Game Dev Story (Review)

Why are you reading this review instead of playing the game?!

Throughout 2011, I heard about Game Dev Story an awful lot. Professional reviewers were praising the game and apparently it was selling really well on app stores. Well, about half a year after the game’s release on iOS, I decided to dust my iPod Touch off and check the game out.

So, what is Game Dev Story? A very basic summary is that you are in charge of a video game development company (games, staffing, etc.) and must turn it into an industry crushing behemoth! Does this sound fun? Well if you have a fondness for simulation games (think anything by Maxis) or just video game development in general, then this game should definitely appeal to you.

Players start off with a pretty small office to work out of and, right off the bat, your secretary will ask you to hire three employees to get the company started. Potential hirees all come with various silly names that poke fun at the entertainment industry (Donny Jepp, Stephen Jobson, Walt Sidney). These NPCs all have job-specific titles such as coder, producer, writer, and so forth. Each title implies what field the characters excel at. Each hirable NPC also has four main statistics – programming, scenario, graphics, and sound. These four statistics will, ultimately, be the deciding factors in who you hire and who you give passes to. They will determine how good your employees are at designing your games. The programming statistic generally improves overall development of the games and the proposal writing of each game. Scenario affects how creative your games will be, which is vital in the grand scheme of the game. Graphics and sound are, predictably, the graphics and sound of your games.

Players will have to choose which consoles are right to develop for and when.

When you start, employees will have very low statistics. Because of this fact you should not expect your games to succeed very much in the beginning and they will, at best, just cover lost expenses.However, as you gradually make more money off of your stinkers that you release, you’ll be able to level up and train your employees so that they become more skilled. Leveling up is pretty basic and simply uses research points, a sort of currency you earn from simply working on and debugging games. Training is a different story and requires you to spend your company’s actual money. You can choose various activities for your employees to train in, and all will increase at least one of the four statistics possessed by them. Eventually, simply leveling and training your employees becomes less and less beneficial over time and, once they appear to be at their limits without having oodles of cash thrown into training them, you have to command your secretary to bring in a batch of new applicants who are hopeful to work for you. In most cases, you will have to fire an existing employee to hire a new one, but this is rarely a problem since the new employees are usually better except for very late in the game. The only downside to firing long time employees is that you may feel a little sad letting go of an employee that you’ve had working for your company since the start of the game.

In terms of actually making games, there is a fun amount of options here. You get to choose the console to develop for along with the game’s name, genre, and theme. Want to make a cowboy RPG called Space Goons? Feel free to do that! If the RPG genre and cowboy theme are both popular at the time of the game’s development, then Space Goons could easily become a smash hit! As the years go by, the general public will be more partial to certain genres and themes than others. One year they may want action games and the next they might want racing games. It is not essential to give the public what they want because, if your staff is skilled enough, the game will succeed regardless. Still, adhering to the demands of the public will usually always net you at least 25% more in overall sales. You really can’t say no to that, can you?

Winning the coveted grand prize at the Global Game Awards will be high on your list of objectives to fulfill.

Every now and then, new consoles will be announced by companies that parody real life corporations (Senga releases the Exodus, Sonny will unveil the Playstatus, etc.) and you will have to pay handsome licensing fees to develop for these new devices. Since older consoles will eventually become obsolete and stop selling entirely, it is essentially to jump ship to newer and better consoles when you have the funds available to do so.

There are two annual events that are eventually introduced which also parody real life counterparts. GameDex is an annual convention that is clearly Game Dev Story’s version of E3. You can choose how much to spend on your company’s booth and presentation at Game Dex, or you can choose not to go entirely. This will, however, affect your popularity with the fanbase you’ve amassed over time. The second event is the Global Game Awards. This is basically the Oscars, but for games. There are a few categories to win (including the silly “worst game of the year”), but players will ultimately want their games to win the grand prize of the award show which is simply titled “the grand prize.” By winning it, you will be rewarded with a nice one million dollar prize. This is very helpful at the start of the game, but tends to feel pretty miniscule later on. The problem with this is that you are incredibly unlikely to win the grand prize for a few years at least and, when you do, it just isn’t much of a big deal anymore.

In terms of presentation, I have to commend this game for having a very cute look to it that is a breeze to navigate. Graphics are very reminiscent of the 16 bit era and are exceptionally easy on the eyes. Since Game Dev Story is a Japanese developed game, you can of course expect a few colourful and silly looking scenes which should make you smile. The sound of the game is a different story though, and I had to turn the music off within minutes of playing. It truly is horrendous to listen to, and the sound effects are only marginally better.

Fictional magazine reviewers will rate your games upon release and this can drastically affect your sales.

Ignoring the fact that this game has pretty bad music and sound effects, the rest of the package is really incredible. If you like simulation titles, then you will have a lot of trouble putting this game down as you will frequently find yourself saying “I’ll just make one more game, but then I have to get up” only to find yourself making five, six, maybe seven more games before you manage to put your iOS device down! The gameplay truly is addictive, but in a very pleasant way. Is Game Dev Story worth checking out? Without a doubt. Hop to it, folks!

Pros:
+ Amazing replay value with each game being a new experience.
+ Graphics are charming, cute, and simple.
+ Very easy game to pick up and play with no prior experience.

Cons:
– The sound is bad. Really, really bad. Final score isn’t 9+ because of it alone.
– Certain gameplay aspects become pointless over time.
– It’s not available to console and PC gamers!

Final Score

8.6/10

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Tekken Resolute (Review)


“The game to buy if you want to smash Nina Williams’ face in on the go.”

