Mar 7, 2012

Dungeon Village

Edit: I can't seem to upload images into the blogger right now so sorry about the lack of visual appeal today...

I reviewed Kairosoft's Game Developers Story many months ago and it left me feeling flat despite the widely acclaimed praise the game seems to garner. Even my favorite blogger seems to be gaga over these games. I skipped their other fifty releases, but the idea of building a village that acts as a safe haven for weary adventurers intrigued me. Was there something I was missing?

Dungeon Village pits you as the Supreme Being overseeing the development of a remote town in the wilderness where beasts run rampant and weary adventurers seek the comfort of  a cozy inn or a place to restock on supplies. You start with a small town that has an Inn and a Weapon shop along with a small amount of gold in its treasury. The game's built in tutorial walks you smoothly through the construction of your first building and does a fantastic job of explaining the game in a nice, progressive manner. As you play you'll learn about attracting adventurers to your town, improving its appeal to attract even more adventurers, about dungeons and quests, and be faced with the usual dilemma of how to best manage your money to grow your village.

Graphically Dungeon Village pretty much looks like all of the other Kairosoft games. Teeny weenie little people march around, slightly larger buildings get plopped down with infinitesimally small signs with which to disambiguate them, tiny monsters gather outside the village's gates, and holes pop up in the ground (dungeons) for your friendly neighborhood adventurers to explore. All the while, a nice audio accompaniment plays along to keep you in the spirit of city building making the game's graphics good, but familiar. Controls entirely rely on familiar touch screen dragging and dropping or navigating through pop-up menus.

Dungeon Village's theme brought me back to my SimCity days given that instead of building a software company now I'm building a village. I loved SimCity when I was first exposed to it. There was a powerful feeling in having absolute control over building a thriving metropolis and it also providing a bit of an educational experience in the challenges town planners face. Dungeon Village also brought me back to a statistics class from my college days where we learned the various models for generating a seemingly random (but not) formula for customer arrivals. So do I like this game? No, I don't.

First, I understand that I'm almost alone in the feeling that these games seem to play me versus me playing them. Ok, I can choose where a building goes and such, but I feel far more like I'm waiting for the game to deliver population to me or tell me there's a new dungeon or for any number of things to happen. I'm just waiting on that formula from stats class to kick in a deliver something to me doorstep. If you enjoy these kinds of games then strike me review from your memory and this will probably be right up your alley. I don't get much pleasure from games like this and wish I could have my $5 back.

Second, I'm pretty sure Kairosoft doesn't develop these using traditional programming techniques. By now based on the rate at which they crank out these games I'm certain that they must use the Kairo Games Construction Set to plop out the same old stuff with a new theme. Hey, here's a game about building an amusement park and here's a game about building an oil company. Fifty games later people still haven't tired from the same old formula? Let's change the graphics tile set and the text strings and now we're building a zoo. Yes, I over simplify as there's quite a difference between layout out a village and deciding where to invest money in a game company, but I don't over simplify by as much as I should have to. Consequently, I don't think these games are worth $5 each, but so long as people will pay it then I don't fault them for charging it. Maybe one day they'll release their Kairo Games Construction Set...

In conclusion, I am more confident than ever in a 3/5 star review for this game not only based on my own lack of interest in the game, but also based on how it really doesn't break new ground. I am only glad that I have skipped the other countless iterations of this stuff and how that they don't introduce the 'Roman Village' game which would be another theme that might sucker me back in for another look. I have had some ask why I haven't reviewed Grand Prix Story or Pocket League Story or Epic Astro Story or ... it's because they are all the same game in a different package. And yeah, I'd love to hear some constructive reasons that people disagree with me on this and find this and/or each of their other games surprisingly unique and enjoyable.

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