The smell of petrol, and hot dogs are some things I associate with racing. Metalmashing crashes, nail-biting duels and cheering fans should also be a part of a good day at the races. Kairosoft has tried to package a racing game into the world of simulations, and for the most part it is devoid actual racing feeling. Far from the racetrack Grand Prix Story is more about what happens behind the scenes. Developing cars, training drivers and keeping the budget in the green. If you enter this world hoping to get some adrenaline pumping the way that Real Racing affects you, just forget it. This is racing from a nerd, or hmm a economic technical point of view.
Grand Prix Story follows in the footsteps of earlier Kairosoft games when it comes to presentation, and general game idea. If you are familiar with the four previous games I can say it is closest to Game Dev Story in design. You set up a racing team with a driver, and initially two open spots for mechanics. Developing a basic car, and taking it to the tracks the game starts quite slowly. You can train your driver, and hence upgrade the stats in either a racing or a technical direction. The driver is involved in repairing, researching and upgrading the vehicle and parts. When the driver enters an aura state training is far more successful. If you save the aura for the race it gives you a speedboost if you touch the driver’s name. This is all the interaction you have with the game during a race.
Controlling the racing team is all touch based, and quite straightforward. Touch a driver to gain access to the train menu. Touch the menu button to enter the main menu of the game. Here you can research new cars, and parts, upgrade current items, and build new cars in the garage. It is also really important to keep track of the sponsors you have. When a sponsor is satisfied with the ad effectiveness you get introduced to a new sponsor. It is important to cancel your finished contract, and get a new one. This is vital to get bonus points, money and unlockable vehicles and parts. I missed out on this completely, and stuck to a sponsor that gave me loads of money each year. You only have 14 years to get a high score before the game ends. To me this seems quite hard to finish all sponsors, and all the races within. When replaying the game you can bring one car design, and one part to the next game.
The flow of the game is quite easy to get into. You race, repair, race, repair, upgrade, race, build new vehicle, repair, race, upgrade. After a while this gets quite tedious, and too often it feels like my crew is just standing around. The actual racing is the worst part, as you can’t affect the outcome at all. Just watching the race grows mundane. As there are multiple button presses to do just to start the race, the game is not as self-going as earlier Kairosoft games. This is in the end my largest complaint about the game. It becomes mundane, and boring. Sure I want to develop everything, and get all sponsorship deals but if it takes me hours of the same repetitive actions it doesn’t feel like fun anymore. There is nothing to do as you wait for repairs to finish, or races to start. And you have to race to gain development points to use for new designs, or upgrading your mechanics. I also miss the combination effects seen in other Kairosoft games. Combining parts doesn’t give a synergetic effect, and everything is but a sum of the parts.
There are some highlights to the game, and at times they are enough to get me through some monotonous sections. Building a new car, and hoping for good specs is fun to me. It is also cool to get new projects to research when you upgrade a part or vehicle enough. It takes a lot of patience though.
When the game reaches 14 years, and the score is recorded you can still play on. I have yet to unlock everything, and I am closing in on year 30. There are no global leaderboards yet, and I think it is a huge flaw. I would also have liked to have achievements.
The presentation is excellent in the Kairosoft vein. I adore these graphics, and really like the fact that the game can be played in either landscape or portrait mode. What is less satisfying is the annoying music that is a real nuisance.
Grand Prix Story is so far the simulation I have liked the least from Kairosoft. Too much sitting about idle, no racing interaction and a lack of combos are huge letdowns. Still it is at heart a nice casual game of strategic economic decisions. If you have the other games from Kairosoft you will probably enjoy this too, but not to the extent of Pocket Academy, Mega Mall Story or Game Dev Story.
Grand Prix Story $2.99
Seller: Kairosoft Co, Ltd