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.
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