murdouken's Game Dev Story (iPhone) review

Game Dev Story Review

Game Dev Story is the first iPhone game that I have played until my eyes felt like bleeding, seriously. I downloaded it thinking it would be just another small game that was only good in 5 minute bursts but oh how wrong I was. I sat and played this game from start to finish in around 3 and a half hours, which is a massive gaming session for me although some of you might call it pathetic. 
I'll start with my only negative point about this game. The size of the screen. I know it's a pretty minor thing but for some unknown reason the developers thought it would be cool for the game to only take up the centre of the screen, which means there is two humongous black bars at the top and bottom. While this doesn't really damage the gameplay at all, it drags down an otherwise solid presentation.

 Why is my game called Robonia Online? I don't know.
The graphics themselves are incredibly simple but aesthetically pleasing, with small pixelated people who's sprites are somewhat reminiscent of old 16-bit games. There are three different office environments and although these look fairly nice, they aren't anything special and feel fairly generic. There's also a wide variety of people to choose from in the game, including a masked hacker called Mister-X and an Arabian oil baron, each with their own individual characteristics and visual style. 
This being a game about game development, naturally you are going to have to make games.  The game making process is fairly simple where you choose a genre (Action, RPG, Simulator ect) and a theme (Pirates, Robots, Mystery and such.) Some themes go together very well and thus will be more succesful, for example Action and Robots and some not so well, maybe a romantic shooter or a historical golf game. After choosing your genre and theme, you choose a development style. This can be speed, quality, research or budget. All of the development styles cost different amounts of money but change the speed of development and the quality of your final product. Finally, you have the direction which allows you to pump points into eight characteristics. Cuteness, Approachability, Simplicity, Niche Appeal, Realism, Polish, Game World and Innovation. These different direction attributes work better with different genres and themes, and if you can match the direction with your style of game you will receive bonus points in development. The actual development of the game then begins, and your staff begin working hard on the game. As development progresses, you will receive points in 4 areas. Fun, Creativity, Graphics and Sound. The more points you have in each category, the better your game will be received by critics once it is finished.  
The gameplay after this is a combination of sitting aroun d and waiting for your staff to do stuff, taking risks and generally making executive decisions. It starts off feeling simple and gradually gets more complex as you progress through your 20 year long game development career. At the start, you can pretty much do whatever the fuck you want and the game will hold you hand, want to make a Golf RPG? Do it now. Want to make a Ninja Simulator? Do it now. If you go bust straight away, then the game will give you a bit of a bonus to keep you alive and that's when you have to start taking things slightly more seriously, taking into account genre popularity, theme popularity, demographics and all sorts.  But what would a game be without a goal? Your career lasts 20 years (You can play longer but that doesn't count towards your high scores) and in that 20 years, you have to shift as many units as you can to make as much money as possible.  
Describing all of the aspects of Game Dev Story would take a long time, and that's time I just don't have as I wanted to keep this review fairly short. All I can say to conclude is that Game Dev Story is an incredible game with an unexpected level of complexity that will challenge you to become ultra-succesful, but at the same time is easy to pick up and play in short bursts. At the mega low price of $2.99, it's a must buy for any owner of an iPhone.
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