Campaign The Game sounds an awful lot like some sort of political simulator where you follow a candidate through the rigamarole that is eventually becoming the president of the United States. But it’s a lot less boring than that, actually. In fact, it’s like a hyperactive Game Dev Story with gorgeous neon colors, silly ad campaigns, and the ’80s.
Rather than centering on a modern day video game development studio, Campaign The Game (developed by Insolita Studios and Thomas Egas) places you in a 1980s advertising agency. It’s your job to figure out what works and what doesn’t for each client, and the better your judgment, the higher profile your agency will eventually become. While the similarities to Kairosoft’s excellent and hilarious Game Dev Story are striking, Campaign still manages to stand on its own as an excellent alternative once you’ve exhausted your Kairosoft products.
Working hard or hardly working? Ha!
Once you’ve chosen a company name and gotten down to business you’ll take on your first big client. Clients have needs to be fulfilled by certain demographics (children, the elderly, etc) so it’s prudent to assign a suitable member of your team to work on the ad campaign. The more stars attached to your client, the higher credibility you can receive by performing well. You’re expected to assign a specific characteristic to each ad campaign that you project will make an appropriate package, and the details that go along with it. If you’re gearing an ad about soccer to appeal to elderly customers when the targeted audience is children, you’re going to find your ads bombing.
Mainly, you need to rely on common sense to create a viable product, and try not to dream up any boneheaded creations like you might have done in Game Dev Story, where historical romance/ puzzle games may have constituted 90% of your company’s financial earnings. Here, err on the side of logic and you’ll rise through the ranks to a bigger company in no time. You also need to decide how your advertising dollars are better spent and which channels it behooves you to go through: do you want to draw in a television audience or radio listeners? Do you want simple print ads instead? How you choose to reach your customers plays a large role in your success as well.
Now you messed up.
Making a name for yourself in Campaign can be quite an easy process at times, and since the game is otherwise simple to understand and consistent with successes enough that you can find it fairly quickly even in your first few hours with the game, more hardcore players may be turned off. Once you’ve played through several in-game years’ worth of varying ad campaigns there isn’t much to stick around for afterward. And though the inside jokes and pop culture references are plentiful, seeing them recycled numerous times on subsequent playthroughs can grate on the nerves.
But you’ll probably keep coming back if you do dig Campaign’s bold, colorful style and its loud art direction. Slick and retro pixelated characters and flattering menu screens are a treat for the eyes, and the look simply works for the game as a whole. It’s gorgeous, even if familiar, and the cheery soundtrack complements the lighthearted spirit of the fledgling little ad company you’re now heading. The main menu in particular, as well as the Michael Jackson posters on the wall and other recognizable imagery, are especially interesting.
Campaign The Game is a welcome alternative to ground-up sims like what Kairosoft popularized on iOS devices. It’s not completely perfect, but it brings its own brand of charm to a market that can always use more familiar gameplay if it stays as polished as this. There are plenty of ways to start up a successful company and keep it cranking along, and players familiar with the genre should find a good number of reasons to explore this venture, especially since it’s good for a few laughs.