Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: Game Dev Story

There is an overwhelming amount of games available on Apple's iDevice store, and most of them are terrible. However, Game Dev Story is a hidden gem, with many hours of joy for those with a little patience. The game originated as cellphone game from Kairosoft, but it was ported for iDevices last year. The game's concept is simple: run your own game company. Who hasn't ever dreamed of that?
The game allows you to hire team members like programmers, musicians, and directors that will design your products. In the early years, you will have weak employees, with little to no experience in game design. As time goes on and your company earns more revenue, you can hire better workers that can churn out higher quality products at a faster rate. With each completed game, you pick a title and submit it to a fake Famitsu magazine, who scores it. If you get good scores, then expect great sales.
The graphics are simplistic, but effective, as is the musical selection. What really makes Game Dev Story fun is the addictiveness of the "I will make a better game" system. With time and effort, your games can earn 9s and 10s from the reviewers, but expect the first few years to be hard. This build up to greatness makes the game very fun and creates the "just one more game" mentality before turning it off. After several years of game design, you can move to a bigger office and eventually design your own home console or portable.

Some basic flaws do exist in Game Dev Story. First, your early recruits will have to be fired in order to hire better staff members, so it is unrewarding to be loyal to your initial crew; which feels a bit cruel even though it is only a video game.  Second, once you do have a good staff, it is impossible to make a bad game; seriously I tried with a puzzle title about pirates. With enough money and experienced staff members, you can make the strangest game genre combinations work (ninja dating sim...woohoo), and still get very high review scores, which honestly seems a bit stupid. Also don't expect a Game Over screen, as it is not possible to lose.

Overall, Game Dev Story is fantastic, especially for an iDevice app. If you love gaming or have ever dreamed of running Konami or Sega, then you will love this cheap little gem.
 Make your own cheap knockoffs a reality in Game Dev Story!

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