My feelings on Kairosoft's new simulation, Venture Towns [$3.99 / Lite], are mixed, leaning on negative. My recommendation is rather weak: I'd say buy it... but only if you dug Oh! Edo Towns [$3.99Lite] a lot.

Venture Towns, for the most part, is a carbon copy of Oh! Edo Towns set in the modern day. You'll build houses and then people will buy them; you'll build buildings and then people will work in them; you'll buy cafes, and arcades, and pastures, and parks, and then people will spend money in them. A grid-based placing system keeps everything as neat and tidy as can be, and a UI choked with options and graphs and additional mechanics will be where you spend the most of your time.

Buildings, in order to be efficient enough to profit, need to be paired with other very specific buildings. People, in order to fair well in the workplace, need to earn bonus statistics given nebulously from these buildings. Special items, on the other hand, can increase the parameters of buildings, shops, and commerce.

All these systems feed into the overall research and build structure; buildings dish out research points at unpredictable intervals, and this gives you the power to research new buildings. Money gathered then goes into building the stuff you just researched.

This is all pretty simple in theory, but there's a huge, catastrophic catch: the only way to execute well and learn what works is to continually fail, and to fail so badly that you need to start new games over and over again. This is a code-red, oh-my-god-I-hate-this-game kind of stuff -- and nothing really saves it.

I've had to dump around five hours into deficit drowning towns in order to even figure out how to position houses and stores together efficiently. Worse, it has taken over four restarts to get a handle on the combination system -- what buildings go together to create the most profit -- and how to acceptably micro-manage my citizens and buildings with boosts. Venture Towns never gives you the tools to be successful. It fails to give you any kind of blueprint for success, and there's obviously one it wants you to use, or else it wouldn't punish you so much.

This is a problem that feeds into everything else just about as well as its structure feeds into the research and build model. Kairosoft's typically sluggish pacing feels even slower as you flounder, the hot-and-cold translation effort gets even more grating as you're forced to read bad tutorial bubbles, and the dumbphone-geared interface gets even more in the way as you knowingly suck at the game for hours on end.

Venture Towns uncharacteristic ruthlessness makes what's usually forgivable with Kairosoft's formula unforgivable. It makes me feel like the whole thing has been played out; that sly hesitancy to give me all the important information up-front comes off as underhanded, the cutesy visuals feels like a mask, the resemblance to other Kairosoft games conceptually and mechanically is grosser, and the mechanics are bulky and the systems brutal. Its just all so muddled. Confidence and fun come at a costly premium of tons of your time and patience.

For what it's worth, there is a decent-enough game buried in this mess. After wrapping my head around all of the unmentioned mechanics and systems and uncovering most of the title's great mysteries -- such as how to advance as beyond as a town, how to unlock cars as vehicles, and how to grid buildings -- the actual game part, the weighing and measuring of what to build and when, became magically entertaining.

It just sucks that Venture Towns sucks until you invest massive, massive amounts of time into failing and discovering what the game is actually offering. As a whole, it doesn't feel like a fully fleshed out title -- there's too much hanging in the breeze.

Oh! Edo Towns has a similar kind of approach, so I think that game's fanatics might find something they might like in Venture Towns. I gotta say though, the modern backdrop doesn't do this game any favors; it's bland, SimCity type of stuff with Kairosoft's characteristic wrapper.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://twitter.com/MichaelMatzat Michael Matzat

    I actualy liked this a lot, i only was a bit sad about "Edo Towns" not evolving into this modern world over play time... feels a bit cheap like they just rescinned it. Personaly i like this game better than Edo Towns though, might just be the modern feel... the other one should have had a Dragon setting everything on fire every now and than. >_>

  • http://twitter.com/alexbuckner Alex Buckner

    Its never a good sign, when the title has "welp" in it....

  • Anonymous

    Not sure how figuring out you need to build a car dealership to get cars in your town is something you need to spend several miserable hours figuring out. This game is a lot like Edo Towns only about 10 times better. There are far more jobs, auras are back, the store combinations are WAAAAAAY easier to figure out than you make them seem. This game is better than Edo Towns in every conceivable way unless you just REALLY like the theme of Edo Towns. If you really have that big a problem with the lack of explanation then I wonder why you guys don't give low ratings to every Kairosoft game since that's nothing new here. My first playthrough I was consistently profitable and never found myself frustrated at all. Maybe you're just really bad at this game ha ha. Anyway I loved the game so I had to give a good fanboy rant here. I'd be very interested in hearing a second opinion from somebody else at TA.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      I would have given it way less than 2.5 stars.

      • Anonymous

        Wow, really?! Guess it just appeals to me specifically then. I didn't think it was any harder to figure out than HSS, Edo Towns, Pocket Academy, etc.

  • Stephen Mckenzie

    I thought that the game was better than Oh Edo Towns, alot more options that made more sense. The combinations were actually quite easy to work out, shops that you thought would go together normally did and I didn't have to restart once. 

  • Anonymous

    These guys know how to milk it more than Square-Enix.

  • Kristyn Noland

    I think the problem people seem to be having is that Venture Towns did not have the EXACT same setup as previous ones and people were expecting that and built accordingly, only to realize that oh crap it is not the exact same formula. Personally, I was glad of the change and a quick google of the game or as Zaibatsu town, you can easily find guides and tips for starting. If you hate failing on your first run though of a kairosoft game, that is the best thing to do. Part of the fun of these games if figuring out how things work and how to make them work in the space you have. I hope they keep changing up the formula in small ways because it makes it more interesting and makes it so I don't instantly overpower it and put it down, instead I keep trying to make it work.

  • http://twitter.com/putermcgee putermcgee

    I've been holding off on buying more kairosoft games until I finally play through hot springs story (again), pocket academy, and grand prix story, but oh edo towns was one I was really looking forward to. the theme is very appealing to me, but from what I've read (mostly on Brad's twitter), it's going to not be very fun for me.

    now if this is even more of 'more of the same', then it might be the point where I stop playing (or wanting to play) all of this dev's titles.

    if there's one place (an there isn't) I'd go for a trusted review, it's TA...and furthermore, for a kairosoft game's review, Brad's analysis is probably the easiest to trust. 

  • http://twitter.com/Sephi_Toderas Paul Toderas

    Edo Towns and Venture towns are REALLY boring compared to the other great Kairosoft games. Both of these titles made me yawn after 7-8 yrs. No fun at at, you just look at the screen and place the infinite stores and such... it has no fun. I do hope they will start making unique games like before.

    Note that I am a BIG fan, got all their games. I would love if they would bring the soccer game to iOS :)

  • Anonymous

    Wow, Brad's review is enough to get me to fire this up again. I had put it away after a short while due to its similarities to OET, which I just played the bejesus out of a month or so back, but if Brad hates it that much then it's probably an excellent title and much better than OET.

Venture Towns Reviewed by Brad Nicholson on . Rating: 2.5