I would have loved playing Sim City even more if it had been taking some inspiration from Kairosoft. Building a town without having to worry about crime, accidents or fires might not be realistic at all, but it alleviates the worries from the player. In Oh! Edo Towns you are left to worry about keeping your finances balanced instead, and in some way you might say that it is the accountants take on gaming.
The gameplay in Oh! Edo Towns closely resembles that found in earlier games from Kairosoft. Actually it is the same found in Hot Springs Story, but on another scale and in a new setting. To me the formula starts to feel a bit stale, and I had much higher expectations for a game about building a town in Ancient Japan.
You build houses, and hope that new villagers move in. Businesses, fields to harvest and roads to connect them all have to be built. One important aspect is the combo system that gives massive bonuses. For example building a school, a library and a piece of nature gives the study combo-giving yield and price bonuses. New combos are usually found by accident, or by experimenting with similar buildings. If you want to gain new combos the quick way there are a lot of faqs out there on the Internet.
Yield is the number used to describe wealth of the town, and revenue from individual inhabitants and stores. To increase yield you can use crafts on the stores to boost them. This mechanic isn’t that well explained, and I ended up using it as a way to pass the slower times rather than as a tool to develop my town with. Making sure that new houses are attractive is imperative to get the town to grow. It feels quite random when new people choose to settle in my town or not.
As you progress in the game you unlock the ability to attract tourists, and other travellers. These travel your town spending money, and hopefully fulfilling a task to give you a reward. You don’t get to control the travellers directly, and there is no way to set a path for them.
Researching new buildings is important to keep the town growing. Upgrading the walkways with gravel or grass also increases the yield of the surrounding area. Much time is spent only watching the screen waiting to tap on a window with some news. Actually it soon becomes a passively played game that lied next to my computer only occasionally demanding my attention. This way it is easy to spend the 16 years until the game records the score. In that sense it might be the first casual city building game ever. The game lacks any kind of online functionality, and I really think Kairosoft should include Game Center or OpenFeint integration. This is the kind of game where you should even be able to send travellers to your friends Edo Towns to spend some cash.
I am a huge fan of the sim games from the minds of Kairosoft, but Oh! Edo Towns fails to grab me. It demands too little interaction from the player, and at the same time it is the game that feels the least free to explore. I constantly worry that I am planning my town in the wrong way. My University studies of cultural geography tell me one thing about how, and why people move, and this clashes with the mechanics found in Oh! Edo Towns. It is a bit too simplified according to what I know, and still it keeps bugging me that I am not building the optimal town.
Oh! Edo Town is still a nice game to spend a couple of hours with, but compared to the other Kairosoft titles I place it in the bottom segment. Too random, too self-running and the first title that actually feels tired of using the same formula. To those who are massive fans of all things Kairosoft I doubt anything I say will sway you from playing the game, or enjoying it for the hours it takes to finish. To newcomers I rather recommend you to try the lite version, and then take a look at either Game Dev Story or Mega Mall Story first.
Oh! Edo Towns $3.99
Seller: Kairosoft Co., LTD.