Kairosoft’s Grand Prix Story [$2.99] feels more like Game Dev Story [$3.99 / Lite] than any of the other studio’s subsequent releases following the launch of the overly-cutesy and absorbing simulation game about making games. In both games, there’s a lot of overhead before you can see any practical applications or meaningful progress. There are also a ton of hidden systems and mechanics to find and discover as the game moves you along with its forty foot stick with a dangling carrot on the end. Also, in both games your race to be the best is often determined by the time you put in being the worst. You have to click with and then master both games’ mechanics in order to see profit and, yeah, that can be a tall order for mobile.

Grand Prix Story specifically is a painfully slow-burning simulation with a familiar set of problems that plague almost every Kairosoft release -- lack of feedback, too many hidden or unexplained systems or mechanics, a bad tutorial, and a steep difficulty curve -- but it’s also a fun title that hits all the notes that it needs to. Its systems are deep and defined enough, the racing is oddly entertaining even though its just a conglomeration of dice rolls, it’s burst-y, and the overall atmosphere, action, and theme play well off each other.

In the game, you’ll play the manager of several racing teams. You’ll never strap into a car, but you’ll make them and research them, tune parts and find new ones, set up and cancel a conga line of lucrative sponsorships, and subtly guide your guys to victory by putting all the materials and constituent parts of the simulation into your cars. It’s a bit heady, but once you put in a couple of hours, you’ll quickly grasp all the concepts. I realize that we all can’t spend our lives indebted to Kairosoft though, so if time is an issue, this isn’t the game for you at all.

At first, you’ll be given a single car and a few races to compete in. You’ll need to hire mechanics to fix your car, contract a driver, add new parts, and discover research points while racing this vehicle. There are tons of cars to build and even more parts to apply to your car, most of which have standard “you get this, but you lose a bit of this” stat-lines. Interestingly, Grand Prix Story sets itself up for you to compete against the simulation; by increasing the parameters of your driver, mechanics, and your parts, you’ll receive way better performance results from a car and in races.

There are no actual racing mechanics -- when you enter into a race, you simply watch how your driver and car perform… over and over and over and over again. It’s really quite mind-numbing to watch hundreds of of races over the haul of the experience, yet there’s something oddly compelling about each outing. Hilariously, I’m personally connecting with my team and my cars and I want to see races through regardless of the outcome. I know that’s cheesy, but when you spend hours and hours of time beefing up team members, vehicles, and individual parts, there’s a certain thrill in seeing the fruits of your labor in motion.

It's important to note that you’ll randomly earn research points as you race. And as you place higher and higher, you’ll earn more points with sponsorships. After enough of the latter, you’ll receive new parts and new sponsorships, as well as a little side-dough to spend on better drivers and better team members.

“Team” is the most interesting concept introduced in Grand Prix Story. You’ll eventually get to control several and you’ll have to babysit all of them. Eventually, you’ll be able to race a handful of cars at once, ratcheting up your potential to earn research and extra cash in a single race. Once a year in the simulation, you’ll participate in the Grand Prix, which is a series of races. When you conquer it, you’ll get a chance to upgrade your garage and give yourself even more to do.

Aside from the frustration of having to wait and watch for most of the game’s finer points of its simulation -- and that might be more a result of the reviewing process than anything else -- I’ve been having a positive and good time with Grand Prix Story. Sadly, for those of you who really like fancy outros with big and impactful things to bear, Grand Prix Story has been entertaining me for the exact same reasons that Game Dev Story did. It’s a sharp simulation with a ton of systems to look at, use, and then abuse wrapped up in a playful and cutesy little package. It’s great on the go, fun to play regardless, and a neat little break from the studio’s more recent games. I recommend it.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • http://www.facebook.com/ZEROFACES Dreimos Heijnen

    Great review, purchasing on your recommendation.

    I remember when GDS came out, everyone in the forums was asking for a Grand (?something?) Story, but then Kairosoft released all those other ports. Is this the game everyone was asking for, or this a NEW game by Kairosoft?

