In this Game Dev Story review, I get to gush about one of my favorite mobile games I’ve ever played. My dream has always been to be a game developer. I’m never going to be a game developer, but with Game Dev Story, I can pretend I’m a gaming company on the road to glory. Game Dev Story is a mobile game for both iOS and Android devices. It’s from Kairosoft, a small game studio in Japan that started making games for PCs in the 90s.
Getting into my Game Dev Story review
Game Dev Story is a game developer simulator where you can start a game studio and work your way through the gaming platforms from history. The names of the famous game systems have been changed, but you’ll quickly know what the systems are supposed to be. (If you know your gaming history)
I picked this game up many years ago and I find myself often coming back to it every six months. It should be mentioned that this game is pay once, keep forever. There are NO in app purchases or hidden fees like a lot of popular mobile games.
For some reason, I never hear anyone talk about Game Dev Story. I see it sometimes mentioned on pocket gaming websites, but I have never met anyone in real life that has played this game besides me. I guess that’s why I’m doing a Game Dev Story review!
Starting out small
You start out as a small game development team and you have to buy a license to be able to develop for a platform.
For example, if you want to develop for the regular Nintendo or for PCs, you have to first cough up a lot of money for the privilege to publish on that platform. It sort of works like that in real life or at least it did back in the day.
Keep in mind that this game is made by a Japanese developer, so the whole system reflects the Japanese way of game development and advertising. You may think you can start developing for PCs and just keep doing that, but PC gaming never took off in Japan, so it won’t work in this game either.
After you get the license, you have to think of a game title, decide the theme and genre of your game. Based on what combination you choose, it will either help your game succeed or fail. For example, an action game featuring pirates will probably do better than a dancing game with a space theme.
The more the game sells, the better your profit. You need to sell as many copies of your games as you can so you can afford to develop more games and possibly start developing on more game systems.
Time passes in this game, so you need to watch a few things. First, the number of game systems sold and new systems coming around the corner need to be taken into consideration. If “Nintendo” or “Sony” introduces a new system, you need to decide if that system is worth jumping into.
For example, there is a “Virtual Boy” system that is released. If you know anything about real gaming history, you’ll know that it tanked hard. Don’t make the same mistake in the world of Game Dev Story!
The other thing that is really interesting is the number of fans you can gain from promoting your games through advertising or at game conventions. You want to target the young market so that they become fans at an early age and stay with you as they grow older. It’s not super complicated, but it makes the game feel more like a game company simulation, which is what I had always wanted.
Let’s talk about the graphics. They are probably my favorite part of games from Kairosoft. All of their games use retro style pixelated sprites which lie somewhere between a NES and a SNES. It brings a lot of charm to my mobile gaming experience because I usually dismiss mobile games for being generic or too common. The retro graphics appeal to me greatly and they probably appeal to anyone that grew up playing 2D games.
There comes a certain point in the game where enough time has passed and it technically “finishes”. This means that there are no more events or advancements in console technology. However, you can keep going and continue developing games if you like.
In addition to making games, if you max out as much as you can, you’ll be able to develop your own gaming system and release it, becoming your own Nintendo/Sony!
Game Dev Story is available for both iOS and Android platforms, so everyone should be able to play it. A cool thing for iOS is if you change your system language to Japanese, the game will switch to Japanese too. This is great if you want to practice playing the game in Japanese and increase your reading skills!
Things that could be improved
As much as I love the game, there are a few things that I think could have been done better.
First, this game was originally designed for standard Japanese cell phones before making the move to smartphones, so navigating the tiny menus with a touch screen can be a bit awkward.
Second, the development of the gaming industry stops around the Playstation 2 and Gamecube if I remember correctly. I wish this would be updated so you could continue to advance until the Playstation 4, XBox One, etc.
Third, as you may have noticed in this Game Dev Story review, I don’t mention much about Microsoft and talk more about Sony and Nintendo. Well, there’s a reason for that. Game Dev Story’s universe is modeled after the Japanese market, which means the XBox is going to fail just like it has in real Japan. I wish the game reflected more of a world market instead of only Japan, but hey I’m glad we got this simulator at all.
Anyway, that’s all for my Game Dev Story review. This game is not going to appeal to everyone, but if you are a genuine fan of the gaming industry, I think you’ll fall in love with it.
And hey, if a gaming simulator is not what you’re looking for, Kairosoft makes tons of other different themed games that are sure to peak your interest. Try searching Kairosoft in your app store and see what games they have that appeal to you.