Imagine my surprise when I found out that there was a Tekken game available on the BlackBerry App World. I could not imagine my little BlackBerry Bold 9700 being able to run a 3D Tekken game, so I was suspicious at first. After checking out the screenshots of the game however, I learned that this was a 2D fighter. Quite a change for Tekken! As a huge fan of the Tekken franchise, I purchased the game for a few dollars and gave it a try.

The most upsetting thing that I learned right away is that the game will not play music and sound effects at the same time, forcing you to pick which you would rather hear. This was a little disappointing, as both the music and sound effects make the Tekken experience into what it is.

From the main menu, you can choose between a few options. Arcade, Story, Practice, and Tekken Force are all present. There is also a “Custom” option on the main menu, which I presume is for making your own outfits.

Tekken Force and Custom are locked initially, and I have not experienced either feature since, well, the game just isn’t interesting enough for me to want to unlock them. I have a pretty good idea as to how Tekken Force would play anyway, and I severely doubt that the custom costumes would be any good at all in this mobile Tekken game. So, let’s head straight to the reason why anyone would even buy this game – to play some Tekken!

There are eight characters. Jin, Kazuya, King, Law, Nina, Paul, Xiaoyu, and Yoshimitsu. Initially, only Jin and Xiaoyu are available. The rest of the cast must be unlocked by completing game modes.

I immediately took notice of the graphics when my first fight began. They are really quite nice for a mobile fighter. The backgrounds look fairly vibrant and the character sprites animate very well, except for King who seems to be suffering from the worst case of Parkinson’s that I have ever seen. King, in his idle stance, is moving and shuffling at a frighteningly uncontrollable speed, and it just looks very awkward. The rest of the characters look just fine though, and I was actually genuinely impressed. They really do look pretty decent, and I could tell that effort was put into the sprites.

The controls aren’t as bad as what I’ve had to endure in some other games on my BlackBerry (I’m looking at you, Mega Man 3), but they leave a lot to be desired for. If you are exceptionally lazy, you can play the entire game with just the BlackBerry’s trackpad. Pressing it will make your character perform a punch while moving your finger across it will, of course, make your character move as well. If you want a little more depth (which you should), you can perform other kicks and punches by pressing a few buttons on your phone’s keypad. All attack and movement buttons are cluttered together, so if you are on a BlackBerry Bold such like I am, the controls become difficult to manage and many mistakes will be had. The game is certainly playable however, it’s just very difficult to adjust to.

The music and sound effects are hardly even sufficient in this game, and you can tell that they are of a very low quality. I find that I enjoy the game most with the sounds turned off.

Despite the fact that this game has a story mode, there isn’t much of a story at all beyond the characters trash talking each other during matches. The interaction between Jin and Paul alone was cringe-worthy.

The fighting itself is awfully simple, which could be expected from a mobile fighter. AI opponents have a habit of just walking into attacks, and they are really slow at being any bit defensive. Wins will come often and easily, and there is literally no point in trying to pull of any signature moves with your chosen characters because they won’t be needed.

The gameplay really isn’t too bad. It’s flawed and lacks a lot of depth, but it can briefly hold my attention. It’s not really awful or anything, it just doesn’t have anything to hook me and make me want to keep playing. I suppose that I could just say that the gameplay is bland.

Overall, this game could serve as a decent two or three minute diversion, but it is unlikely that you will want to sink much time into this game to unlock all of the goodies it presents when you can just as easily do that on Tekken 6 for the 360, PSP, or 360, or on Tekken Tag Tournament 2 next summer. Still, it’s enjoyable in small doses. If you want to beat up some popular Tekken characters on the go, then this may be a decent game to check out for only a few dollars.

Final Score

6.2/10

Brain Challenge (Review)

“Exercising your brain has never been this much fun.”

When I wanted to put a decent game on my BlackBerry Bold 9700 a few months back, I wasn’t sure what to go with. I had tried Mega Man 3, but found the controls to be absolutely terrible. This ruled out platformers. I thought for a while about what would work on a keypad based mobile phone. The answer was Brain Challenge.

Brain Challenge consists of practice modes and daily IQ/stress tests that determine how much of your brain you’re using, or how stressed you may be. I don’t consider these tests to be entirely accurate, but it’s fun trying to improve your score day after day.

The tests present you with games that force you to use a wide variety of skills, such as memory, timed reflexes, and mathematics. Some of the games are quite fun, such as the one that makes you select which path a frog will traverse and which point he will end up at. Others are not so fun to me, like the one that has you trying to press a button on your phone the very second that a black outline aligns itself with a shape’s outer perimeter.

The better you do at the games, the harder they will be next time you play them. Over time, I recognized a very significant jump in the difficulty of the memory based games, which the game tells me I am best at.

The controls are great on the BlackBerry Bold. Using the trackball is a real joy, as it is more responsive than any video game controller. I have very rarely made mistakes while playing any of the games in Brain Challenge, though I have been slow to input my answers a few times because the BlackBerry trackball can in fact be very sensitive, but this is not the game’s fault.

Sound is actually quite annoying in Brain Challenge, and I always find myself turning it off to prevent myself from getting a headache. It does sound quite bad, especially the main menu music which I fear not even the composer of it may love.

While it isn’t going to win any awards, Brain Challenge is a great puzzle game to play on the go or when you have a few minutes to kill, and is probably my favourite game that I have on my BlackBerry, beating out The Sims 3 and Guitar Hero 5 Mobile by a very large margin. If puzzle games are your thing and you have a BlackBerry, give this one a shot.

Final Score

7/10