Game Reviews

Hot Springs Story

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| Hot Springs Story
Hot Springs Story
| Hot Springs Story

Well, who could have seen this coming? After releasing the insanely addictive Game Dev Story last year, developer Kairosoft has taken a strange direction.

Hot Springs Story is another management title in the same vein as Game Dev Story, but instead of aiming for the neural pleasure centre of its target audience it involves managing a Japanese hot springs inn.

And while the setting makes perfect sense for the developer's native Japanese followers, western gamers are likely to be left wondering exactly what the appeal is.

But the subject matter does little to foul the Kairosoft formula. Once again, we're hooked.

Hot and steamy

Hot Springs Story is similar in layout and interface to Game Dev Story, but the gameplay is far from it. You take control of a hot springs inn, building rooms for your guests to sleepin and facilities for them to enjoy.

Both money and popularity are important, and you'll need to impress your guests in the hope that they'll tell their friends.

There are a variety of different types of guest, from students to old couples to businessmen. Each type has his own specific likes, and gaining popularity with a type will make him more likely to come back and spend more cash.

Every six months, local spa guidebooks publish a list of the best hot springs inns, using votes from people who have attended your complex. Rising up the ranks and taking the winner's trophy is the route to progressing through the game.

The heat is on

Once again, Kairosoft's combination of simple controls and a great sense of progress make for an addictive experience.

The game is slightly more difficult than its predecessor, with cash tighter and progress not always as obvious, but that doesn't mean it's any less exciting.

The amount of content unlocked over time is staggering. As you expand your lot, new features become available, and eventually you'll have a huge complex with multiple entrances, dozens of rooms, and acres of foliage.

There are numerous special features to play around with, adding a surprising amount of depth. For instance, certain rooms can be placed together to earn 'Compat' bonus points, and you can buy items from the shop to upgrade your facilities.

Too hot!

But Hot Springs Story is not without its faults.

It's not always obvious how you're meant to progress, especially at the start. Barely any direction is given, and even the lengthy help file is unhelpful.

For example, we played for a good few hours before we even understood how the advertising worked. It's an important element of the game, so we're happy at having wasted precious years not implementing it properly.

Hot Springs Story also lacks the personality that emanated through Game Dev Story. There are barely any sound effects, and your guests simply wander around, use your facilities, and leave, with minimal speech bubble feedback.

A great part of Game Dev Story was that you could name all your games and give them a personal touch. Hot Springs Story features no such elements, and instead gives your rooms names such as 'Vending Machine #3' and 'Room #14'.

But it's another fantastic release from Kairosoft, and we can't wait to see what else the developer has up its sleeve.

Hot Springs Story

Hot Springs Story secures Kairosoft's position as the god of iPhone management gaming. Far too addictive for its own good