- Developer: Greenheart Games
- Publisher: Greenheart Games
- Release Date: 08/10/2020
- Price: £13.49 / $14.99
- Review code provided by Greenheart Games
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Introducing – Game Dev Tycoon Switch Review
It’s about as meta as simulations get: a game in which you are building up your very own indie game studio. Game Dev Tycoon, with its relaxed vibe and simple formula, has had a healthy lifespan across PC and mobile – but does it hold up on the Ninvento Swap – er – Nintendo Switch? By all accounts – yes. If you’ve enjoyed this game on another platform, you’ll also love it on the Switch; you’ll also be delighted to know that cross-save is being integrated across all platforms, so you can continue your existing files.
Game Dev Tycoon veterans can skip down to “MLG Manager” for Switch-specific notes. All others – allow me to take you back a few decades…
From Rags to Riches
As in your typical Tycoon game, the main goal is to reach fame and fortune through strategy and money management. As the years go by, your humble solo game developer will pump out titles across generations of consoles, eventually accumulating a dependable and skilled team to put together triple-A games that rake in millions.
It all starts in a garage. After customizing your character and naming your game studio, you’re off to the races plucking away alone at a computer. Tutorial and hints come in the form of simple text boxes, which are blessedly easy to read from a distance, and not too small on handheld. In these early days of console gaming, there aren’t many platforms or features to choose from.
Here, you’ll get a feel for which topics and genres go well together. For example, Fantasy and RPG are a great mix, while Racing and RPG might not go over well with audiences. Then, as the game is in development, you’ll adjust sliders to fine-tune the focus on gameplay, engine, level design, etc. Again – certain genres will beg for certain focuses. Generating game reports after development allows you to gain insight on what the market prefers, and this insight carries over to future playthroughs.
Later on, more factors are added to the mix: multi-platform capabilities, age ratings, and marketing can all play a factor in how well the final product sells. Training your character between games will allow them to create higher-quality products or research new features at a faster rate.
Entering the Big Leagues
Eventually, you’ll make enough money to move out of the garage and hire employees to help develop bigger games. They can also help you research features to develop your own custom engines, which are yet another key factor to good ratings.
More notoriety means the ability to take on publishing deals and generate sequels. Meanwhile, the console wars are raging. Intermittent updates will inform you of upcoming consoles like the Ninvento Nuu, Playsystem 2, and MBox One. The game even mimics each platform’s real-life audiences, as well as their market ups and downs.
If you hit a financial red-zone, contracts can save the day: they’re short jobs that challenge your developers to meet a certain quota in a certain time frame. Failure means losing money, but success yields a quick bonus that can dig you out of game-ending bankruptcy.
Eventually, one game will strike a sweet spot with audiences, and sales will soar. Careful planning can turn thousands into tens of thousands very quickly, and you’ll find yourself in a big office building garnering even more fans and cash by the minute.
Developing games and completing contracts is all intermingled with managing your employees’ happiness and training, while also responding to events. These can include game conventions, fan demands, and even Nigerian scammers. Timing can be key for some actions, like marketing campaigns and boosts – so it’s a good thing that controls are on-point.
Moving around the screen to balance all of these tasks is a cinch, whether you’re using Joy-Cons or the touch-screen. As developer Patrick Klug told us in an interview, bringing Game Dev Tycoon from mobile to the Switch was a natural choice because of its touch capability. Meantime, picking up a controller instead and using the left stick to switch between employees is also easy. Controls are clearly marked throughout the game, which is great for those who need a quick refresher.
While the game’s overall performance is excellent, it’s also got its fair share of downsides. One of the most evident is that this game is visually stale. You’ll stare at the same static workers, with the only big change in scenery being leveling up to a new office.
The workflow is visualized in the form of color-coordinated bubbles that float up to the top of the screen, and while the “pop” sound they make is oh, so satisfying, it’s also pretty boring to watch. As you get into developing Large Games, you’ll find yourself staring at the screen with nothing to do but monitor the team’s progress and click through event pop-ups. When your team completes a game, you can choose to hold off on finishing development while they work out all of the bugs – so, more waiting. In this respect, Game Dev Tycoon certainly feels like a mobile title.
Even the events can get repetitive. The same shady people will come by to offer a leg-up on competition, the same G3 convention comes through, interviewers ask the same types of questions. The good news is that this game’s The Sims-esque soundtrack is so soothing and inoffensive, you won’t be subjected to repetitive noise as well.
Was the Switch to Switch worth it?
At a passing glance, one might assume that £13.49 is a bit much for such a visually static experience on the Switch. However, Game Dev Tycoon still proves to be in-depth enough for simulation aficionados like myself to be satisfied for the price. Repeat playthroughs might yield the same “timeline,” but certain aspects of the game are randomized, and your success will inevitably grow thanks to personal experience and insights that carry over from past runs. It’s also accessible enough for youngsters and genre newbies to get into. Seamless controls and a simple formula make for many hours of addiction, while cross-save functionality adds value for those who’ve already put some hard hours in on their PC or mobile device. Now, if you’ll excuse me, critics are raving about my smash hit game – lovingly entitled “Unwanted Sequel” – and they’d apparently like a fourth installment.
- Tutorial/controls are clear and simple
- Mixture of challenge and simplicity
- Carryover perks for repeat playthroughs
- Static visuals
- Waiting late-game can be boring
It’s clear why Game Dev Tycoon has thrived through the years: a timeless formula makes for straightforward, simple gameplay which, while repetitive and static, is easy to get hooked on. Those seeking a relaxing time-sucker sim will certainly find it in this.
If you haven’t already read our interview with co-developer Patrick Klug, check it out here for some insight on the game’s history – and on the team’s next project.