You’d be forgiven for mistaking this as a Kairosoft game. It’s a very easy error to make as not only does Bookstore Dream share a similar visual style to Game Dev Story and the like, but at £1.80 the pricing isn’t far off from a Kairosoft game either.
This is a small game in more ways than one. According to the credits it was developed by just five people and like most DSiWare games it downloads in a click of a finger due to a minuscule file size.
Moreover, the action takes place on just one screen – the size of the bookstore in the screenshots on this page is the size it remains for the entire voyage into retail.
For most part you’re dealing with stock management. Looking at menus, in other words. Planning ahead is essential – small orders of books take one day to be delivered while larger orders can take 2 or 3 days. The more copies of a book sold, the more popular it becomes. Prices can be altered and deals can be struck with publishers. The more publishers you’ve managed to woo, which entails reaching certain ‘fame ratings’, the greater variety of items you can stock.
There are a few different things you can place in the shop including magazine racks, CD racks and sofas for customers to use. Balancing comes into play here – the top screen shows your stock levels and amount of shelf space. A shop full of empty shelves isn’t something customers like to see.
Random events occur now and then, such as rent increases and cash bonuses from investors. It’s also possible to arrange autograph signings and splurge on advertising. At the end of each signing you’re informed how well the day went, which is a nice touch. Once word of your shop’s greatness start to spread then an extra pair of hands will have to be hired too.
When the till is ringing nonstop and the shop is packed full of people, Bookstore Dream can feel rather satisfying. There are five milestones to reach as well which give something to focus on and aim for.
Ultimately though, it’s very much a victim of the developer’s choice of format. Memory constraints are more than evident throughout and although playable on 3DS, a more elaborate version for the 3DS eShop could have allowed for some greatly needed customisation options beyond choosing the colour of the floor tiles.
There are far worse ways to spend £1.80, but there’s no denying that it’s rather limited in what it can offer.