presidente is described as having been diagnosed as a "Terminally retarded imbecile".
  • Infant Immortality: Somewhat. Babies born in Tropico do not have in-game bodies, or needs that must be met, until age 3. This eliminates most causes of death. They don't even need parents or siblings! Which is kind of Fridge Brilliance when you think about it if you consider them wards of the state.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: It's possible to be a successful politician with Tourette's syndrome. In addition to various faction relationship penalties including randomly offending factions you get additional annual income from pay-per-view of your unintentionally profane speeches.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: If the SWAT HQ is set to "Personal Death Squad" mode, it will only employ loyalists, who will immediately take the law into their own hands, and gun down criminals in the streets as they come across them.
  • Karl Marx Hates Your Guts:
    • The imports system introduced in Tropico 4 needs some tweaks, imported and exported goods unrealistically have the same prices (no middleman meddling or logistics cost), but you could use a customs office to raise export prices and make a marginal profit reselling previously bought goods or excedents thanks to it.
    • There are other factors that incidentally affect prices, good relations with a foreign power provides discounts and better profits. If a TV-Station is present in the island, El Presidente can enact an ad campaign that rises the exportation price of factory-made goods.
    • Except for ScriptedEvents or diplomatic disasters, there is no yearly limit on transactions, market exhaustion/saturation or the likes; foreign powers would sell and buy everything demanded and offered and the prices won't even flinch.
  • Land of One City: Averted in the first game; different collections of buildings would have their own names hovering over them automatically. Whether or not you have just one "city" in Tropico 3 and 4 is up to you, though. Those games don't have an auto-naming system.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: El Presidente can enact Conscription, allowing uneducated citizens to become soldiers, they will perform more poorly than educated soldiers. This increases chances of people leaving the island or becoming rebels.
  • Made a Slave: In Tropico 2, this is your sole source of labor. It's mostly played for laughs.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The secret police can arrange "accidents". They are more expensive than normal executions but are discreet and don't have negative repercurssions.
  • Masked Luchador: The Steam Edition of Tropico 4 comes with a bonus outfit for El Presidente. Now he can wrestle in style.
  • Memetic Badass: If some of Juanito's lines are to be believed, than the player themself is an in-universe example.

 Juanito: I think I have some bad news. Russian warships have been spotted off the coast of our island, I think our little island's days are numbered. Don't the Russians know that our El Presidente can easily chase them off with a baseball bat?

  • Middle-Eastern Coalition
  • Mister Danger: Many of the antagonists in the stock campaigns. Played for Laughs like everything else.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Soldiers with poor living conditions are more likely to join or stage a military coup. Generals too, but their better job normally implies higher salaries and better houses so they are more loyal.
  • Modern Stasis: Tropico is trapped in a middle-20th Century stasis, and nothing really upgrades past the 1950's. That is, of course, until the "Modern Times" expansion for 4 which finally lets El Presidente do things like build car and electronics factories, establish telecomm towers for cell phones and ban the use of Twitter and Facebook by presidential edict.
  • Mook Chivalry:
    • The Rebels, humble disillusioned citizens sworn to bring down your corrupt regime by any means necessary, will often emerge from the jungle and attempt to destroy your buildings - but only after politely waiting for your armed forces to show up.
    • This is nicely averted in the original game, where the rebels appear out of the blue and then beeline towards a sensible building, using hit and run tactics. Your military units have to be very close and strategically placed to engage them before it's too late.
  • Necessary Drawback: Your Presidente has a number of mandatory positive and negative traits, and even those usually have positive and negative sides to them. Tropico 4 changed things around a bit; flaws and virtues were merged into one category, and you could slowly improve the positive sides of the traits as you played. Some of the purely negative traits got silly positive bonuses in Tropico 4, such as "Ugly" (makes you slightly less popular with all factions) granting you a bonus to your reputation with the Middle East because you look like a camel.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Factories have a literal sweatshop mode. Most can be improved with upgrades that raise workers' confort and job satisfaction. Factories generate pollution but it can be halved with an edict that doubles its maintenance costs.
  • Nice Hat: Your avatar can be given a number of nice hats.
  • Occupiers Out of Our Country!: Nationalists will resent you if you allow a foreing military base in your soil.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Every branch of the Tropican government. Your palace guard? Four people. Your intelligence service/secret police and the foreign ministry are three people each. Your military is organized into squads of three people, each one commanded by a 'general', and it's considered extremely large if you have ten of these squads.
  • One-Man Army: A literal example - it's fairly common to have a 'rebellion' start with only one member. Subverted in that this one-man revolution is exactly as effective as you would expect - which is to say not at all, although he might, under really lucky circumstances, be able to take down three or maybe four of your soldiers before he is killed.
