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Toy Shop

Score: 84%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: GameInvest
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Toy Shop is a new strategy/RPG type game, heavier on the strategy. Here, the strategy is to run a toy shop that your two characters have inherited from their Grandfather. You have three years in which to make it profitable, or you will lose the shop forever.

The graphics in Toy Shop are very simple. They are bright and very well done. It's easy to see what everything is, so you don't have any trouble telling what you need. Except for the characters that you interact with, the rest of the people are pretty generic. There are 12 different people that you can talk to that say anything other than how the weather is. They all have their own look and personalities, some of which are quite characters!

There isn't much in the way of sound. The background music is generic, but pleasant to listen to and non-obtrusive. None of the characters actually talk, you just read their words. You do get sounds that help you to know when everything happens. There's a cash register jingle when you make a sale, a bell when the door opens, and different sounds when you succeed or fail in making the toys.


Gameplay:

As I said before, in Toy Shop, you are playing as both a brother and his older sister. They have inherited a toy shop and must make it profitable within 3 years or they will lose it. Mark runs the workshop. He is in charge of the production of all the toys. Mel runs the store. She handles the customers and the cash register.

The first thing you have to keep in mind is that there is a limited time for your game. Of course, that is a pretty long time. Each day lasts 5 minutes in real time. There are 30 days in a season, 4 seasons per year, and you have 3 years to prove your worth. If you multiply that out, you'll notice that it's a grand total of 30 hours real time, not counting the quick cut scenes between each day. Given that much time, you've got plenty of time to unlock everything and make the money you need, so there's no rush.

At the start, there are only a few toys that Mark can make perfectly. How well Mark can make a toy is shown next to the toy name when you click on the toy in the workshop screen. Below the name, you'll also see how many toys you currently have in stock, what level the toy is at, and how many you have to make before you hit the next level. This level is very important. When you hit level 20, you'll start making 2 toys for the price of one. When you hit level 30, you'll make 3 for the price of one. Now, obviously this is a great way to make money. There are six categories of toys that you can make. Tapping on the tab at the bottom of the workshop screen will switch between them. Just keep switching between them all and keep your toy stock up. Customers might be unhappy if you don't have stocked what they want.

When you are running the shop as Mel, there are a few things you can do to try and keep your customers as happy as possible. The happier your customers are, the more people they will tell about your shop. More people shopping mean more profits for you. When the customer comes in, you can tap on them to see what type of toy they are shopping for and how much money they have in their wallet. By watching the customers, you can try to help Mark figure out what toys he should be making. Unfortunately, there's really no way when a customer leaves unhappy to determine if it was the cost of the toy or the lack of the toy they wanted there, but usually you can tell just by looking at the stock and your costs.

There is also the RPG part of the game. Listen to what Mel tells you at the beginning of each day. When she says we should go to a location, it is to trigger an event. Sometimes you will need to go multiple times, and I mean like 6 or 7 times, to complete the event. "Our Neighbors" refers to the residential district. The others she calls by name. After the first year though, she tells you a lot less. You should make sure to visit all the locations at the beginning of each season to see if there's anything or anyone new there.


Difficulty:

Toy Shop can be a very difficult game if you are not careful with your money at the beginning. You should definitely start out by just making the toys that you have a 100% chance of success in making. While it might seem boring to own a toy shop that sells only rag dolls and toy trains, it won't take too long for you to have enough money to work on those that you have a lesser chance of making correctly. If you do happen to run out of money completely, supposedly your parents will send you money at the end of the month. I think they only send it if you are out of stock too though, because I did end the month with $0, but still didn't get money from the parents, I'm guessing because I still had plenty of toys in the shop.

After I got past that first part trying to manage money, I didn't find any more difficulties until I bought the bigger shop. It cost $5,000 to upgrade, which was a lot considering I only had $7,500 at the time, but I made the money back that day. The bigger shop had so many more customers that they practically emptied my store the first day. After that, it was all I could do to keep toys on the shelf. I had to go back to making the toys that I had at level 20 or 30 just to have something to sell. There were a few days that I just left the store closed to make toys.


Game Mechanics:

Mechanically, Toy Shop is very easy to control. Most of the game is controlled by using the touch screen. To move the characters around when they are in the various areas, just touch where you want them to walk to. I found it was easiest to just hold the stylus down in the direction I wanted to walk. When they are in the workshop/shop, you don't have to move the characters around. They move on their own. Mel stays behind the counter. You tap on the customers to see their stats. You can tap on the cash register and it will show your daily and monthly expenses and profits.

Mark will automatically move to whichever bench he needs to be to make the toy requested. You can help him make the toys faster by giving him the tools he requests. To pass him the tool, you press left, right, up, or down on the D-pad, whichever one corresponds to the tool he wants. This will greatly speed up his production, but if you pass him the wrong tool, he will automatically fail on that toy, even if it is one that he can make with 100% certainty.

The Start button pauses the game, which is very helpful since time doesn't pause for anything else during the game. The one flaw I found was that the game does not update your cost to produce the toys on the store screen. It always shows whatever the original cost is, even though it gets cheaper to make the toys with the higher levels. That means that whenever you're trying to fix the cost of the toy in the shop, you'll have to remember what your current cost to produce is to figure out how much your profit is.

Overall, I enjoyed Toy Shop. It is a long game though, and I'm definitely not recommending it for everyone. If you're looking for a strategy involving war games or action, you should probably skip it. If you like games like Metropolismania or even the Sim City games, you'll probably enjoy it. It is not quite the same as city building, but I enjoyed it just as much.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

Sony PlayStation Portable Echochrome Sony PlayStation Portable R-Type Command

 
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