Bookstore Dream
3DS + DSi
| Bookstore Dream

Have you ever dreamed of owning a book shop? The unending shelf-neatening, the shoppers who don't buy the book that they've just read half of, the dwindling profit margins, the inevitable oblivion that will come via Kindle?

On the staggeringly remote off-chance that you have, you can experience it all in Bookstore Dream. And if the tasks described above sound like too much hard work then you can relax, because this Waterstones-'em-up practically plays itself anyway.

Choose your own adventure (in book store ownership)

At the beginning of the game you're given a book store building, a few items of furniture, and a huge sum of money to invest in an initially quite small selection of books. You stock the shelves and watch the customers roll in.

As you sell more books your relationship with these companies improves, opening up access to more of their titles and letting you enjoy discounts when ordering. As your popularity as a store amongst these suppliers and the general public improves, so more publishers want to have their stock gracing your hallowed halls.

This almost RPG-lite idea of grinding sales for game performance improvements is an intriguing system in an otherwise straightforward title. You can tweak the price of books (and CDs, postcards, other tat) so that certain titles sell quickly, rapidly enhancing your relationship with the publisher that prints them.

Putting more money into advertising to entice customers in, hiring more staff to keep everyone happy, always improving your selection so that there's something new: all of this works well.

The 16-bit art-style is cheery and bright, too, and for a while as you go through Bookstore Dream you start to think that Circle Ent. might have a bit of a gem on its hands.


You eventually find the 'make game boring' button, though, and it greatly diminishes the overall experience. When you order books from a publisher, you can either manually restock or set this to automatic, and when you opt for the latter you're essentially putting the game on autopilot.

Stock never runs out, you keep turning a very easy profit (the game's very lenient with you), and you can – quite literally – walk away from your DS and let the title play itself for large periods of time. And when you've got nothing to do in a game, you start seeing its rougher edges more clearly.

You and your staff aren't represented in the game, and the number of places you can place furniture is extremely limited, so there's no sense of personal identity. The text translation to English is weak, a few of the menus are fiddly, and the music repeats too often.

But all of this could have been overlooked if there wasn't such a crushing sense of pointlessness to your presence.

The big and exciting thing about video games is that they're interactive. When you find yourself surplus to requirements in a game it loses much of its appeal. If you ignore the option to make Bookstore Dream play itself then there's some fun to be had. Just don't push that button.

Bookstore Dream

Bookstore Dream has the potential for being a brilliant management title, but aside from a couple of neat ideas, it ends up hamstrung by its own indifference to your presence, practically playing itself
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.