  • One True Faith: There is only one religious faction, and thus, only one set of religious buildings to construct.
    • Justified by the small size of your country and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean setting, where the Catholic Church traditionally dominates.
    • Nicely subverted in Tropico 2, in which there are multiple Christian denominations represented. However, this has little in-game effect besides determining which people won't be allowed into church if you choose the 'Fanatical Catholic' or 'Fanatical Protestant' character flaw.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: The game positively encourages the player to play President Corrupt...er, El Presidente Magnifico, basing a large chunk of the score on embezzlement and the cult of personality, providing the opportunity to rig or cancel elections, and having a whole submenu devoted to bribing, arresting or assassinating political opponents.
  • Painting the Fourth Wall and/or Biting the Hand Humor: In Modern Times, you can issue an edict that bans social networks, since they "reduce productivity". The icon for this edict? A stricken Facebook icon. Oh, and you can't connect to Facebook or Twitter from the game as long as this edict is active.
  • People Puppets: Metaphorical and invoked in Tropico 3 cover where El Presidente joyfully pulls the strings of the whole society.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: A common occurrence, the official name is simply "República de Trópico" but other traits are there, achieving a Landslide Election is way easier in the sequels (and an unlockable trophy) than in the original game. The developers lampshade it in promotional materials with the slogan Vote El Presidente.Or Else.
  • Permanent Elected Official: More or less a goal in any given scenerio. The Player Character must remain in power long enough to complete all their objectives, or until they pass beyond the scope of the game's time period. While the Player Character can get elected out of office, this almost never happens as that would mean a Game Over and players have many options for avoiding it, including bribing party leaders, election fraud, and suspending elections in extreme cases. There are, of course, no practical term limits.
  • Pirates:
    • Tropico 2: Pirate Cove shows that it takes a lot of work to be a successful pirate lord, far more than just sailing the high seas to find victims or Buried Treasure.
    • In 3 you can make your avatar dress like one. And one of the Absolute Power missions can have you indulge in some plundering too. Offscreen, of course.
  • The Pope: "Papal Visit" is one of the best edicts of the game, it provides a great happiness boost. Can only be used once. The one in the original game is a reference to John Paul II's visit to Cuba.
  • Population Control: An important gameplay element as the workforce needs to be expanded often but too much unemployement generates unproductive citizens crowding public services, vagrancy and crime. To manage the flux of people the government can set migratory policies to encourage mass inmigration (or restrict any), qualified inmigration, emigration or close the borders to prevent a Brain Drain. A pro-natality medicine can be set and a contraception ban can be issued. And then there are more direct approaches like Kill the Poor, Disposable Vagrant...
  • President for Life: El Presidente can omit general elections altogether, and there is a "Martial Law" edict tailored to this option that mantains people in line. Some scenarios however impose clean elections under the supervision of the United Nations. The loyalists take offence if their dear president allows elections.
  • Propaganda Machine: You can set radio and TV stations to broadcast propaganda, which increases the respect of the public. You can also build the Childhood Museum, dedicated to the reverence of your early life.
  • Race Lift:
    • Bizarrely inverted: Every single character in the series who's not a tourist has skin color indicative of Latin American ancestry and speaks fluent Spanish even if they're immigrants fresh off the boat from, for example, Moscow.
    • Conversely, every single tourist is absolutely lily-white.
    • Bizarrely in Tropico 3, becoming employed as a doctor makes the character look much more African looking. If said character gets some other form of employment they go back to looking of predominantly Spanish ancestry.
  • Rags to Riches:
    • Tropicans and inmigrants can start as homeless or vagrants or be humble farmers but they or their children can and eventually will climb up the social ladder and thus gain access to luxuries, upper class housing, services and facilities if the adequate jobs and education opportunities are available. Or you can of course design an egalitarian society with flat wages, fees and pensions. This makes education less attractive since literate jobs won't have an obvious edge.
    • The final score factors in the size of your swiss account. Except in Tropico 4, El Presidente starts every scenario with zero personal funds. In the original game, when the player retires your advisor provides different remarks about your future well-being depending on how much you were able to amass. Over 40.000$ is considered riches.
  • Random Event: Events such as strikes, bomb threats, ministerial gaffes (or feats) and natural disasters happen from time to time and require presidential attention. They can also be scripted and some are semi-random since some conditions make them more likely to happen.
  • Real Time with Pause
  • Red China: The Red and Rich version. China is one of the foreign 'Great Powers' that you have to deal with in Tropico 4. They like to buy canned goods and stuff like goat cheese and llama wool from you, and like it if you have low liberty on your island. They're also the ones who sell luxury goods to you for your shopping mall.