    • Oen

      I think they wanted Game Dev Story 2. This game isn't exactly "new" either.

  • S Ramisetty

    Awesome review!

  • Penis

    This game is great on android I'm sure it will be great on iOS too

    • Andiron

      It is great on iOS :)

  • David

    too bad theres no ipad native support

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/BWTARI45IHFILFOKYBY53GHRWI SLeepLess_Guy

      That's good. Since their games are so addictive, i dont want to be caught playing it at work!

  • XeroFun

    The HD link should say Free, there is no Game Dev Story HD

  • GiHubb

    This was my favorite Story game by far! I played it on an Android tablet I "borrowed" from work. But when will the game be universal on iOS??

  • antz

    GPS is just awesome :) Guess what, Pocket League Story is out for android...

    http://kairospot.net/threads/pocket-league-story-available-now.904/

  • Luca

    Kairosoft is definitely my favorite iOS game developer ever.
    I think I like Grand Prix Story even more than Game Development Story

  • Owen2nz

    I have all their games so far and love them, though i havnt played the school one yet. Just started this one today and love it too. So addicting but sometimes hard to wrap your head around, but i like a challenge. I would like Kairosoft to crrate a new sim thats completely new and nothing like the ones out so far, oh and i wish the soccer one was available for ipod

    • nickmorgs

      I agree.  More than happy with them porting their existing titles to iOS but really want to see them go to the next level and create something from the ground up for iOS and Android.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Veronica-Andersson/612678357 Veronica Andersson

    Bought instantly. All games have been awesome so I actually dwnloaded it while reading the review. Have now played it for some hours and I love it, just love it!

  • Anonymous

    I'll consider it when it's either universal or otherwise available for the iPad, and is 99 cents. I liked Game Dev Story, but I never finished it. I think it's just not entirely my cup of tea even though I liked it to an extent. This one might be more to my liking - I'm not sure. In any case I'll wait for a 99 cent price point.

    • Chaosoul

       I don't think  they will ever release a HD version for the ipad but the app is universal.

  • Austinriddle87

    BORING BORING BORING.

  • Serra8

    I have been waiting too long. FINALLY!!!!!!

  • Jaildesigner

    Hey! The GameDev Story HD link at the beginning of the text refers to the lite version. I was thinking they released a HD version :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rafael-Debes/1065965117 Rafael Debes

    great game, cant wait to see game dev 2, anyone knows when its coming out??

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

    not really a fan of watching races

  • Mike

    One thing you have to look forward to after you complete the first play through, is setting game speed from normal to fast, which roughly doubles the speed of both the races and time passing in the workshop. (but unfortunately not any of the "level up" type popup screens)

    Much better the second play-through with the speed increase, which by the way without using hidden mechanics I may not know about, it seems impossible to beat the 3rd/final GP race the first play-through so you will WANT to play through again, assuming you like the game overall.

    Like their other games, you get to keep a couple things that give you an advantage on subsequent play-throughs.

    My only gripe other than game speed on first play through, is this game is dangerously addicting - if you like this game you are going to stay up waaay to late a few nights to play through a couple times.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001587818838 Billy Ameno

    I haven't played it yet but it looks really fun, and I know that when I start playing it I won't put it down or get much sleep.

  • Anonymous

    I liked it, good little time waster but there were too many things to tap. What were repetitive screens to dismiss with a tap, all the various updates could have been little in game notifications like the secretary's notes. I didn't need to know how 'excited' the secretary was EVERY time there was a race on, I didn't need to tap to know how the driver was doing, I didn't feel I needed to tap to acknowledge where on the world map I am. I didn't care for all the race results being on separate screens and they all needed an extra tap to dismiss and so forth. It was quite off-putting.
    I didn't care about the time trials even though there is actually a 'Skip' function. It makes me wonder if the devs played the whole game through and realised this tediousness. 

    I would buy their other titles but no doubt they are set up in the same way.

Grand Prix Story Reviewed by Brad Nicholson on . Rating: 4