It’s not often that I hear about a game and feel the insatiable urge to play it that very second. Even the most heavily hyped games can be put aside for things like food and sleep, but Kairosoft isn’t your average app developer. Their first app, Game Dev Story [$3.99 / Lite], not only sucked the life out of me, but caused me to lose three pounds after not eating for a good day/ day and a half. I lived Game Dev Story. I breathed the fiery air of creativity. It was a taste of something wonderful. (Read our review if you don't believe me.)

Instead of pumping out a sequel using their tried and true formula though, Kairosoft felt that a little change was in order. They decided that instead of creating a new game development sim, they would jump way across the zen garden and create Hot Springs Story [$3.99], a full on sim in the realm of Sim City. Gone are the zany people that you could hire and fire; the people are now just customers that come and go at will.

My road down nostalgia lane isn’t precluding a bad game though, as Hot Springs Story is quite possibly the most soul sucking game (in the best way possible) that I’ve played since... Game Dev Story. Like a typical building sim, Hot Springs Story lets you build “rooms” in a new, up in coming spa. You build rooms to sleep in, spas to steam in, little restaurants to eat in, Panchinko rooms to gamble away all your money, etc. Being a Japanese style spa though, the challenge of the game comes with creating a zen-like environment for your customers. Certain items will get boosts when placed next to certain items, while others items need to be placed next to natural rocks and pretty plants to succeed. Try to get cutesy and western with blocks of this and globs of that though and you’ll create yourself a hot springs disaster. Don’t you dare ruin it for the locals.

What makes a Kairosoft game really great, aside from consistently solid game mechanics, is their ability to make a gluttony of options seem accessible. In addition to just building your zen paradise, it’s up to you to buy add on booster items for different rooms, buy new rooms altogether, invest in different companies around the city for various reasons, advertise to different target groups, and submit to different magazines for spa rankings. Winning first place in the hot springs magazine isn’t quite as awesome as having the creepy bear mascot from the trade show in Game Dev Story, but the larger than life trophy you get is a nice prize indeed.

While fans (and superfans... there are plenty in our forum) of Game Dev Story will undoubtedly be thrilled with Hot Springs Story, newbies to the land of Kairosoft will probably cringe a bit at the less than perfect graphics and the initial chaotic nature of the action. There’s a lot going on at once, and until you really get the hang of what everything does it can seem daunting. Stick with it though and you’ll definitely be rewarded with some of the best gameplay in the App Store. Just think of Kairosoft as that band that was tough to grasp but eventually rewarded you with some kind of religious experience. You’ll thank me later.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Truth

    So wanted to play Game Dev Story, and now this, which looks even better. But they don't seem to have any plans on making it universal or having a separate iPad version at all.

  • Dumpling321

    I really REALLY hope they plan to release the rest of the kairosoft games, from the look of the japanese site they've released 20 other games... and i'm sure every single one of them is just as addictive as GDS and HSS

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1570150060 Rogier Colijn

      I definately hope they will, the cruise ship simulator looks AWESOME!!! But it seems like they're doing translations 24/7, since they're pumping out games pretty fast :) and the quality of the hot springs translation was better as well.

  • Starmonkey

    I didn't really understand game dev story. Is this a little easier? It looks more like zoo tycoon than anything else. Which is great! I've been waiting forna good zoo tycoon clone.

  • http://twitter.com/GDMFSOB81 GDMFSOB81

    I'm having a weird problem with this game that nobody else seems to be having... How do you scroll text boxes if they contain more text than fits the box? I've tried everything (tapping everywhere, swiping every which way, etc) and some guy on another blog gave tips but nothing works, and Kairosoft didn't respond to my tweet.

    Anyone else playing this on 3GS and can scroll text boxes? How do you do it?

    (Boy does this feel like a stupid question to be posting like everywhere, but I swear I've tried everything that makes sense to me. :/)

    • http://twitter.com/bangpowcrash Chris Hall

      I'm not sure if this will help, but on the very bottom of the screen is a little red triangle. If you hit it, an a huge control console will pop up. The down button in that console seems to be the trick to some of my sticky text scroll boxes.

      The majority of the text boxes worked though if I just touched the screen, held it for a second, and dragged up or down.

      Hope this helps!

      • http://twitter.com/GDMFSOB81 GDMFSOB81

        Thanks for helping, Chris! Unfortunately, I've already tried the d-pad idea... I can't get it to do anything but skip to the next box. :/

        This is my first experience like this - buying a game that just doesn't work for me and, well, how am I supposed to communicate with a company that doesn't list an e-mail adress and doesn't visit its Twitter? :(

      • phatbhuda

        On text boxes that can scroll, there is a brown scroll thumb on the right hand side of the box. Moving it scrolls the text box a whole page at a time.

        I'm playing on a 3GS and have no issues.

      • http://twitter.com/GDMFSOB81 GDMFSOB81

        I don't have a brown scroll thumb... I have a little arrow that does nothing.
        http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5139/5498624457_b6ede71cde.jpg

        Here's the help menu, which doesn't even have the arrow:
        http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5014/5498623925_546d3f0561.jpg

        And page 2 of help, where you can see it doesn't continue:
        http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5217/5498624201_4f7f8c0e7e.jpg

        So this sucks, I want to play! :(

  • The Truth

    this is great, hoping for a localized version of the game dealer next!

  • Babylandlord

    Does anyone know how I can stop playing this and SLEEP???

  • Elmo0629

    Is there a way to move, or sell, a room once you build it or do you have to tear it down?

  • Runmaster

    Here's a good question, in the gamescreens in the app store, you can see what looks like pools ... how to get this and the other upgraded rooms as I have been playing to the end of the game at 16 years and had very little new rooms open up.

  • seajeigh

    runmaster i was wondering the exact same thing!!!!

  • Bfn8r

    I agree with runmaster, i cant seem to get the pool at all, and I have played the whole day today just to try to find the pool, the last thing I unlocked was the lanturn. When do you get pool and other miscealaneous things?

  • http://www.tsimpountiii.gr Nikos Chatzigeorgiadis

    game dev story took many days from my life... i would prefer a little longer replayability though! but still! game dev story remains one of my favorite iphone games!

  • http://www.tsimpountiii.gr Nikos Chatzigeorgiadis

    game dev story took many days from my life... i would prefer a little longer replayability though! but still! game dev story remains one of my favorite iphone games!

  • Lady K Ro

    I want the pool soooo bad :( i've played for 26 years and i can't find it T_T

Hot Springs Story Reviewed by Chris Hall on . Rating: 4.5