  • Refining Resources: The purpose of Tropico's industry. This is one of two basic ways you make money (the other is tourism) though your economy may tend to boom and bust a lot depending on how regularly you can put out exports. Tropico 4 introduced the ability to import raw materials, letting you run factories that refine things that you don't technically have access to on the island.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The game draws much of its humour from "how to do more and more devilish things to the citizens and get away with it".
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: A popular uprising boils down to rebel citizens assaulting your palace after beating loyalist citizens' brains out with their bare fists, if their jobs don't imply carrying weapons. Armed personnel can slay antagonists in more elegant and civilized ways.
  • Ridiculously-Fast Construction:
    • Sort of, anyway. Since the game isn't in real-time, the building actually take days, weeks, or months to construct, but it certainly looks fast. It certainly tends to not look so fast when the AI would rather have the construction workers wander around instead of building...
    • Taken to the extreme in Tropico 4, which now provides the option to near-instantly complete construction of a building... for double the construction price. DLC for Tropico 4 also includes a cement factory, which helps you build buildings faster, and as a bonus, produces lots of cement that you can sell as an export.
    • In the original Tropico, where walking times are a real concern (no cars) the opposite is/was a problem that was explictly addressed in the expansion but not completely repaired. Construction is a presential job and workers have to walk to the construction sites, they don't walk very far and only work if they have no other needs to refill first. Many construction offices have to be strategically placed to have something built in slightly peripherical areas. In addition non-flat ground requires a lot of preparatory work, so finishing an airport may take decades.
  • RPG Elements:
    • Citizens get more skilled and efficient at their specific jobs as time goes by. More intelligent individuals improve faster and the government can implement meassures to accelerate learning rates.
    • In Tropico 4, El Presidente's trait related bonuses gain ranks and get more powerful the more missions they are picked.
  • Rule of Cool: When compared to the original classic campaign, the mission in the Tropico 3 Absolute Power expansion pack are a lot less realistic and serious, for example you will be fighting against a rogue Soviet AI, working for an evil corporation, trying to escape a stabletimeloop, etc.
  • Rule of Funny: In general, Tropico 3 and Tropico 4 are more about being a funny political satire instead of a serious political simulation game.
  • Salaryman: One of the new Modern Times buildings is a business tower full of uneducated employees who generate income depending on how many other people are living in an area. Office workers are bottom-of-the-barrel white-collar workers, but it allows you to make money off of dense populations without needing to export anything.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have a Nuke: In the Tropico 3: Absolute Power expansion pack, your island will have the ability to develop your own nuclear program. Afterwards, as long as it remains fully staffed and operational, no matter how much you go out of your way to antagonize the super powers, you will never get invaded.
  • Scripted Event: Well elaborated scenarios often make use of these events to simulate rebel activity, price fluctuations, migration waves, international relations etc. For instance The Cuban Missile Crisis activates a mandatory Conscription edict in Modern Times while it was only a flavour radio announcement in Tropico 3 and not present in the original game stock scenarios.
  • Secret Police: You can recruit them and set them up in a building of your choice, from a Newspaper office to a tiny poky restaurant
  • Self-Made Man: One of the possible background that you can have. You will get extra respect from the capitalist and US government, also the productivity of your citizens will also gain a bonus. And it is one of the few capitalist background that does not have the penalty of loosing respect from the communist.
  • Sensitivity Training: A policy that can be implimented if Tropico has a college or minister of education. It helps police and military personel be less of a drag on liberty ratings by offering such helpful suggestions as "Never hit a civilian anywhere that will leave a mark."
  • Sex Slave: Sexual gratification is one of the desires pirates need to have satisfied in Tropico 2. As with all others, this is handled with forced labor kidnapped from settlements or captured from ships.
  • Slave to PR: Or else you either face an uprising or invasion. But on the other hand, if you managed to keep your people happy, they will not mind too much if you put some of the country's public funding into your private bank account.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism:
    • The message behind the game is extremely cynical. It basically says that all political leaders are there to either line their own pockets or just to hold power. Whether capitalist or communist, ideology is merely a way to obtain more power. The Cold War setting heavily reinforces this notion by having Tropico essentially be a very small pawn in a much larger game betweem the US and the USSR that is the same money-making, power-grabbing scheme on a larger scale. In addition, all of the factions are completely cynical examples illustrating the worst of their particular group as a whole: the religious faction is full of puritanical Moral Guardians, the capitalists are greedy plutocrats, the communists want you to keep everyone equal regardless of skill or effort, the militarists are club-wielding Black Shirts, the nationalists are xenophobic shut-ins, the environmentalists are so knee-jerk hateful of industries such as logging that they would rather have people unemployed than working at a mill, the intellectuals are prone to get offended at anything done to appeal to the uneducated, and the loyalists are universally depicted as a bunch of boot-licking simpletons who measures a strong leader on how much he abuses his privileges, cultivates a near-religious cult of personality, and brutally oppresses the general population.
