Game Dev Story Review

By on December 21, 2010

Take the gaming industry by storm in this highly addictive iOS game by Kairosoft

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First Impressions
My reaction is

While the AppStore itself came with a promise that the average programming-savvy person can develop a game, literally overnight, and have launched on the digital market, Game Dev Story is an iOS Sim-RPG game that lets you live the more extreme version of this ‘dream’. The objective of the game is to become the market leader in video game development (with all the fame and fortune that does or does not ensue). At first glance, it is easy to dismiss the Kairosoft’s game as being rudimentary and shallow. Its visuals and music are outdated and its menus, simplistic. However, if you have even the slightest interest in the gaming industry as a whole, your are bound to be hooked within your first 15mins of play. You see Game Dev Story is a lot like Mary Poppin’s bag, it may seem small but you’ll be incredibly surprised at how deep it is and how much it can offer.

You start the ‘story’ by naming your game development start-up and hiring some staff members. Your start-up capital is not a lot so you’ll have to settle for the people you can afford. Besides having humorous names like “Anne DeRoid” and “Steve Jobson” , potential staff have different jobs and different status attributes such as programming, design and scenarios. A writer for example would probably have low programming or sound stats but higher scenarios stats and so on. Staff members can also be leveled up using research data points (points you automatically collect by working on different projects) or trained by exposing them to different media or giving them some time off. For example, leveling up a coder will give them a large stat boost will training them by either buying them some anime or sending them to a museum might give small stat boosts to different attributes. Naturally the better your staff members the better the games you’ll develop.

There is much to consider whilst developing games. First you’ll need a license to develop on a certain platform (You’ll obviously need to start developing for the PC because it’s the only licenses you’ll be able to afford). Then you’ll need to decide on the both the game genre and subject matter. Experimenting with different combinations allow you to see what combinations work best but also awards you with extra development points you can use to push the game into being more realistic or innovative or simple etc. You won’t have access to all the genres and themes at first but you will acquire more and more as you train your staff. Of course developing a game doesn’t come cheap so, as a start-up, you’ll need to make a lot of compromises and in all likelihood, the critics will trash it and sales will be low but the point of the game is to gradually, by picking up research, experience and capital, become a big player in the gaming industry.

A lot of the game’s appeal comes from the little things that happen throughout the campaign. Every year you’ll get the chance to set up a booth at the ‘GameDex’ gaming expo or perhaps one of your game will be nominated for a Global Game Award. Best of all, Game Dev Story is loosely based on the gaming timeline of the last 2 decades. You’ll witness the launch of Intendro’s IES and Super IES as Sonny’s PlayStatus and MiniStatus portable system. The game is just filled with little reference and a lot of them are quite funny, assuming you are familiar with the subject.

While the game ‘officially’ ends after 20 years, nothing will prevent you from playing on. No new systems will be announced and the high score will no longer be logged but you an continue to develop and grow trying to beat your own sales record or win that elusive Best Game award. There is really so much to do that it is likely you’ll be compelled to play on to see what new game types you can learn and perhaps to even develop your own console.

To say that Game Dev Story is addictive is an outrageous understatement. The game is so much more. It’s charming, intelligent and is, without a doubt, an unsung triumph for indie development. It may not boast the greatest production values but everything it does it does right. Furthermore, at around $3.99 on the AppStore (US), you are unlikely to find better value on any gaming device available today.

The Scorecard
You’ll be surprised how much can be done with a few simple menus. A unique and incredibly engaging Sim RPG.
Simple but effective artwork, though there isn’t much in the way of variety. Game Dev Story is many things but eye-candy is not one of them.
While the sound effects and music can get repetitive fast, they do not hinder the experience in anyway. On the contrary, you’ll begin to wait for those fanfare chiptunes that indicate that your gaming projects are on track.
There is no better bang for your buck. Game Dev Story would be great value at 10$, at 4$ it is an absolute steal.
Highly addictive. This is both a compliment and a warning. If you can stop yourself from being sucked in, then your will is iron.
If you own any of Apple’s iDevices and are looking for a fun gaming experience that does not involve launching birds or landing planes, Game Dev Story is a sure bet.


As an opinionated young gamer many years ago, I made three predictions: 1- Sega would dominate the console wars for 50 years. 2- Simon's Quest would be remembered as the definitive NES game. 3- I would be gaming even more as an adult. I suppose one out of three isn't bad.

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