Game Dev Story is an unusual, but very addictive, simulation game where you manage a videogame company and try to build a bestselling game. Featuring fun, low-detail graphics—not quite 8-bit, but along similar lines—and an unmoving isometric view of a single room, it captures the “old videogame” look well.
Gameplay is along the lines of Sim City. The goal is to increase certain statistics, like your stockpile of money, and different event dialogs will appear as time goes by, affecting your progress. In Game Dev Story, you gain money by doing contract work for other companies and by developing games, which is a greater risk but has the potential to net you much more money.
As time goes on you can win awards for your games, purchase licenses to develop for new consoles, buy new offices, manage employees, and even develop your own console once your company grows large enough.
The mechanic for making games works well. You choose a console, set a genre and theme, and assign points to different attributes about the game. Then development starts and your employees begin a mad rush to write code, design graphics, improve gameplay, compose music and fix bugs. Eventually your game is complete and you can ship it after picking a catchy name.
After a game is complete, it goes on sale. It only stays on the market for a few weeks, so taking out advertisements is a prudent investment. As the revenue pours in from your game, it’s also a good idea to do a little bit of contract work. Once the game goes out of print and you’ve made a few thousand extra from contract work, you can start another game and repeat the cycle. Now and then a new game console will be announced, one will go off market, or you might go to the annual industry award ceremony.
Like many simulation games, Game Dev Story can be played in small five-minute doses…but if you’re not careful it might suck you in for an hour. There’s something oddly addictive about making small tweaks now and then to drive up numbers.