    • The description of almost everything also is quite brutally cynical and extremely snarky, mocking the pretentiousness of the tropical islands and your background is written by a Yes-Man who claims you are greater than Ayn Rand, Henry Kissinger, Milton Friedman, Karl Marx and Engels combined. The list goes on.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sidequest: Tropico 4 introduces optional tasks, specific simple goals presented by faction and foreign leaders that provide small boosts.
  • Sinister Surveillance: One of the purposes of the secret police. El President can increase its efficiency by enacting the edict "wiretapping". Big Brother Is Watching
  • Socialism : Basically the economic model of the simulation is state capitalism to be precise, in Tropico the state is the owner of everything and manages wages and production modes. Recent games are gradually introducing private capitalism, still ineffective as mentioned already (above, Command and Conquer Economy) but there are other traits like free health care, free education and free food that are core concepts unchanged since the original game and cannot be changed by the player and fit well as at least socialdemocracy. Although the game explicitly labels those services as "free", they could also be interpreted as being tax financed (and breaking even) since there is no apparent tax collection but there is a "Tax Cut" edict that simulates returning treasury money to the citizens to make them happier. There are optionals edicts too like "Free Housing" that are relevant to the model.
  • Space Management Game : A mixture of Commodity and Service game.
  • Stable Time Loop: One of the missions in the Absolute Power expansion has you running an island where something has gone wrong and time is stuck in a loop; you load the mission to find you've already tried, and failed, at it hundreds of times. When you do beat it, the game tells you to restart the mission to see how you succeeded.
  • The Starscream:
    • It is strongly implied that your presidential advisor Penultimo is constantly trying to assassinate you and take power himself throughout the entire third game. He is, however, completely loyal in the fourth game.
    • YOU will be one in the campaign mission 'The Toady'. In which you started as the president's right hand, with your goal being to eventually replace him. Near the end of the mission, the KGB will offer to put you in power in exchange for you becoming their puppet. No matter what you do, you will become president by the end of the mission.
  • State Sec: In Modern Times the SWAT HQ can set to work as this.
  • Stuffy Brit: The EU representative from 4. "Tally ho, old boy! The riff-raff are on my back again. You know how it is."
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • "Of course the secret police does not operate out of this restaurant, where have you heard that, Citizen?"
    • The description of the weapons factory fits this too. "Weapons? What weapons? They are nothing but pipes, pipes in which you could possibly shoot something out of..."
    • American president Nick Richards will randomly deny being a criminal during totally unrelated discussions.
  • Swiss Bank Account:
    • Explicitly part of the game in that El Presidente has one and you have to keep it nice and plumped with crooked donations. You are actually encouraged to put money into your account since it will give you bonus points in the end game.
    • The Modern Times expansion for 4 finally gives you a gameplay reason to have a private bank account: all the best stuff unlocks that way! You can't set your SWAT HQ to "Personal Death Squad" without it, nor can you upgrade your palace to a modern Presidency or put "happy powder" in everyone's drinking water. Think of it as a "how much can I exploit the people?"-meter.
  • Take a Third Option: Having a secret police presents the player with new and subtler approaches when conflictive events arise.
  • Take That: One of the missions in Tropico 3 centers around international intrigue. At one point in that mission, the U.S. President will accuse you of hiding "nookular" weapons on your island that he is certain you will use to attack his Texas ranch, insisting that you "turn over the WMDs or embrace the way of the hamburger." Whether or not you actually have any sort of nuclear program on the island is irrevelant to this happening.
  • Talk Show: El Presidente can broadcast his own, "Hola Presidente". A show with only one guest who doubles as the host. An Expy of Hugo Chavez's show "Aló Presidente".
  • Thriving Ghost Town: You know you're doing well when your population gets above 200. Justified in that the island is tiny, and even with every square foot of land developed it can usually only support around 900 individuals maximum.
  • Trial and Error Gameplay: You're rarely warned what sort of problems (or specific goals) you're faced in a level, leading to gameplay consisting of "Play the level for a while, learn your goals, and restart it with Traits that will help you accomplish it."
