I should be making my own game right now, but I’m not, I’m playing Game Dev Story. Oh wait, that was the last Kairosoft game. Now history is repeating itself, but this time I’m engrossed playing Grand Prix Story, which as the name implies, is a racing version of Game Dev Story. Kind of.
One of the most likable things about Game Dev Story, aside from the geek fantasy of making your own games (within a game), was that it played so heavily to your imagination. You chose a genre, a release platform and the game’s name, but other than that, it was largely a case of creating better games by grinding away to earn higher and higher skill levels and numbers. The cool stuff happened within the player’s imagination, where you created your own vision of the game. As such, I still have a fondness for my fictitious Sushi and Sumo game franchises (sidenote: one of which I’m releasing for real next month, in name at least).
Grand Prix Story is a bit more literal. This is probably a good thing in this case. You get to see the actual races play out. For the most part, you’re just a spectator watching your cars race around the track, although you can occasionally decide when to use a turbo boost. The races are short and sweet enough that they don’t feel too repetitive, and you don’t mind sitting through them for 30-60 seconds, watching your little driver and carefully constructed car whizz around.
The rest of the game consists of carefully deciding what cars and technologies to research, upgrading them with your experience points, spending money to train your drivers and mechanics, and picking appropriate sponsors for your race team. It’s all very similar to Game Dev Story in that regard – essentially a game of generating ever higher numbers, presented in a nice interface with cute little characters.
It’s a bit like a role playing game where they’ve stripped out the game and kept just the leveling system, making the process of earning experience points the entire game. If you look at it cynically, that’s fairly accurate. But once again, a mixture of cuteness and imagination make it much more than the sum of its parts. If you happen to like the idea of a racing management game too, then you’ll be most pleased.
Grand Prix Story is perfectly suited as a mobile phone game (currently available on the Android Market for about £3, but surely an iPhone version will soon follow). In theory, it’s the type of little game that you can dip in and out of at will. In reality, it’s the type of game that has you staring at your mobile phone screen for hours on end, until the battery begs for mercy.
Well done Kairosoft for creating yet another nugget of digital crack.