If you love playing games, you’re probably also interested in the creative process that goes into making them. From dreaming up a concept to writing the code and hunting for bugs, Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story lets you take control of the game-making process in a clever simulation. Since 2010, Kairosoft has continued to regularly release engaging, cutesy sims for iOS, letting you run your own spa, space station, racetrack, and more. Here’s our guide to the best of Kairosoft on iOS.
Game Dev Story
Game Dev Story put you in the role of the manager of a videogame company, tasked with creating the best games to compete in a busy marketplace. Covering the expansive growth of gaming in the 80s and 90s, Game Dev Story requires a combination of creativity, luck, and perseverance. You’ll have to make decisions about who to hire, how much effort to put into the game’s technical aspects, and how to spend your marketing budget. In Game Dev Story, you can even read virtual reviews from gaming publications, and promote your game at an E3-like conference. We were amazed by Game Dev Story’s attention to detail and industry jokes, so be sure to play it if you’ve ever dreamed of making it big as a game developer.
Key Quote: “At every stage of your virtual game’s development, you’ll have some hard choices to make. Do you hire an outside talent to spruce up a game’s graphics, or throw it to the company designer? Should you develop award-winning games for the latest and greatest consoles, or pump out cheap garbage to make a quick buck? This level of complexity is a rare thing for iPhone strategy games.”
Hot Springs Story
Kairosoft’s next sim wasn’t about producing a hit game– instead, it was about providing your guests with a relaxing spa experience. Hot Springs Story let you plot out a sprawling complex of tubs, gardens, and salons. Like in Game Dev Story, you have to check out in-game magazines to learn about developing trends in the world of relaxation. The graphics and controls were improved over Game Dev Story, and we found Hot Springs Story to be even more accessible.
Key Quote: “Hot Springs Story applies Game Dev Story’s same awesome pixel art, user interface, and concepts to a spa setting. It’s fantastic, and even better than Game Dev Story, except for the steam-bathing old ladies.”
Epic Astro Story
After releasing a series of similar strategy games, like Pocket Academy and Mega Mall Story, we wanted Kairosoft to do something a little different. Epic Astro Story delivered a unique sci-fi simulation that let you build a base on another planet, and explore with a team of Star Trek-style heroes. You start by creating a local economy using mines and factories, and then open residential areas for visitors and friendly aliens. You’ll also have to explore the planet using a search party, and equip them with weapons. Like the RPG-themed Dungeon Village, Epic Astro Story has a bit more action than the earlier business-focused simulations.
Key Quote: “There’s enough of the same type of gameplay we’ve come to know and appreciate from the company that’ll you’ll feel at home, but the exploring and battling that’s involved adds an exciting new element that will make you want to spend hours upon hours figuring out the right way to do things and finding new places to exploit– er, we mean explore.”
Grand Prix Story
In Grand Prix Story, you could manage your own team of race-car drivers who compete for glory. Grand Prix Story offered some original additions to Kairosoft’s brand of simulations, like cleverly-titled sponsors for your vehicles, but we found the actual racing to be the least exciting part of the game. For a game set on a high-speed racetrack, the slow pace of progress was also a bit frustrating. It’s no Asphalt 8, but for a more cerebral racing-themed game, Grand Prix Story is a solid purchase.
Key Quote: “Racing fans who enjoy managing and don’t mind the lack of gripping excitement will especially enjoy this entry. Fortunately, we also found that the game can be fun for people whose closest experience with racing is Mario Kart, which is a sure sign of a good game.”
A combination of SimCity and Pokemon, Beastie Bay is a unique sim where you have to explore a tropical island filled with exotic creatures. As you build new structures, you’ll have to also fight random creatures to collect resources. There’s a considerable amount of strategy when it comes to deciding how to prepare your creatures for battle, and we found the visuals and music to be as infectious as a tropical disease.
Key Quote: “Beastie Bay is an adorable tale split into Pokemon and SimCity halves, where both sides battle to take precedence, but instead find a happy medium.”
Tomorrow, we hang out with Gun Bros, Glu’s freemium twin-stick shooter series.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.