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iPhone  header logo

Toy Factory

For: iPhone

Toy Story

Product: Toy Factory | Developer: Noritown | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Simulation | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.1
Toy Factory iPhone, thumbnail 1

A cutesy wutesy prologue explains the premise of Toy Factory thus: a gang of toys are fed up with being discarded by their children, so they resolve to go into business for themselves.

The plan is to make toys so great that kids will never ever get tired of them, and everyone will live happily ever after.

The obvious flaw in this plan is that if kids stop buying new toys to replace their old ones demand will shrivel up and the new toy factory will quickly go out of business. But why let logic get in the way of a decent yarn?

Toy Story 2

Using this silly premise as a springboard, Toy Factory puts you in charge of an end-to-end manufacturing cycle. Downstairs in the basement there’s a workshop to build the toys, and upstairs there’s a shopfront to sell the goods directly to customers.

The basics are laid down in a brief tutorial. Building toys requires you to set up machinery to manufacture parts and materials, and to acquire blueprints to make different types of toy. The larger the operation becomes, the more complicated it is in terms of paying for machines, managing timescales for component manufacture, and ensuring there's enough space to work in.

Upstairs, the shopfront needs regular maintenance through stock control and presentation. You need to set up display tables for the toys, but attractive decorations like bunting and patterned wallpaper are required too. Customers trot in and out to inspect the goods, and their satisfaction is determined by emoticons hovering over their heads.

You shuttle back and forth between the two locations via a notification system in the lower left-hand of the screen, but for the most part it’s the assignment of missions by the factory foreman that determines your priorities at a given time.

Having a bird’s eye view on supply chain economics is a marvellous conceit, and one that could easily be expanded upon for a whole series of games. A satirical commentary on the nature of capitalism, perhaps, where children are stitching football boots for a premier league football club, or chickens are battery-farmed for a supermarket chain.

Toy Story 3

Unfortunately, where Toy Factory falls flat is the in-game translation from Korean to English. There are curious discrepancies in the mission briefings, where crucial bits of information are missing or the images don’t correspond with the copy.

Because these instructions aren’t relayed properly, you're left fumbling around in a trial and error process. Mostly error.

There’s also a curious bug in the version we tested that causes the game to crash unexpectedly. You can still resume your game at the point where you were interrupted, mercifully, but it’s still annoying to deal with.

Toy Factory is free to download and play, but you can purchase extra credits that speed up the game beyond the traditional grind. Machinery times can be rather slow, for example, so dropping some coins in the slot will circumnavigate the wait.

The cash-grab isn’t as obtrusive as some other freemium games we’ve played, but it’s there nonetheless.

Social networking is well-catered for, with incentives given to invite your friends to play via Facebook, or to 'like' their official pages. You can also visit your friends’ neighbouring toy factories, and try to conceal your envy whilst trilling how much you love what they’ve done with the place.

Toy Factory is a richly featured game, with a clever concept at its heart. It’s just baffling that so little attention was paid to something as critical as the text translation.

It makes the game that much harder to enjoy and understand, and therefore harder to recommend in its current form.

Toy Factory
Reviewer photo
Bulent Yusuf | 24 February 2012
Terrible English localisation throws a spanner in the works for Toy Factory. Somebody dropped the ball in the QA dept, which is ironic considering the subject matter
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