In the years that I’ve been a gamer, most of it has been on consoles or PC. With the rise of the cell phone, most of which I missed, having lived in Japan when babies in America were starting to be born with cell phones in their hands, I have gradually expanded my horizons into more and more mobile titles. From the earliest phones that weighed three pounds and could knock out an elephant, we have steadily become more and more glued to our phones, kept quiet and happy with the endless stream of apps, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But the games. Good lord, the games are innumerable, and the zombie apocalypse is not on the phone, but rather the silence with which we ignore society to be nose-to-screen in our latest favorite app.
I have never been a fan of the mainstream stuff like Clash of Clans, though I can’t really fault the company for the success and community it has built out of the title. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few years trying to dig up games that have captured my attention like some of the bigger titles out there. I’ve been through my fair share of clicker games like AdVenture Capitalist, empire builders like Empire Z, and card or match 3 games like Spirit Stones (Which I still play to this day.)
From time to time, a company will stand out to me. Usually, the games that come out, like Angry Birds and the like, are one of only a few games that a single developer makes. Be it due to small studio, poor funding, a singular developer for all aspects of the game, or any number of other elements, most of the time, a game will come out, and the developer won’t make much else, focusing a lot of effort on their one title in the marketplace.
Some of the larger developers, like Square Enix, have a huge presence on the market, and it makes for a much larger footprint amongst consumers.
Today, however, I would like to discuss one of my favorite, and ever-enjoyable developers and their numerous titles.
I speak of Kairosoft.
A developer out of Japan founded originally in 1996 and having grown over the years, Kairosoft has captured my heart with their games. Largely offline, single-player empire building games, they are time-consuming, but not to an unhealthy degree, and rewarding in that each playthrough is different in minor ways, with just enough customization to keep the player engaged, but enough static that the game always feels that “just right” of familiar. Most of the premium versions of the games are listed at $4.99, so not a huge kick in the wallet for many hours of entertainment on a single title.
Among my favorites are Game Developer Story, where you play the CEO of a small-time video game developer, starting with only a few employees and working your way up into the big leagues of gaming, competing for annual prizes for best title, marketing to numerous demographics in the area, and generally trying to make it big in just a handful of years. Once the timeline has lapsed, you can continue to play and develop games, playing indefinitely and attempting to make the gaming Hall of Fame.
Another title that had me glued to my phone screen for weeks was Ninja Village. Staged in the feudal eras of Japan, Ninja Village starts you off in a local prefecture of Japan, asking you to unify the country under a deposed Emperor. Not only do you manage each of your residents, but you must also manage the village, your armies, and overcome other dangerous forces across Japan, some joining you, some taking their death instead of losing face in the eyes of their fellow countrymen.
Sushi Spinnery was one that scratched my itch to return to Japan one day. As a startup sushi restaurant, you begin with minimal supplies, a few sushi chefs, and a conveyor table for customers to gather around. Ultimately, your goal is to make yourself a household name in the sushi industry, building your restaurant into a multi-tabled culinary kingpin, with the greatest minds and most adept hands in the sushi industry at your disposal.
My current addiction is Anime Studio Story, where I run a rather inappropriately named anime studio that I can only assume is publishing degenerate forms of cartoons to the general populace. As with any of the Kairosoft games, if you name yourself, your company, or your holdings inappropriate things, it makes for some healthy chuckles. Case in point, when a magazine publishes an article about you, or a fan writes in a letter and says something like “OMG I love your show ‘Toes Toward the Ceiling'” or whatever nonsense you’ve unleashed upon your fans, it calls for a giggle or two.
The nice thing about Kairosoft’s marketing plan is that for most of the games they publish, there’s both a free-to-play, and a pay-to-play version. The paid version of the game is the pure experience, with no ads, no extra frills or gimmicks, just the game and a whole lot of entertainment. The free versions, in my opinion, aren’t all that bad either. The ads felt like they were not overbearing, and didn’t really force themselves upon you. For me, a bit of a gaming purist, I don’t like having extra ads floating around, and I can’t stand it when something pops up and says “If you want to unlock this nonsense, either pay us ten bucks, or get to watching a few dozen videos to raise the in-game currency.”
All in all, I can say that Kairosoft has never done me wrong. There’s at least two dozen games on the market that are translated exceptionally well into English, affording countless hours of entertainment across multiple types of stories. Pirates, schools, soccer, science-fiction, fantasy, and more, Kairosoft has done a phenomenal job at entertaining me for years now, and after reading this, I hope they will begin to entertain you all as well!
Happy hunting, my friends!