Grand Prix Story is the tale of an ever present race, between me and my phone’s battery.
Over the past few days I keep seeing the same message on my phone over and over and over. “Battery Low, Please Connect Charger.” That’s because it seems no matter what I’m doing or how much juice I’ve drained from my phone, I just can’t seem to shut off Grand Prix Story. Given the choice between turning the game off and keeping a charge to last me the rest of the day or burning that battery into the ground has been simple. Keep on playing!
The good news is that Kairosoft has recovered from its missteps of Hot Springs Story and has returned to the things that made Game Dev Story so compelling – and then surpassed them handily. Grand Prix Story takes addictive to another level, really nailing down that “just one more thing” type of mentality that these management games seem to inspire.
This time around you’ll be heading up a racing team, with the intention on winning races and becoming a force on the circuit. To that end you’ll build teams, build cars, research new tech, upgrade parts and more in an effort to be the best. Of course all those things cost money, which is a finite resource, and it’s that tug of war that makes up the crux of the game.
You’ll start out a lowly race team with little money and no staff. Once you manage to scrap together a driver and build yourself a jalopy you can enter a race, which you won’t do well in… but hey, we’ve all gotta start somewhere. Your rag tag crew may have the will, but it’s going to take work to stand a fighting chance. Slow and steady wins the race as the saying goes, and competing in races builds up the most valuable resource in the game, Research Points.
Those research points will be used to learn new car parts and cars. They’ll also be used to level up your mechanics to make them better at their jobs, who can then use those research points to upgrade your car and its parts. As time goes on you’ll improve the car’s attributes, things like acceleration or handling or durability. All of this in service of doing better in races and earning more cash and, more importantly, more research points.
One of the great improvements of Grand Prix Story over the previous Kairosoft games is the inclusion of definitive feedback on how you’re doing. In Game Dev Story and Hot Springs Story you’d build and upgrade your products but never really see them in action in a way that could tell you what you’re doing right or wrong. You’d create a game that would be a flop and might not really understand why it happened. Not here.
Every time you compete in a race, be it a single shot or Grand Prix, you watch your drivers as they drive around the track. How they do is directly tied to what you’ve done to prepare them. If the car is terrible in acceleration then it’ll be slow out of the corners. Handling bad? Then you can see it when the car turns. You’ll see where you are losing ground and be able to plan accordingly for the next race. Bear in mind you don’t control the cars – this isn’t a racing game. You just watch to see how you did (races are short and only last one lap, so you’re not stuck watching 10 minutes of racing or anything).
The game shines because of these small improvements and watching them have a tangible effect on the track. Barely lose a race and then make an improvement? Well there’s no way you can put the game down now, you gotta see if you can win that thing! And of course when you win there’s always a few MORE minutes to try your hand at the next race up on the difficulty ladder.
These games seem to bore themselves right into this little spot in my brain where I can’t just stop playing. Compelling is too weak a word. Even now as I type this I’m looking at my phone, sitting on its charger, with envious eyes… forcing me to stop playing so I can recharge it enough to yank it and keep going. The breadth of options and things to do in the game are staggering. Iif you like management style games you’re going to LOVE this one.