iPhone game of the day: Hot Springs Story - retro sim heaven from the Game Dev Story team

On iPhone
Hot Springs Story
Price: $3.99
Size: 7.3MB
Get it now on iTunes:US/ UK

If you haven't playedGame Dev Story, take a second and go download it right now. We mean NOW. It was easily one of the best iPhone titles of last year, and we highly recommend it. Luckily for us, developer Kairosoft is back with another game in the same style: Hot Springs Story, which has you managing your own Japanese hot springs while you strive to become the best in the luxury resort business. Time to heat up the baths...

If you've played Game Dev Story already, you know the drill of how Hot Springs story works - it's the exact same format. If not, though, we promise it won't take too much getting used to. You'll get started with only two rooms, a single public bath and a vending machine when your hot springs opens for business. The game eases you into the groove, encouraging you to get familiar with the menus by building some new rooms right off the bar. As you do, you'll see the menu has many building options, such as environmental additions that boost the stats of surrounding rooms, stores to give your guests more to do while they are on the premises, and rooms and baths. Everything is accomplished with simple touch controls (you can also pull up a little touchpad controller if you wish), and we found the world of Hot Springs Story very pleasant to interact with.

In addition to building, you'll also have the option of advertising directly to the clients you want to see come into the inn. This is called "targeting", and it enables you to not only pull the clients you want but also check out their stats, such as how much disposable income they have, how hard it is to please them, and so on. You can check stats like this on everything you build too, so if you pay attention, you'll want to keep building a facility that appeals to the type of people you invite into it. Once a guest checks in, you make a bit of money, and you'll also gain some points based on how popular the room is with guests. You can optimize this process by purchasing items and using them on certain rooms as well.

If you like reading charts and graphs, Hot Springs Story is going to satisfy that deep OCD itch for you. You can check out more detailed info in the menu about how the building of your business is faring and learn info about which types of rooms are most compatible when built next to each other. You can also crunch numbers as the years pass, compare what is working with what is not, and use that information to make changes. As the game progresses, you'll gain access to new items such as the land deed, which enables you to purchase more space for your inn and expand the property. You'll also have the opportunity to participate in hot spring rankings in local magazines, which will grant you a cash prize if you rank well. This is a great way to bulk up your accounts and keep the expansion going.

Another neat option that Hot Springs Story offers is the opportunity to invest in outside projects. As the popularity and status of your inn builds, you'll start to meet people who ask that you invest in their projects .If you choose to do so, you'll gain a new type of potential guest when the investment is complete, which is an excellent way to build variety and test out different combinations to satisfy your guests. This keeps the challenge fresh as new people keep coming into the inn, and it keeps you working to try to figure out how to keep them happy. You can't help but smile a bit when one of the investors is a guy trying to start his own game company, as it's a sweet little nod to Game Dev Story.

The overall look of Hot Springs Story has all the charm that the previous game did, and any fan of retro gaming is going to be instantly swooning over its look. The soundtrack is appropriately cute and upbeat as well, and you just kind of get that feeling you're playing a good old game from the vintage days (think Populous or Romance of the Three Kingdoms). Hot Springs Story also has the appeal of being very cute, so it will likely draw in a larger audience. Best of all, it’s very tough to pull yourself away from it, but you can play it in bite-sized chunks and take breaks with ease. It's a bit of a thrill to realize that you too can take over the world - one hot spring at a time.

Mar 18, 2011