Game Dev Story Review for iPhone

On: iPhone
Game Dev Story screenshot
Game Dev Story screenshot

That guy who runs the game studio that specialises in golf RPGs? That's me. "Dave Jones' Old College Try" might not be a household name yet, but we're the most reliable suppliers of casual sport adventure on the Game Kid console. Fancy a nice animal-based FPS? I've got you covered - at least until I get bored of my employees and get a bit too trigger-happy with the "fire" button. Another day, another dollar at ol' DJOCT. Sure, I don't give my workers any downtime, but I find as long as you drip-feed them Dead Bull they have enough energy to power a small house in Da Nang.

This is Games Dev Story: ostensibly a management game that puts you at the head of a small games studio in the early 1980s. For the next two in-game decades you'll be establishing yourself in the industry, attempting to keep up with new console technology, competing against rival studios for awards, continuously trying to weed out the weaker stafflings, finding new employees with better stats, deciding whether to go for a contract job or develop a new IP, and hoping those bloody journalists will give you a score higher than a 7. Imagine Theme Hospital if it had been designed for a demographic of games history buffs and armchair designers, and you have Games Dev Story.

At most stages of the development process you're faced with difficult decisions. Do I churn out mindless games for a cheap buck, or do I try to develop a title for the latest popular console and lose money on the licensing fee? Do I take a chance and boost my game's graphics or sound, or should I keep it simple in order to avoid bugs? Should I cough up a few thousand dollars to get booth babes to advertise my game at the Gamedex show or keep it cheap so I can afford to make better games? Should I get the game's graphics outsourced by talented albeit expensive professionals, or use my fresh-faced and slightly useless office dwellers? It's a level of complexity that's immensely refreshing for such a little game.

And it is little. It's been developed by Japanese studio Kairosoft, who seem to have made a business out of creating tiny management titles - most of them have yet to make it to the Western market, from the look of it. But GDS' appeal is how comfortable it is in its nicheness. Throughout the game's 20 year campaign you're hit with waves of cunningly quirky nostalgia. Half the fun is discovering new systems, from the Game Kid to the Senga Uranus to the Sonny PlayStatus to the Whoop.

When they're done well enough, management sims can give insight into the decisions and pressures of the guys in charge. And with the amount of relatively legitimate development-isms that pop up over the lifespan of your game studio, you can't help but feel a slight pang of empathy for the guys making the real things. But don't worry, that wears off. Soon all you'll care about is getting Game of the Year over those damned Circle Enix guys and spending five consecutive hours trying to get a decent score.

New stuff to check out

12 Comments

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Bought it this morning.
I've named my studio &Beyond, so far I've made Funky Fiteland (Monkey Island rip off) and Ninja Gayden, a Ninja Action game. I've got a million saved up, but I'm training up my employees by doing Contracts atm.

I love this game!
Posted 18:57 on 23 October 2010
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

Bought it last nite, played it from midnight to 5am... it's pretty good. Everyone should buy it tbh.
Posted 13:25 on 23 October 2010
IamBugged's Avatar

IamBugged

Great... now I need to get an iPhone aswell...
Posted 13:25 on 23 October 2010
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Damn I need to get some time to review this game. There have just been so many big iPhone releases this month.
Posted 22:37 on 22 October 2010
Get2DaChoppa's Avatar

Get2DaChoppa

Great review Emily. When I initially downloaded it I couldn't put it down, literally played for about 4-5 hours. It's just a perfect time sink for a long journey.

Hope there will be some kind of update for it soon though.
Posted 22:03 on 22 October 2010
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

One day I'll be one of these games programmers :)
I feel the need to play it for that reason alone :P
Posted 21:51 on 22 October 2010
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

Short review? That's my kind of review!

I GUESS I'll go buy it, I mean it's not like I'm broke or anything. And the job center does owe me like 2 months of sitting-on-my-arse-playing-Halo allowance. But if they release it on PC later I'm totally stealing it.
Posted 12:53 on 22 October 2010
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ Geraface

I meant to say - nice review, Emily.
Posted 10:33 on 22 October 2010
Geraface's Avatar

Geraface

SHORT REVIEW IS SHORT
Posted 10:30 on 22 October 2010
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Most enjoyable game I have purchased for the iPhone! Very much recommended - the games industry would have much more innovation if *I* were in charge! ;)

Reminds me, as I mentined on the other thread, of that feeling I had upon playing Sim City on the SNES for the very first time.

There is also a good thread on NeoGAF about GDS - as well as revealing that a sequel has been published in Japanese, apparently - full of good ideas and suggestion people have put forward. I truly hope the dev will at least look at some of them, as this has the potentital to become a fantastic series!
Posted 10:30 on 22 October 2010
cousinwalter's Avatar

cousinwalter

Amazing got it Wednesday this week and havent put it down, best app i have on my Iphone
Posted 10:25 on 22 October 2010
IndoorHeroes's Avatar

IndoorHeroes

Good read! So glad to see this game get the exposure it deserves, though if £2.39 is a tad pricey then the recession is even more dire than I could ever imagine.
Posted 10:21 on 22 October 2010

Game Stats

Game Dev Story
9
Out of 10
Game Dev Story - No boxshot available.
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Nostalgic references
  • Very meta
  • A tad pricey?
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 09/10/2010
Platform: iPhone
Developer: Kairosoft
Publisher: Kairosoft
Genre: Simulation
No. Players: One
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 12,943 8652
View Full Site