  • Undying Loyalty: This is the point of the Loyalist faction. They're...loyal. What this means is they will always support you during a revolt, they will never become a rebel, they can become members of your personal death squad, and they always vote for you during an election (though they much prefer if you don't even put it to a vote). The only thing that upsets them is you not worshipping yourself the same way they do (not building your own childhood museum/personal mausoleum, having free elections, etc) and their faction disaster is that they simply stop being Loyalists; even in their faction disaster they don't really hurt you!
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Very present in the much harder original game. Losing the very few initial male college educated citizens (usually exigent chaps, prone to emigration) means no doctors if you don't realize it in time and hire expensive foreigners. No doctors leads to people dropping like flies, a critical hit early on. Also since citizens have to walk to the buildings that provide services they sometimes neglect their own business. Working is a low priority by design, they serve themselves first. This is a critical issue with dockworkers, since they require to be physically at work to load exported goods into a ship, the entire economy of a industry-based island could collapse if they have to walk to the other side of the island to satisfy a need (e.g due to food shortages or crowded buildings), and during that time another different need likely triggers so they can spend their whole life walking if you don't monitor them. Once the island has deficit, wages are capped and things go sour(er). The sequels erradicate this with the introduction of cars and allowing to spend a little while in debt.
  • Updated Rerelease:
    • Tropico 3 looks to be this to the first game and its expansion pack - the bulk of the mechanics, buildings, edicts, etc., built into a new engine and with new campaigns and game modes. Many of the NPC citizens are carried over verbatim except in 3D.
    • Tropico 4 is pretty much Tropico 3, but with slightly better graphics, larger maps, redesigned AI, a handful of new buildings and edicts, and a redesigned campaign. Everything else is exactly the same, especially the game models. And the Script! Especially the script...
    • Modern Times, the expansion to Tropico 4, looks set to finally avert this as it introduces fully 30 new buildings and a few extra gameplay features, some of which could radically change how the game is played.
  • Urban Segregation: It's a good idea to separate residential, tourist and industrial areas. There are many Not in My Back Yard buildings
  • Velvet Revolution: One way to become El Presidente from Tropico 3 onward. You will get bonus respect from the US and the Intellectual if you have this as your way of rising to power. Naturally, people will have very high democratic expectations and will not react kindly if you betray your ideals.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can make sure all your citizens live like kings. Build them high class and comfortable housing, have a diverse and satisfying diet for them, make sure the police keep them safe, pay them lots of money on their jobs, make sure they have plenty of entertainment...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Or you can just make your people live in shacks. Lock random people in prisons, have peaceful protesters shot, order random people on the streets executed by your soldiers and order anyone who dares to run for president against you shot dead in the street.
    • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Push people too hard, get their happiness meters too low, and they will revolt. Usually this results in a trickle of citizens becoming rebels who will gradually attack your facilities before finally targeting your palace. If happiness completely bottoms out, you could have a full-scale Civil War where half of your citizens riot in the streets killing the other half.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: You, if you're doing well. Radio and TV Stations can specifically broadcast programs that improve your approval ratio.
  • Voice of the Resistance:
    • DJ Betty Boom of Radio Free Tropico from the Absolute Power expansion. She is quite the Conspiracy Theorist, and is vehemently against everything El Presidente does. Even if the player plays a genuinely progressive, democratic, incorruptible, and generous El Presidente, she will still declare all taken actions acts of pure evil and use them as reasons to call for El Presidente's head on a stake. No seriously, if you enact air pollution standards, she'll lambast you for keeping the "healthy" noxious fumes all to the bourgeoisie. If you build a wind turbine, she'll decry it as a symbol of oppression for only turning in the direction of the wind, and ask her listeners to join her in tearing down the turbine and building a new one that rotates against the win. This is Lampshaded in 4.
    • You can also build one of these as a radio station in the first game - setting it to 'Radio Free Tropico' will release all government restrictions on the content of the station, massively boosting the Liberty stat for any listeners but increasing chances of uprisings or rebellions if happiness is very low.
  • Welcome to the Caribbean Mon: The entire setting of the game. And you can use it to help promote your tourist industry.
  • You Lose At Zero Trust: A political version of this. You will need to get every political faction to like or at lease tolerate you if you want to stay in power a avoid civil unrest or foreign invasion. From Tropico 3 onwards, faction-specific disasters (beyond the aforementioned invasions) have been introduced - Communists will import rebels, Intellectuals will shut down schools, foreign powers will halt trade and aid, etc.

Notes

  1. Though with Absolute Power, they gain enormous favor with the Privatize edict, and the Communists conversely lose it
  2. secpol operatives will be the of the same gender as the workers employed in the original building before it got designated as secret police HQ
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