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Publisher Dream is a micro management game from Circle Entertainment Ltd. which came out last week under the DSiWare section of the Nintendo eShop. Being that I’m obsessed with these types of games, I immediately jumped on the chance to review this title!

You play as Triangle, a struggling game developer and publisher trying to make it big in the game industry. You start small with a few employees making budget games until you get to sell more copies in the ‘cshop’ (which I’m assuming is a nod to the game’s publisher), expand your office, hire more staff and eventually develop bigger games and increase your fame worldwide as a bona fide quality game developer.

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Good Points:

  • Clear-cut goals. The main objective of Publisher Dream is to stay in the green for the next nine years of your company’s life as a game publisher. That’s literally your only goal. There are milestones and achievements that will guide you on what you need to accomplish so you can unlock more rewards, but they are all secondary.
  • Simplified game mechanics. The game has a very straightforward manual that explains all the things that you need to keep tabs of to develop and publish a game. The interface is clean and easy to use; you just tap it from below and a bar with all the functions appear for you to tinker with.
  • Very addictive. I found myself tapping away on my 3DS for extended amounts of time without realizing that I have played the game for more than three hours already. It’s probably because of the fast-paced work week (everything moves in hyperspeed) and seeing the progress bars of the games you are developing move towards the release date makes it very fulfilling (just one more month…)
  • Good price point. At just $1.99, the game can net you about five to six hours of fun.

Bad Points:

  • Localization. Circle could have improved on the translation and localization of the game as you can spot some grammatical errors in the game’s system messages.
  • A lot of things are not explained.  An example is the acronym of the game genres that you are trying to develop. To a non-gamer, this could be a cause for struggle as they might not know what STG or FPS might mean. This is minor, but they could have expounded on this so that the player may have a better feel of what games they are developing or publishing. There are also some icons in the game that did not have any explanations so you will just have to guess what they mean and take it into context.
  • The game can be quite unforgiving as you are not given slack to correct your mistakes. You pay your expenses monthly but only get paid every quarter so you have to balance things out. If you have hired a lot of staff and you are already bleeding money by not producing games that sell, there is no way to cut your losses (i.e. restructure your team or sell assets), so you need to be really careful by keeping tabs on your capital and expenses. And this ties to…
  • You can only have one save file. The game saves every week (which happens after a day of work in the game, starting from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM) and will overwrite your previous week’s state. You cannot save manually so you cannot have a previous save file to go back to if things turn sour in your game.
  • Rewards are not satisfying. You just get a system message – no celebratory jumping of sprites, hyper music or anything.

Things That Can Swing Either Way:

  • Art style. I am in favor of bit-styled art because I grew up in this era of gaming so this is definitely a plus for me but I can see how some people may not appreciate this, especially younger gamers.
  • There’s really no point to watching the staff come in and out of the office, as it tends to get repetitive. But hey, it’s fun to watch them play the arcade or pet the office cat every once in a while.
  • Low replay value. This is a positive point to some people as they prefer to move on once they finish a game, but there’s really no reason to play this game again unless you want to win the Game of the Year award, which does not really give you anything other than bonus capital.

All in all, if you want a good time waster whether you’re commuting to or from work, waiting for your coffee, or have a few minutes to spare to play, Publisher Dream is a good title to spend time with. At just $1.99 on the Nintendo eShop, it is a pretty sweet deal as it costs just as much as your average smartphone game. At the very least, you get a feel of how game companies develop and publish a game (at a shallow level, of course) and get an insight of what happens during a game’s production cycle.

Thank you to Circle Entertainment Ltd. for providing 30lives with a review code of the game.