Bookstore Dream (DSiWare)

Game Review

Bookstore Dream Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Let us tell you about this game, fair reader

Bookstore Dream, to be clear, has about as much book-selling realism as the Call of Duty series has to real warfare. Ultimately though, it is just a game, and this one draws much of its inspiration from a series of smartphone resource management games from developer Kairosoft. We won't complain about that, however, as it does a good job of recreating the addictive, compulsive nature of those games, even if it does have the odd quirk to frustrate eager booksellers.

The basic premise of Bookstore Dream couldn't be simpler: you start with a small shop, a couple of humble shelves and just a few different books to sell. Your objective is to invest capital wisely in a number of areas, such as promotions, stock, publisher contracts and store upgrades, with the theory that those investments pay off. It quickly becomes a balancing act, judging how much to spend, how careful to be with your reserves and ensuring that the projected expenditure, taken at the end of the week, is less than the money you have in the bank.

There's an awful lot to look after and think about, which is good, but the title's manual and information is woefully lacking. The manual itself explains what you should be doing, in terms of running your store, but gives you little indication of how to do it. With no interactive tutorial at the start, we actually resorted to simply trying every menu and figuring it out ourselves, which we were able to do so after a short while. That said, we know of someone who played the game for a good amount of time without understanding that they could move and replace furnishings or buy specific racks for different items.

Still, once you know what you're doing this quickly evolves into a compulsive and addictive experience. Before long you get into a rhythm of restocking books, CDs and magazines, running pricing promotions and organising money-spinning book signings. The store and its contents rapidly evolve, if you're playing the game well, to the point where over 50 products grace ever-expanding shelves, and the task of prioritising certain items becomes increasingly important. Good financial records and sales bring investment and improved publisher relations, and each reward inevitably pushes you on.

Much like its smartphone inspirations, you're given objectives to achieve within a set period of time. The objective is to earn publisher agreements and a capital of $5,000,000, and it's more than likely that you won't achieve this at the first time of asking. The idea is that you learn from your mistakes and try again, and there's every possibility that you will, as we completed a play-through in nine hours over six sessions, providing an indication of how addictive this one can be. In that context, it's exceptional value at 200 DSiWare points.

There are a couple of technical flaws to point out, however, that undermine the experience a little. In one case, we encountered a problem with stock orders: placing orders up to a certain number for next day delivery worked well, but ordering more for two day delivery meant the order didn't arrive. We stuck with daily orders as a result, and there is a convenient option for automated re-stocking, as well. There's also an issue that you're unable to make any mass price changes — a potential workaround was a red herring — leading to the tedious process of changing over 50 products one at a time.

There are also other little quirks, such as book signings that were clearly a roaring success for the tills being declared otherwise by the game, and there is only one save file available at a time; these issues can be worked around or ignored, generally. The visuals are cute, meanwhile, but we strongly suggest listening to some music and turning the handheld's volume down, as the game's sound can grate after a while.


Bookstore Dream succeeds in many ways, as it is engrossing, addictive and entertaining for a good amount of time; a steal at 200 points. That said, there are a few bugs and annoyances to work around, and the information in the manual is sorely lacking, telling you what to do but not how to do it. Despite these problems, the overall experience is enjoyable, and if you're not careful many hours will be lost in running your humble little book shop.

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User Comments (31)



Bankai said:

Oh dear. Having played a Kairosoft game I didn't feel the urge to talk up a game that plagiarises from them.



Folkloner said:


These kind of Simulation games existed on the PC before Kairosoft came along,
so Bookstore Dream could hardly be called plagiarism.



Bankai said:

If you copy the art style, the structure of the game, the theme, and the form of music of another game, it's plagiarism.

To claim otherwise... Well, there's a Mario 3D Land ripoff which is more different to the real Mario 3D Land than this to Kairosoft games.

Apparently people only want one company to sue another when the victimised company is Nintendo



Tasuki said:

I picked up this game a few days ago and I am seriously hooked. And I agree at 2 dollars it is a steal. I hope this company continues to bring out more sim type games for the 3DS.



theblackdragon said:

@A-Hungry-Banker, @RyanO: I actually picked this up myself and I like it very much. that said, i do agree with the score and the problems mentioned — i was wondering why the hell some of my books wouldn't restock when i needed large amounts! i'll have to start paying more attention to that :/



ThomasBW84 said:

@OlympicCho I appreciate your point, but I'd class this as being heavily influenced, rather than a plagiarised game, or clone. The devs clearly aimed to replicate a popular mobile game style, but a lot of the underlying code and gameplay is tailored to the theme, not a direct lift from Pocket League Story or Dev Story (I can't remember the exact names right now, but I own them both).

