Reviewed: June 6, 2008
Released: April 29,2008
Toy Shop by Majesco and Gameinvest is a business simulation game where you invest the next three years to save your grandfathers business. Okay, it doesnít take three real years, a day takes about five minutes so you have to pay attention or youíll get behind I the work. This strategy based simulation game can be a very interesting business model and has plenty of elements that all work together to create a unique and interesting game.
Toy Shop is one of those games you either enjoy and recommend or thoroughly hate and tell others to not even bother. The reviews so far say that and after reading them I have to say I am a bit confused, this is a decent game and it does work for what it is, a sim business. The game works well and I found no technical problems at all with any of the sections from turning it on to ending my business career in toys which is pretty rare for a video game these days.
You start off with a good introduction about the game and why you are suddenly the owners of a business all your own, your grandfather passed away. Now he gives you three years to make a go at the business and get it off its feet or it goes to the city and you count yourself a failure in small to big business. The mayor would just love this but he has promised your grandfather to help you out and will do just that with the start of your business and giving you hints along the way.
What this game is not is a failure and it does pretty good at simulating a day to day business with a little diversity in going about town to upgrade your store with communications and investigating. Consumers know what they want or want a selection to choose from and that is what you must find out, what the people around town want in your toy store. So they added in some wandering around town for a bit of diversity and change of pace to the day to day drudgery of running a toy store.
I think this game simulates what life is really like to anyone who cares to play it, or almost, you have the drudgery of a job with just about the same thing every day. But you also have the joy of building toys for kids and earning money at something you can get good at by helping Mark build toys. You earn money to save, help your business grow as well as get better at building the toys and unlocking the new ones so itís time to get to work.
When you have the workshop on the screen Mark is there in one of two rooms awaiting instructions patiently, looking up at you and tapping his foot if he has nothing to do. Waiting and looking directly at you as if to say that you need to get to work in order for him to get to work, pretty cute addition.
The main thing you will do with Mark in the toy shop is tell him what to build by picking each toy you want each time you want one built and setting on his to do list. Each toy has the percentage of success in building the toy as well as cost and other information. Once you have attained the 100% proficiency with that toy you will unlock the next toy in the blue prints production tree.
Other toys will also be unlocked later in the game after you talk to others in the town and get ideas from them. You can help him build toys by giving him tools, just click on the appropriate key that corresponds to the correct tool out of the four available. You can also let him go about his business and build the toys by himself but he will take a bit longer per toy this way.
In the shop itself you can move the furniture around and stock shelves as Mel, this is not needed very often but you do have to open the store every day. It also helps to occasionally check out what customers are looking for as shown by their preference chart when you click on them. This allows you an insight into the types of toys you should be stocking but you can also get this from which toys sell the most.
In the graphics department Toy Shop makes good use of the split screen with the main animations and action stuff going on at the top and the bottom is your main controls. The game does a good job of allowing you to see all you need to and control the entire gameplay easily using mostly the touch screen.
They have added in some very good and cute little animations like the one with Mark looking up at you and waiting as well as the other ones like Mel sweeping the shop on occasion or both lounging around the living room watching TV at night. Another real cute one is in the morning Mark will do a few pushups before heading off to work to keep in shape for his girl.
The town scenes look good and the entire package of graphics were well done with decent 3D scenes and the talks on the top screen between people are the usual Japanese cartoon type. When working in the shop or when tooling around town the entire graphics animations and effects work out pretty well and add a nice charm to the game.
There is no voice, of course, but there is a nice tune playing with several sounds and effects for things such as when you successfully build a toy or a customer is happy with a toy discovery. The sounds are nice and there is no problem with the effects or audio but there is also not much to it.
They did a decent job and the sounds for things like alerting you to an important event are nice but the main audio you will be hearing is a calm tune all day long that doesnít change much. Itís a good thing the music and audio is not annoying because you will be pretty much hearing the same thing but it works and thatís about all you can ask for with the DS.
Like I said with the beginning and what appears to be true from several of the reviews Toy Shop is either a game that you enjoy or hate. It works fine and there is not much difficulty in getting things to work correctly and earning money. But if you donít like the day to day living of a realistic sim game then this would not be fun.
I did find I was kind of drawn into the game and the sense of enjoyment and accomplishment you get from being able to earn a living in making and selling toys, even virtually, is kind of cool. The degree of difficulty is not very hard and a balance of selling and making as well as gaining on your proficiency is all a balancing act.
Toy Shop is not all that hard but it will take some time to get anywhere and get all those 34 toys unlocked but you will have to leave the shop on occasion and see the world, or the little part of it that Toy Shop is in. You do need to venture forth and get some ideas for new toys as some of the unlocks will only happen after you talk to others in town and you can always get help from the Mayor.
Toy Shop is a cute game and difficult enough that young kids will not be able to grasp concepts such as value of a product, markup, keeping a stock and other business concepts. The game is fun for young adults or even adults, yes, I like it and it is fun and challenging enough in that must complete and level up kind of way.
They have added plenty of things to unlock and complete in the leveling up of toys and you canít really just set the game down and let it run through several days as you have to keep an eye on the shop everyday to open it. You also have to make sure there are toys stocked up and you always want to throw in some harder to make toys with the ones you will stock regularly to work toward unlocking the new ones.
Toy shop is a fun and engaging game and not all that difficult but it is not the exciting or action filled game that some reviewers seem to be looking for. It is after all a sim strategy type game that models a real life business and just simplifies all the running of it into a Nintendo DS game.