When Game Dev Story hit the App Store it became an instant hit. Sure, it had already been popular on PC, but the iOS version was a perfect example of how to package a sim style game on a small screen.
While everyone was waiting for a sequel to Game Dev Story, Kairosoft have launched something a bit different. Hot Spring Story is set in an Asian Hot Springs Spa, a popular resort for those wanting to get away and unwind in some natural springs.
The game will be instantly recognisable to Game Dev Story fans as it uses a very similar layout, but Hot Springs Story has a few important enhancements. The first thing you'll notice is that the game now has an optional landscape layout. This makes it far easier to see what's going on over a wider space. It will also let you zoom in and out.
But before you can appreciate the nuances of the game, you'll need to set up your hot springs resort. After giving it a name, you will need to build some rooms and, of course, the all-important springs themselves. Placing plants and stones around the springs and rooms increases their popularity and makes them more desirable. This increases your customers' happiness and their willingness to spend more money as well as to recommend you to the various publications that rate your resort.
Popularity comes at a price, though. The more popular a room ,spring or piece of equipment is, the more it will cost the customer. Make your resort too expensive and customers will run out of money, leaving them to sit in their room for the rest of their stay, bored and unhappy.
Investing in local companies will gain you new items (flowers from the gardener, lanterns from the designer) and clients (business-men from the Software Designer). Items help raise popularity with certain clients and catering for each type will give you a wider appeal, which all leads to more money in the pot at the end of the day.
Get enough money coming in and you can buy more land to build more springs and rooms for customers to stay in, but you'll also be paying more land rent to the landlord and your running costs will be higher.
This balance is the basis for the game. Can you keep everyone happy and still turn a profit after paying the landlord and running costs? While it all seems like a lot of stats to consider on paper, Kairosoft are masters of making it all flow smoothly and balancing out your resort will become second nature.
The package is wrapped up in the same type of beautiful retro graphics as Game Dev Story , the zooming allowing you to see far more detail in the characters this time around. Though, at first glance, the animations and graphics seem basic, the small details, expressions and cuteness of the whole thing will get to you in time, as will the addictive nature of the game.
Some may argue that the game is difficult to understand at times. There is little in the way of help or explanation about certain features and only with trial and error will you find out about things like what the different springs do and how to get hold of objects to up your popularity, but this always feels like a voyage of discovery rather than a chore.
Hot Springs Story is another triumph of balance between the hard nosed world of number crunching and cute character management. The beautifully detailed characters and scenery hide a devious game engine that will see you playing long into the night.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 10
- Longevity: 10
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