Hot-Springs-Story---iOS-Review Hot Springs Story - iOS Review

   03/03/2011 at 16:57       Drew Bower       6 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - Hot Springs Story, Kairosoft, Game Dev Story, iPhone, iOS

“Hello. My name is Drew, and I’m an addict. I spend hours that spread into days hunched over with staring eyes; the world around me not existing like it does for others – like it used to for me. I just can’t wait until my next fix and constantly look out for opportunities to grab even a few minutes of action. Skipping work, ignoring friends, family. Countless burnt or stone cold meals signal my addiction levels of distraction. But the thrill of seeing the creations of my imagination is too great a desire for me to control… I need help. I hope that coming here today I can take back control of my life. Please say you can help me!”

“Firstly, welcome to our group, Drew. And well done on taking the first step on the road to recovery. We have complete confidence that your addiction to GDS will soon be a distant memory. You will of course need full commitment to the program in order to succeed. However, we have recently developed a GDS replacement and are offering subjects the chance to try it out instead of our regular methods. It’s called HSS and involves Japanese hot springs, eye catching scenery, relaxing surroundings, meetings with artists, models and celebrities… How does that sound, Drew?”

“Oh my, that sounds just delightful Mr Kairosoft! It sounds too good to be true, but I’m willing to try. Sign me up!”

“That is most excellent news, Drew. Nurse, please return this gentleman’s iPod Touch and install the relevant software. Don’t worry, Drew, everything is going to be alright…”

In most other areas of life, if something as addictive to men, women and children as Game Dev Story came along the chances are it would be quickly on the list of banned commodities. And just when most people were overcoming their addictions to creating cutie sims called HotLilSluts, or a ninja themed action RPG series called Ninja Light and Ninja Dark, along comes Hot Springs Story to take up the reigns. Gee, thanks Kairosoft!

Hot Springs Story places you in charge of a Japanese hot springs inn – perhaps better known in the West as a health spa. Your tasks include building and improving the facilities such as baths, restaurants and karaoke bars whilst making your establishment look delightfully pretty with flowers and trees. The overall goal is to entice an ever increasing array of customers who will sing your praises in order to achieve the number one spot in a selected travel publication.

This goal structure marks perhaps the biggest difference between Hot Springs and Game Dev. In GDS results were pretty much instant and constant due to cranking out 3-4 games a year and always having something on the go. HSS has a single year long goal that delivers a more considered approach – yet somehow remains just as addictive due to the many events and stats that are constantly available.

Your inn lives or dies on the customers who are enticed through the gates. There are loads of different potential customers from students and housewives, to business men, programmers, old couples and young families. Three different customer groups can be targeted at any one time. As the groups level up their popularity, they will inform friends which in turn reveals more customer groups. So for instance, a student will tell an artist, who in turn introduces an illustrator and so on. Opening up the flow of new customers is the key to acquiring new items or rooms to build. These come in the form of investments and generally cost a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Completing investments again works similarly to the way new customers are revealed in that one duly leads to another.

The game is viewed from an isometric perspective with the same fantastic pixel art style of GDS. The quirky (whether intentional or not) humour is also prevalent throughout. In fact, Hot Springs Story reminds me very much of Theme Hospital and indeed leaves me hankering for an iOS version to someday appear. The only negative aspect comes with item placing which can be rather fiddly. It’s also frustrating when having purchased a special item of scenery at a premium price, you then accidentally plonk it in an inappropriate position leaving you to either delete or work around it. An undo button – even if it was just for one step would be very welcomed. This would also help when judging if one building or item is close enough to enhance nearby facilities – which is vital to improve your popularity.

For those who enjoyed GDS for its instant feedback and results may be a little wary of Hot Springs Story’s greater depth. But they need not worry – we’re not talking Sim City levels of micromanagement here – it’s still very much a light-hearted take on the genre. You don’t need to worry about setting facility prices, staff wages or anything technical like that. That’s all taken care of by using mushrooms or iced tea as level up bonuses.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but you will become hooked on Hot Springs Story very much like you were on GDS. It’s a quite brilliant light-hearted take on the sim management genre and one that I only encourage purchasing if you’ve got no upcoming commitments on the horizon. Otherwise, I can’t be held responsible should you miss them…

User Comments:

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NewYork - on 03/03/2011 at 21:50 wrote:
Frustrating reading such a glowing review for the game and yet knowing I won't "get it" in the same way.

Looks cool, though.

peej - on 04/03/2011 at 09:01 wrote:
Love this game to bits, and a superb write-up Mr Bower sir! The ol' iPod Touch has certainly seen a bit of a revival over the last few weeks (courtesy of my brother in law and a timely 15 quid iTunes voucher, cheers bro!) and I picked this up as soon as I could.

It beats the hell out of me why Kairosoft are the only developer out there not trying to ream the hell out of everyone's wallets with microtransaction-driven crap, when something priced right can do the genre far more justice. Let's just hope they keep on keeping on with that model too because there's definitely acres more room for more like this.

Great stuff, and thoroughly deserving of its 5 stars.

TheBoy - on 04/03/2011 at 10:23 wrote:
NY: I think the problem with judging GDS by the demo was it only gave you around 2-3 years of game time. For me, this was always the least appealing period and it actually kicked into gear around years 5-6 when you'd hopefully nailed a few hits and had money to play with.

Of course, if you simply didn't like the general feel of how it played, then even playing it for a longer period probably wouldn't help.

peej - on 04/03/2011 at 11:49 wrote:
I think once you get past a couple of shows and award ceremonies, GDS gets all the more addictive. It is pretty repetitive though and I find it a bit frustrating that I never seem to earn enough money to buy the better consoles or even develop one.

EA should make note of what Kairosoft are doing here as they own the rights to most of the Theme stuff now.

TheBoy - on 07/03/2011 at 10:07 wrote:
Something I never gave a thought when writing the review is that similar to Game Dev, this really should have had Game Centre support.

I'd also like to see some kind of indicator when placing an item to show it's radius of effectiveness to other buildings. I'm currently trying to get the bonuses on all my baths, but keeping track of what's effecting what is proving quite tricky.

Still a brilliant game though!

peej - on 07/03/2011 at 11:12 wrote:
I think this requires a lot more twiddling and thought than GDS did. It seems really tricky to get stuff placed in a way that's going to target your advertised target group. I did (finally) get the site expansion though, which was exciting but the game seems to really drip-feed 'new' stuff to you at a tiny trickle.

Still think it's a fantastic game though but I am definitely more looking forward to GDS 2 (which is apparently being worked on at the mo)

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