Game Dev Story iOS Review

   21/10/2010 at 09:33       Drew Bower       13 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - Game Dev Story, Kairosoft, Sim Management, iPhone, Addictive as Crack

I guess most of us as kids at one time or another contemplated running our own game studio. Creating smash hit games that would sell millions would be a breeze and all in the industry we enjoy so much. Of course, unless you were called Dave Perry then those idle thoughts probably didn’t come to any fruition. But now Game Dev Story from Japanese developers Kairosoft has given us regular Joe’s the chance to emulate Peter Molyneux and pals with a light hearted take on game development.

Game Dev Story places you as director of your newly founded game company along with a secretary and handful of amateur staff in a humble office. It’s down to you and your team to create games that will sell by the millions, win awards and thus fame and fortune for your company.

To develop games, you must first decide on which platform to develop. PC and a home console are available however all consoles first require a license to be purchased before you can pump out games. As time progresses newer consoles and handhelds will be released and their older versions will go out of production. Each console is a parody of a real life counterpart – for instance the ‘PlayStatus’ and ‘Game Kid’. These also play out their real life history of popularity so for instance the Game Kid will stay in production and maintain popularity for a long time, whereas the Virtual Kid (with 3D Goggles) will soon drop off unless you produce big selling games for it.

Once the platform for your game has been decided, you then decide on its style and genre. Picking a matching combination is required if you hope to sell to the masses. Games with good genre and style combinations level up the more you make them as your staff are more productive working on good games.

Finally, game development progresses to work on the 4 different game elements – fun, creativity, graphics and sound. You can choose from your own staff or opt for outside help for a fee relative to their skill levels. Naturally, the higher skilled a person is in an area of expertise, the greater influence they will add to the game.

Once the game has been completed and all bugs ironed out, it will hit the shop shelves. To help promote your latest release and also build the name of your company you must advertise. You’ll start off with magazine and online ads before progressing to TV and card tournament sponsorships.

If your game scores high enough with the reviewers, it will be entered into the Hall of Fame. Titles which receive this honour can later be turned into sequels.

During the year you will be invited to attend a game trade show with the aim of promoting your studio and latest games. At the end of the year, an awards ceremony takes place with the winner of Game of the Year being awarded a cool $1million.

In between developing games extra money can be made by taking on ‘contracts’ for outside projects such as creating pinball machine graphics or mobile phone games. These projects must be completed within a certain timescale or the clients refuse to pay up.

As with most kinds of sim management games, levelling up is highly important. Staff can be both levelled up and trained. As they achieve higher levels of skill, newer genres and game styles become available.

Items can also be used to boost the stats of your game or project. These must first be purchased from a travelling salesman and then require research points to use.

The only real downside to Game Dev Story is that it’s a very obvious port from a mobile phone game. As such there are large blank areas at the top and bottom of the screen. The graphics do actually work well - keeping in with the whole simplicity theme - and personally, I love the 8-bit style looks. But it would have been nice if some extra optimisation had gone into the iOS versions. Especially when a game like this is crying out for OpenFeint or GameCentre achievements!

It may not sound like it, but the whole package comes together to create one of the most highly addictive games I have ever come across. Many are the times that a quick 5 minute play has turned in to an hour or more. In fact, let me warn you now: do not under any circumstances start playing Game Dev Story before heading out to meet a friend or to pick up your significant other from work – you will be late! The thrill of seeing your latest dating rpg or robot shooter go on to colossal sales and winner of awards is a real joy. And once you’ve had one hit game, you will be eager to create something bigger and better and after that… Well, you probably get the idea.

Sure the Game Dev Story is not much to look at and the casual observer may wonder what all the fuss is about. Take the plunge and purchase it however and you’ll be thoroughly rewarded. Despite the low production values which under normal circumstances would warrant a lower score, how on earth can a game this addictive and enjoyable not be given full marks? After playing GDS, you may even start to sympathise with that person in your office who plays FarmVille all day…

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