Modern Review: Game Dev Story (Android / iOS)

Review-Game-Dev-StoryTo confess, I am a bit of a sim nut: Sim City, Theme Park, Gansters: Organised Crime and more recently I have sunk my gnashers into Prison Architect (personal tip on the latter - build a fence first...) But apart from the sublime indie Xbox Live game Arcade Craft, I have had an itch for a video game sim that I couldn't scratch. Game Dev Story by Kairosoft on Android (and iOS) may be the answer...

A simple premise - run a small game development office and make games. You get to name your company so obviously I went with Ocean Software. The return on your sales allows you to hire / train staff, buy licences and advertising etc. Rinse and repeat. On paper it doesn't sound too exciting but the presentation is what nails the experience. The whole game is a tongue in cheek look back at the history of video game consoles. Each time a new console becomes available - the game tells you if its going to be a great console to make games for. If you know your stuff (you are on Retro Collect so why wouldn't you?) then you can avoid clunkers like the Virtual Boy and Game Gear as their limited appeal will damage you in the long run.

You begin with a small office and a couple of rookie staff. With little funds available, making do (as is the case in most sim games) is what counts in the early stages. Once you have chosen a specific console to make a game for (they are depicted as real life consoles - DS, Saturn etc - but have silly names like Intendro DM and Senga Uranus) you need to pick a combination of genres. These include anything from traditional RPG's, shooters and puzzle games etc. Then a sub genre needs choosing - robot, pirate, chess, even sumo! Getting a great match will make a better game where as choosing something like a train sim dating game will get negative reviews, reducing your sales. Experimentation is key - the more you mix the more experience points you unlock to upgrade your next title and the more genres you can use.

Once chosen the game goes into development which has four attributes - fun, creativity, graphics and sound. Working a fine balance between these will make a better selling game. As you progress you earn floppy disks (research) which can be used to purchase boosters bumping up your stats - very handy when trying to get that #1 chart game! Each staff member has a specific skill - designer, writer, sound and artist - picking the right person for each part of the development cycle is key in getting the best end product. If you use the same person for the same part on each game, their work deteriorates so you need to plan ahead and sometimes sacrifice quality for your next big game. Once finished you iron out any bugs that crop up on the way (you can release a game with bugs if you want); give your new shooter adventure game a suitable title - 'Pork Sausage' - and ship it off!


Reviews are scathing... Fret not though! Keep plugging away, training up staff and buying advertising space and the scores will soon rise, giving you more money to buy more console licences. On my first play through I found some licences simply unobtainable - the Playstatus 2 was so far out of reach I just stuck to the DS equivalent as it still had a decent market share (like in reality). Advertising is a key part of the game, the more you spend the greater the fan base - the more sales you get. Each year you have the option to attend a yearly expo (don't forget to hire those booth babes!) and the chance to win big money at the game of the year awards.

Graphically the game is the current popular pseudo retro block look that every game seems to be. But the subject matter in mind, it suits perfectly. Think isometric Habbo Hotel (if anyone had the displeasure), cute animations and bright bubbly colours. That 'I'll make just one more game' train of thought pops into your head and before you know it you have played 8 years game time. Sadly Game Dev only has a 20 year life span (up to the Wii) which is a little anticlimactic but the game does let you continue on. The most annoying niggle I found was that there isn't much interactivity with your staff. You hire, fire and train sure but you can't decorate the office. You can upgrade twice to a bigger one which gives more staff hiring to do, but why can't I add a water cooler to improve staff morale? It would give extra depth rollicking staff who lay idle setting fire to the kitchen instead of working bugs out of games at the end of a dev cycle.

The sound is hit and miss, the ditty that plays when you are told you have a successful game combo always peaks excitement but the in game tunes are very samey and grate. Phone app games though don't tend to rely on sound so muting it isn't a hindrance. Like all sim games in history, Game Dev Story's biggest issue is what do you do when you have all the money? The fun is the struggle to get rich, but interest seems to dwindle once you have achieved big bucks and you win the game of the year award. Still it will always be funny when your #1 best selling shooter adventure game 'Pork Sausage' gets overtaken by your new dating sim 'Pervy Dave.'

Game Dev Story (Android / iOS) Gameplay

Game Dev Story has a free demo available on Android (iOS also available) and doesn't cost the earth to purchase. There are NO pay to win elements or extra fees to play. Considering I have spent more hours on this than some AAA titles I own - it is definitely worth a look in.

Link: Game Dev Story on Google Play Store

Link: Game Dev Story on Apple App Store

Last Updated ( 01 March 2015 )  

James 'ewjim' Evans

Jim is a self confessed know it all when it comes to 16-bit gaming. With a strange fondness of playing rubbish videogames for the fun of it, there is no stoop too low he won't go to for entertainment.

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(Link to this comment) bobskie 2015-03-01 18:08
Downloaded thanks for telling me about this looks like fun!
(Link to this comment) Dekumoon 2015-03-01 19:17
Dem best Mobile game evar.
(Link to this comment) Tomleecee 2015-03-01 20:50
Interesting review, this looks like something I'd enjoy. I don't have any games on my iPad at the moment but I think I'll investigate this one. Cheers :)
+1 (Link to this comment) NES4Life 2015-03-03 12:43
I really enjoyed this game for quite a while. Definitely worth a purchase! The only problem is that after a couple of run throughs the game does not change so there's no real longevity (but don't let that stop you). My only pieces of advise:
- Once you move office once or twice start to change your employee's jobs (you need to buy some book thing from the travelling sales man)
- An employee who is fully cross-trained can become a hardware engineer and then you can make a console!
- You can ace the game by making a console and then by only developing for your own hardware
- If you hire a hacker change his job straight away to make him productive
- Don't use bug spray unless on a tight deadline... you'll need those points
+1 (Link to this comment) bobskie 2015-03-05 23:13
Been playing this constantly since o downloaded. I also recommend. Making my own console now!

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