Kairosoft is a Japanese video game developer located in Tokyo, founded in 1996. Until 2016, they have released over 40 simulation games for mobile available in English. During my recent hunt for great demos on the Nintendo Switch, I came across several games by Kairosoft and fell in love. Since November 2019, you can play select beloved titles as demos for free, or purchase the full versions on the Switch for approximately $17 USD (or less) each.
In my opinion, the controls are a lot easier to use with the Switch, but it’s hard to beat the price point of $5 USD on Androids and iOS. So, I’ve tried out everything I could on the Nintendo Switch, and bought my favorites on mobile. Then, I tried out even more demos on mobile. I tend to avoid games with the classic pixel art-style, however, watching detailed sprites going about their day with a surprising amount of animation involved, was just too cute to resist.
My List of Favorite Kairosoft Games and the Next Best Thing
There are a lot of free games by Kairosoft with micro-transactions for mobile, but my list below will only include those that are paid and can be played ‘addictively’ for hours on end. There isn’t much in terms of tutorials but the game does have a “help” section. Once you get the hang of one of these games, the gameplay and interface is basically all the same.
Moreover, you’ll always be trying to “rank up” or win awards, the newspaper will list your latest achievements, you’ll earn money and special points to level up employees or buy more items, a salesman (Pumpkin Sales) or construction worker bear (Bearington) will offer you things you’ll need to expand, etc. That being said, a lot of games have different themes and creative aspects that keep me coming back for more. The game sort of has an end-goal or “finishes” after a certain amount of time passes, but you can keep playing for as long as you want!
In my list, I have picked one favorite from each “category”, because those categories seem to have recurring similarities within them. Therefore if you like one, chances are you’ll like another one from same said category. That is why I chose a “close-second”; in case you’ve already enjoyed the one I recommend and/or where looking for your next choice.
There are certain games where you need to be mindful of the placement of rooms, not only for combos but for what it is you want to offer and the types of people you’ll be attracting. You’ll be doing a bit of everything to run this business like placing buildings, hiring staff, managing stock, etc.
Leave it to Japanese game developers to find something interesting about school. I’m glad I tried this one out because I was delightfully surprised with how much fun I had playing Pocket Academy. This game will keep you very busy as there is a lot to manage. Things like raising your students’ grades, your teachers’ skills, the amount of classrooms, clubs and activities, and more! Some of your characters will even form relationships to boost their stats.
What You Should Play Next: Pocket Clothier
Similar to Mega Mall Story in terms of owning a store, Pocket Clothier is all about buildings floors and displays for clothes. By placing specific things next to each other, you’ll get bonuses and earn more money, so combos are especially important in this game. You will also need to pay attention to seasons and what clothes are more popular at the time, all while keeping up with the latest brands and trends.
2D Style Store Arrangement
I say 2D for this category because your buildings will be flat on the one static screen while you build everything upward. You’ll be basically stacking rooms next to each other and creating “combos” and earning bonuses by placing certain things together. This category is probably the least chaotic and it is much simpler in terms of being able to move and relocate your rooms.
Mega Mall Story 2
This is a sequel to Mega Mall Story which upgraded graphics and interface. They’ve also added more rooms and modes of transportation. The focus is to build the best super mall and to invest in surrounding areas to extract more shoppers.
What You Should Play Next: The Pyaplex
The Pyrplex is an Ancient Egypt version of Mega Mall Story. Besides creating themed rooms for shopping inside your pyramid, you’ll also be creating quarters for your employees to sleep. Your employees will be laboring at the nearby mountain for building/trading materials, and to make room for your pyramid to expand.
Cooking and Restaurant Owning
With this category you’ll not only be decorating your restaurant to attract types of customers, you’ll also be discovering new dishes. In both cases you can expand to have multiple locations and staff.
The Sushi Spinnery
As far as I know, there are only two cooking simulation games by Kairosoft that are paid, but I ranked them anyway. I prefer The Sushi Spinnery because it was fun placing and creating the shape of your own conveyor belts, rather than just tables. You can also upgrade your chairs so you customers stay longer, and watch plates of sushi go-round. Furthermore, dealing with chefs is so much easier because they all specialize in just sushi.
What You Should Play Next: Cafeteria Nipponica
I have to say, this game was my least favorite of the bunch. It’s hard to earn money early on and the menu didn’t make sense to me at first. Example, Toast and Lettuce is a recipe for Salad, so guessing isn’t really an option here. Ingredients can be added to main dishes to improve them, and thankfully, it’s listed which combinations are more favorable.
Farming and Harvesting
The title is probably already self-explanatory, but I’ll elaborate anyway. You’ll be hiring workers next to areas you want them to work on because they have limited steps they can take. By creating fields of flowers, vegetables, and more, you’ll attract more visitors and make some profits.
This newer farming simulation title looks probably the best compared to the others on the list. Plus, you can finally rotate items 360 degrees. Right away there’s tons to do with actual mini-games to play and contests to enter. You can hire florists, ranchers, farmers, and ‘odd-jobers’ and watch when your visitors “take pictures” of everything (the method of earning special points).
What You Should Play Next: Pocket Harvest
Very similar to the title mentioned above but it is more focused on selling your goods. You’ll also be focusing on tending to your fields and enhancing your crops. Basically, decorating with lots of trees and scarecrows, which is a lot more fun than it sounds.
Selling Products and Training Employees
This is the only category where you won’t really be building anything. You’ll mostly be training or leveling up your employees in their fields of expertise to help create the “next big hit”. Most of the titles here are a matter of personal preference like manga, movies, games, etc, but there are a couple extra things that set my next two choices apart from the rest.
Magazine Mogul not only has you selling products, but also employs the exploration feature found in Dungeon Village for treasure chests and items, called Scouting. It’s a different way to spend your time, rather then just taking on contracts and waiting for your employees to finish them. It can be more difficult to make money this way, however you can actually take on loans this time. Eventually, you can even be part of the city council and help with their development to raise the town’s popularity.
What You Should Play Next: Anime Studio Story
I loved Anime Studio Story because you don’t just combine stories and themes together that will sell well, but you’ll also be adding the “starring hero” of your anime. By pleasing your fans, you can discover different outfits and mix-and-match them up to create your own characters! I feel like that gives you a lot more control over your creative masterpiece then, say, Game Dev Story.
Town-Building, with Combat
It completely threw me to be building the layout of a town but to also manage and equip your villagers to be able to take part in battles. Instead of giving your villagers items to boost their productivity and such, you’ll be giving them better weapons and armor.
Dungeon Village is hands-down my favorite Kairosoft game ever. You build homes for your adventurers, stores where they need to shop for their equipment, and inns to replenish their health. Enemies will periodically pop up, with some cheeky dialog might I add, for your adventurers to defeat. When your characters faint, another one will grab them, lift them over their heads, and run to safety. It is too adorable.
What You Should Play Next: Ninja Village
The combat in Ninja Village is much more involved because you’ll be building an army. Pay the shogunate for more infantry, gunners, archers, and cavalry, and plan your formation! This is how you’ll be expanding your territory with more land; by defeating other clans in battle.
I hope you enjoyed my recommendations! I’d also like to hear all about which games sound the most interesting to you, and/or which ones you’ve already played and loved!