@tbd: Yeah, I thought I'd messed up with a bulk order, but it's definitely a bug



Bankai said:

@ThomasBW84 - it's all good. To me Circle is another Gameloft - stealing creative companies' work and making cheap, inferior copies of it.

I don't find it ethical and I would rather people play the real game. Luckily we're both able to express our critique so people can compare and contrast



grumblegrumble said:

I picked this one up as soon as it was released, but haven't played it very much. I got about 5 minutes into it and had NO idea what I was doing! A thorough instruction manual or tutorial would have been nice. 5/10 for me.



C-Olimar said:

There were quite a few typos in this game. For example 'Leanring English'... how ironic. Also, one of the authors is called 'Black Girl'. Is that PC? Having said that, I still enjoyed this game and agree with the score.



Shiromikio said:

Good review. Had the same experience, the game just seemed too short, maybe more achievements to aim for and a variety of random events that can affect your score would provide more things to do as you run through a given day. Not too bad with the attached pricetag.



ThomasBW84 said:

@C-Olimar - I'm pretty sure that was deliberate A lot of the books had humorous titles or references to real best sellers. Harry Pitter, for example.



C-Olimar said:

@ThomasBW84 oh, well I guess it's funny then
I'm sure I saw other typos, but for £1.80 I can let them slide.
One thing I did notice about this game though:
Some of the books cost over 1000 game dollars, with others about 1/4 to 1/2 of that. OK, let's assume that $100 = £1 (ish). The staff you hire are paid $1,000 per week - about £10. Is that ethical?
Then I remembered that Circle is a chinese company...



CowLaunch said:

I have dreamed of running a bookstore, although I've never as yet dreamed of playing a game of having a dream of running a bookstore. Might check it out for 200pts, could surprise me.



ThomasBW84 said:

@C-Olimar Yeah, the pricing and valuations are completely bonkers, kind of why I opened the review like this:

"Bookstore Dream, to be clear, has about as much book-selling realism as the Call of Duty series has to real warfare."

I never thought about the salaries that way, but good point!



Morpheel said:

I found out why big orders won't arrieve sometimes.

The number of books you can have at your shop is limited by the number of shelves you buy, if you buy more books than the number you can have, the excedent will be ignored.

When you order a big number of books they take more days to come, so you'll probably end up filling your store with other orders during that time.

@People above: The "Black Girl" thing could very well be a Shekespeare reference.

Also, has anyone noticed that "Triangle" is a "Great Publisher"'? Have you seen their books? Recognize any?



OptometristLime said:

I liked this review, it reminds me of positive experiences I've had with the Tycoon games.

@ThomasBW84 - possible typo:
"Much like its smartphone inspirations, you're [given] set goals within a set period of time."



stipey said:

Can I just say, as a book store employee, that I have definitely sold books that cost more than my weekly wages.



Dizzard said:

This looks interesting. I've always liked the look of Kairosoft games but I don't have an Iphone. So I would probably get a Kairosoft game instead if it was on eShop.....but for 200 points this doesn't look too bad.



Windy said:

Excellent review of an excellent game. Guys im glad to see you expose this game it's a nice download at the bargain price. It is a cut down sim but addictive and fun. I hope we see more like this one in the future



MrWu said:

Really addictive and a greaft riff on Kairosoft's titles without it being a straight copy with a very pleasing visual style also reminiscent of Kairosoft's work.

Given CIRCLE Ent. does like to iterate and sequelize, I wouldn't mind seeing their take on Game Dev. Story, perhaps about game developers who make games for digital platforms.



ramstrong said:

Got it and love it! My very own bookstore!

That being said, the numbers aren't realistic at all. On my third try, I decided to do it the lazy way, and make decision ONLY on Saturdays where the book signing event is going on. Made 12M easy. Must be the easiest, most effortless game so far. Like watching grass grow, it's best if it's done in tandem with something else. Play it in the background, check occasionally.

I don't see the missed shipment bug? Need more shelves? Did you get Shelf B type? Those holds 40 books. Didn't see it until halfway through my 3rd game.



DemonnPrincess said:

I played it. I LOVED it! I wish that it was longer than 99 days though, because I really wanted to continue making connections with authors, and I wish that it had the ability to expand, though I DO like how everything was right there on one screen where I could see it. Very nice game. ^_^ I like simulation games and "control people" games like this.

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