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Developer: Insolita Studios, Thomas Egas

Price: $1.99
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S

Graphics/Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Ever wondered what it would be like  to run an ad agency in the 1980s? Having a grasp of the things that inevitably caught on and the things that didn’t, where would we be now? Thanks to a new game by Insolita Studios and Thomas Egas, players will have a chance to find out. Sort of.

Campaign bears a lot of similarities to Kairosoft’s awesome Game Dev Story. Players are cast in a small office, fronted by a charismatic secretary, and tasked with creating engaging ad campaigns for the world to get behind. While there are no official labels or company names in here, it’s always very clear who’s who with little tongue-in-cheek references.

Once players name their company, they then take on their first project. Each project gives players  a certain amount of credibility, measured in stars. The higher the amount of stars, the bigger the project. Each project is also tailor-made for a particular demographic, be it the elderly, children, young couples or families. Players will then have to choose a setting best suited to that demographic, and then couple that with an overall characteristic to drive attention towards it. Each member of staff in the player’s agency has a unique personality trait, and their style is used to spearhead the project.  Bearing that in mind, players will also need to consider their target audience and ensure that they are tailoring the advertising campaign appropriately. Finally, players must then decide how to spread the word about the campaign, whether they use TV, radio, print or snail-mail.

Of course, not all combinations will work. If players try and combine toys and fun on an ad campaign for health care for the elderly, it’s, well, probably not going to work. As long as players consider their audience’s interests, they are almost guaranteed a success story every time.

Unfortunately, that’s the general rule of thumb with Campaign, and it’s formula becomes tiresome after just a few ‘game years’ of play. Whereas Game Dev Story gave players the opportunity to research items outside of the game, motivate staff and eventually reach the dizzying heights of developing a console, Campaign relies too much on its wits and looks. For Campaign, though, once it starts repeating the same jokes and players realise their choices are generally limited to an A or B answer, they’ll soon find themselves looking for an out.

The graphical quality is of a high standard, and while the artstyle would be very befitting in a Kairosoft universe, Campaign does carve its own niche. However, there’s no real hook to the game, and once the initial layers get peeled bac, players will find there’s a lot of hot air, and not much substance.

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