iPhone Game Review: Grand Prix Story for iPhone and iPod Touch Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Grand Prix Story is another great simulation game from Kairosoft. This time, you will be tasked with managing a racing team, including hiring personnel, designing/building cars, and, of course, racing.
Grand Prix Story is a surprisingly deep, yet whimsical game that puts you in charge of a racing team. Your goal is to rise to the top of the racing circuit by building the fastest cars and hiring the most talented employees. You are constrained by the amount of money you have on-hand, of course, which means you will have to start small and slowly build your racing empire. Winning races and securing (and keeping) sponsors is what it will take to keep you in the black. It is also what gives Grand Prix Story that "one more thing before I quit" quality. The game has much more in common with Game Dev Story than some of Kairosoft?s other titles in that you interact with the game by making decisions within deep menu trees rather than placing things directly on the screen. This does not detract from the enjoyment of the game by any means, however, as the menus are graphically rich and colorful. Trust me; this is not a spreadsheet simulator.
Money is earned by racing, of course, but this is no arcade game. In fact, with the exception of applying an occasional turbo-boost, you have no direct control over your vehicle at all while it is on the track. This is not to say that this portion of the game is just fluff, however. Watching your vehicle closely as it races will give you valuable information regarding its strengths and weaknesses. Because not every car will be competitive in every type of race, you will eventually have several different ones at any given time, all of which will be designed with a different type of competition in mind.
My only complaint about the game is that the interface can be a bit convoluted at times, and less intuitive than it should be. For example, my 10-year old son, an avid gamer, experienced quite a bit of frustration trying to modify his vehicles and scrap unwanted ones. This isn?t to say that everybody will have these issues, however, the fact that it wasn?t immediately obvious to somebody who grew up on video games isn?t a great testimony to the intuitiveness of Grand Prix Story?s interface.
The graphics of Grand Prix Story are exactly what we?ve come to expect from Kairosoft; cute, cartoony, and 16-bit. They are nice and crisp, however, and have tons of personality. Another way that Grand Prix Story is similar to its brethren is in the complete lack of native iPad support. There is a lot going on in this game, and none of it is visible when a menu tree is open. This gives Grand Prix Story a somewhat claustrophobic feeling that would completely disappear on the large screen of the iPad. The graphics scale well, however, in 2X mode so all is not lost.
The sound effects in Grand Prix Story match the graphics? lighthearted style perfectly. Unfortunately, so does the soundtrack. Tip: your phone?s mute button is your friend until you plow through the initial interface tutorial and can gain welcome access to the sound options. The ?music? can best be described as a random collection of atonal sounds and syncopated percussion recorded live by musicians sitting in entirely different soundproof rooms.
Another great simulation from Kairosoft. The combination of business management and surprisingly deep car design has resulted in a unique and fun game that I had a hard time putting down. The interface can be a bit confusing and the music will make you want to claw your ears off, but the core gameplay is excellent. This should be an instabuy for all Kairosoft fans, and is highly recommended for anybody who enjoys light simulation.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3 - simple, cartoony graphics in Kairosoft?s unique style. The lack of iPad support is a bit of a disappointment, however. Sound: - 3 - Good sound effects. Turn off the music the first chance you get, however. Controls: - 4 - A mostly well-organized interface. There?s a lot to do here so you may occasionally lose your way. Gameplay: - 5 - A super fun race team management simulation that is hard to put down.
Playing Hints and Tips:
A complete game manual is available from within the system menu. Watch the races closely to determine your car?s strengths and weaknesses. Give yourself a good half-hour to get comfortable with the game. Once you?re hooked, you?ll stay hooked. However, it can appear a bit daunting in the initial minutes as you try to find the fun.