Readers, an occasional dabble with emulation and board game ports aside, I don’t normally play games on my phone. Ever. But over the years I have made one major concession, and played the shit out of a series of management games released by Japanese studio Kairosoft.
From the mid-90s onwards, Kairosoft has been incredibly successfully releasing game after game, often with the same foundations: taking on a business/place/organisation and making it as wonderful as you can, but with minor tweaks and changes to their settings that keep things just fresh enough that you want to play more than one.
Most Kairosoft releases have been on mobile, with a few Windows ports, but this is somehow the first time these games have hit Steam, meaning it’s also going to be a lot of people’s first opportunity to try them out. Which I highly recommend!
Sure, they may be lacking the depth of games designed with the desktop in mind, and some windows and controls are looking a little janky on bigger screens, but the two things that make Kairosoft games great—their crunchy numbers and overwhelming heart—are still there.
Not every Kairosoft game available in English has been released; only five are out so far, though that number includes Game Dev Story, which is one that many fans would suggest you try first anyway. It’s a challenging, funny and weirdly accurate look at the ways the game industry has changed over the last few decades (though this game is now old enough that it itself is feeling a little dated). It may also—and I’m sorry to put you in this position—make you feel an ounce of understanding for the role of a money-hungry video game executive.
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Hopefully Mega Mall Story (where you run a mall) and their excellent sports management games, Grand Prix Story and Pocket League Story, aren’t too far behind.