Our copy of Anime Studio Simulator was provided to us for review purposes. We would like to thank Visualnoveler for allowing us the privelage of reviewing it for them. Enjoy.
As a fan of anime, I’ve been interested in the process of anime creation ever since I discovered the medium. It’s why I loved the anime Shirobako so much, and why I was eager to dive right in immediately after hearing about this game.
Anime Studio Simulator is a visual novel style simulation game that gives you the ability to control how your team makes the anime that they have set out to create. The story begins with recent high school graduate Yukari, who will be attending university in a few months. Her life-long dream has been to make and direct an anime, and she starts working towards this dream with the support of her friend Mayumi. With the advent of an investment from someone close to her, she is able to start up a small anime studio and start working on the anime of her dreams.
Making an anime requires more than directing, however, and she recruits four more people to help her make this dream a reality. Her aforementioned friend, Mayumi, joins the team as the musician in charge of the soundtrack, and fulfilling other various sound-oriented tasks that the anime requires. A pair of sisters by the names of Yuuko and Sumiko (older and younger) fill the role of artists. Yuuko takes the reigns of character designs, while Sumiko tackles the backgrounds. Rounding out this group is Shunsuke who does an assortment of tasks, but who’s main role is to write the script.
I enjoyed the art in Anime Studio Simulator quite a bit. The character designs were fantastic, each being distinct in their own fashion. My favorite of the characater designs was the one for Sakura (pictured above in pink), who was a voice actress hired to voice a character in the anime I made. The backgrounds are all fairly simple, (just various rooms like the studio, recording booth, restaurant, etc.), but I appreciated the level of detail in some of them. The studio that everyone works in has a poster of a girl in cat ears, some figures on a shelf, and the studio that I chose to do my animation had similar details as well. They are minor features, but they are the sorts of things that I would imagine being in my workspace if I were working on an anime.
The writing was the weakest part of this game, but even then I didn’t find it to be poorly written. There were times where the conversational dialogue between people seemed to me to be trying too hard to sound like a natural conversation between friends. There were also moments of great writing. One particular scene partway through the story contains a back and forth between members of the team about what anime they like, and how they like to consume media. To me the writer really nailed that scene. I could absolutely envision that conversation happening between myself and people I know. The writer of this game also wasn’t afraid to name-drop anime, which I found to be highly amusing, as most other games and anime that I have consumed usually come up with ridiculously similar names for such things.
The bread and butter of Anime Studio Simulator lies in the mechanics of the game. It is a simulator, as the name implies, and that entails managing several parameters on each character (happiness, stress, and proficiency), while trying to increase the rating of certain aspects of the anime. You also have a budget, so maintaining your teams morale, making your anime decent, and not going bankrupt can prove to be a challenge. If a team member becomes too stressed, or if you run out of money your game is over.
The game also presents you with a number of choices as you progress through the story. Each of these choices could affect anything from the moral of your team, to investor opportunities, and even choosing between two animation studios to make your anime. Whenever a major decision had to be made, I had to sit there and think through the possible consequences of each decision, and they were almost always never easy decisions to make. The only easy decision that I had to make was deciding what kind of anime to produce. The three options presented to me were “Harem”, “Mystery”, and “Action”, and I of course went with “Harem”!
Due to decisions like the type of anime to make, and what studio I should choose to make the anime, I believe that Anime Studio Simulator has a moderately-high amount of replay value. I’m curious about what the story of making a mystery anime would be like, and what would happen if I chose a different studio than the one I had previously? My play-through of the game took a little over 6 hours, which is a good length for a visual novel of this size and price point.
I managed to make it through the game without failing on my first play. I chose to make a harem anime called “Love is Science” (you get to pick the name!), and despite some hiccups with the studio that I chose, I managed to successfully make an anime! Love is Science received mixed reviews on its debut, but my investors were happy with my work and the potential for making more of Love is Science is there!
All in all, I was very happy with how this game played out. I enjoyed the ride that the characters went on as they experienced the highs and lows of making anime, and what would a story be without themes of perseverance and friendship! One thing that I would have enjoyed would have been some voice acting in the game, but the lack of voice acting doesn’t detract from the enjoyment at all. While Anime Studio Simulator is not Shirobako, it was a fun and enjoyable game that is absolutely worth the $9.99 that it runs on Steam when not on sale.
TL;DR: Good art, decent writing and solid game-mechanics make Anime Studio Simulator a fun to play visual novel.
Recommended Audiences: All ages. There is nothing that should cause concern for anyone in this game.
Yumiko and the team work their butts off and get a 4/5!
We at Anime Arcade want to once again thank Visualnoveler for providing us with a review copy of the game!
The game can be purchased on Steam: HERE