Wednesday, April 20, 2011

There goes my life: Game Dev Story

The other day I finally broke down and bought an iPod Touch. I've been wanting one quite a while now, but kept telling myself I didn't need it (my old iPod Classic still works fine) or that I couldn't afford it. I still may have been right on both counts (only three paychecks left - scary thought). But in the end I convinced myself that being able to access Kotoba and Anki on the go would be worth the investment.

Ah man, look at me - plugging Apple links all over the place. I feel like such a prostitute. I'll never be an Apple fanboy, but I do find myself with a grudging respect for the work they do.

So I downloaded Kotoba and am working up the courage to pay $25.00 for Anki. Not that he hasn't earned it - I'm just loathe to pay for something that (a) is free on another platform and (b) is roughly 10-20x the price of most other apps in the Apple Store.

What I wasn't prepared for is the spate of actually good-looking games. I had a heated argument once with a friend about whether or not any iPod device could qualify in its own right as a "gaming system." As you can probably guess, I was arguing the negative. Maybe I was....wrong?

The past couple nights I've stayed up 'til around 2:30 despite the my body's protestations (shut up you - gaming is fun!). The culprit? None other than a little gem developed by a Japanese game company called Kairo Park. It's called Game Dev Story, or ゲーム発展国 in Japanese. Kairo Park seems to create all manner of cute little sim-type games, but they mostly appear on Japanese phones. Game Dev Story and Hot Springs Story (an onsen-building sim) are the only two I've seen for sale in the Apple Store.

I've long been a sucker for sim games, from the time I first got my hands on Sim City for SNES. But why build cities when you can make video games?

That's right, Game Dev Story is a game in which you take on the role of the president of a startup game development company. Yes, a game about making games (how meta is that, Joe?). You hire staff, whom you can train and level up as you gain money and research data points; handle advertising; decide what kind of games to develop and which of your employees will handle which game elements; and perform a number of other tasks. As you earn money and become more successful, you move to bigger offices and can take on more staff. As the years pass, new consoles and portables are released, and you can choose which to develop for based upon their popularity with gamers, development potential, and cost to buy a license to make games for them. You can even eventually develop your own gaming system.

I won't give away too much in case you decide to give it a try (it's only a couple bucks). Suffice it to say, there are a lot of little surprises, and the localization is great as well. The game comes with both English and Japanese versions, so all you have to do is switch languages on your iPod to play either one. Right now I'm playing through once in English and then will go back and play it in Japanese.

This game may go on forever, but I plan to keep playing until it looks as if all the scripted events are finished (appearance of special hireable employees and release of new gaming systems, for the most part) and then give it a rest and get my Japanese on.

Anyway, this may be a niche game, but if you find yourself intrigued and own an iPod Touch or iPhone, I say go for it. There are definitely worse ways to spend $4. Like natto.


  1. I actually just bought a better version of this.

    The thing with an fm adaptor has just made driving more has an app to become anything...navi, stereo,ipod,entertainment guide,movie player....

  2. That's pretty sweet. Yeah, I can see the iPad having potential for something like that. Just seems a bit situational. Like in most cases I think I'd rather have a netbook. Mounted in the car, though...does look nice.

  3. Haha, that game within a game is pretty meta.

    I never got into the iPhone gaming. I bought a couple, such as the Loco Roco port/copy/ripoff called Rolando. It's actually great, but for some reason didn't hold my interest. The 3DS though, that's where portable gaming is at. But of course that's less convenient. It reminds of something Tycho of Penny Arcade fame said, and I can't remember the exact quote so I'm sort of paraphrasing but, "There is a number of portable electronics equipment people are willing to carry around with them at all times. And that number is one."