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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: Bookstore Dream (3DS)

Hello there Circle. We’ve missed you for the past couple of weeks while you were busy cooking up your next work of plagiarism… uh, homage to another developer. Or not. It saddens me that developers and publishers get away with this, because Kairosoft, the developers behind the wonderful Game Dev Story (and a host of other light simulation classics on iOS and Android) really ought to have the right to sue Circle for this one.

Bookstore Dream is not technically a broken game, but it is utterly without soul or shame. From the pixel art characters (lacking the charm or animation quality of a Kairosoft game here), to the structure of the game itself, Bookstore Dream is in no way, shape or form an original game. And because it is such a faithful piece of plagiarism, Bookstore Dream manages to miss the creative spark that makes these games fun.

The basic game works like any Kairosoft game, so anyone with an iPhone or Android device should know what they’re getting here. You’ll be looking after a bookstore in this case, organising contracts with publishers to carry their books (the more popular the publisher, the more expensive the contract, naturally), and then stocking the shelves and flogging the books off to shoppers. The entire game has a single location to play in – the rectangular building that is the bookstore, and aside from deciding what shelves to put in, there’s not much that can be done with that building.

The game sets players the challenge to grow the bookstore’s popularity, and this is achieved though, shockingly, keeping the shelves stocked with books. To do that, it’s a simple matter in going into the deathly boring spreadsheet menu system and selecting which books to stick on the shelves. The developers seemed to realise how dull this process is because it’s possible to set the CPU to automate the restocking process but that leaves you with… well, nothing to do.

Well, ok, I lie somewhat. It’s possible to go into a different menu and spend some cash to encourage an author to drop by for a book signing. That’s where this game gets wildly exciting… or not. The author will only sign his books, and if you’ve got enough books in stock that the lineup of fans can all get a copy then the bookstore’s popularity will soar for maximum profit. If you run out of books, though, the bookstore’s reputation will take a hit. Deep.

So Bookstore Dream settles into a steady rhythm – stock up on one author’s books, get him/ her to the bookstore, profit. It’s not challenging, and it’s not engaging. The fact that a simulation game has been simplified beyond even a Kairosoft game doesn’t bode well for it, and to make matters worse, this game runs for exactly 99 in-game days. Days fly by pretty quickly, but when you’ve seen everything this game has to offer after the first 10, tedium hits well before the game finishes.

Life is far too short to play blatant, yet inferior, clones of better games. Given most of us have a smart phone, just go download Game Dev Story. That will scratch the itch this pretends to far better.

- Matt S



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Review: Bookstore Dream (3DS)
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