I worked in retail for a long time. I have over a decade under my belt of dealing with crazed customers, wacky coworkers, and the ins and outs of retail life. Circle’s latest game Conveni Dream takes the retail experience and shrinks it down in a portable form.
Conveni Dream is a very basic retail simulation game where you take the reins of a convenience store. It is up to you to hire staff and manage the store.
You’ll first need to hire staff and give them positions. There are three roles in your store: cashier, cleaners, and goods checkers. At the start of the game you’ll only have access to a few staffers, which means that you’ll have to do a lot of stuff manually. At least one cashier is required to get started, but the other roles can remain unfilled if you so desire. The cleaners will be the one who empties the trash bin outside of the store and makes sure that any trash in the store is taken care of. The goods checker is responsible for restocking the shelves when they either sell out or expire and need to be dumped.
There are different types of shelving units to choose from in the game, with more being unlocked as you progress. The different types of shelves allow for different commoditites to be stocked. There are regular shelves, drink chillers, fridges, freezers, and more. Each unit can hold one lot of items, with more advanced units being able to hold more stock. Bigger units means less restocking required, but also risks food going unsold.
As you play through the game there are various missions to complete. These include things like selling a specific number of items or growing the store. When these goals are met you’ll gain experience or cash. Typically completing goals like adding certain fixtures or customer-centric goals leads to an experience boost. Meeting a sales goal usually results in an infusion of cash as a reward.
Eri, the area manager, will also visit your store on occasion to inspect it. She inspects for your in-stock integrity and cleanliness of your store. After she walks through you’ll receive a heart rating, with either a pink heart or a blue heart displayed. If you collect four pink hearts from four visits you’ll be rewarded with a chunk of experience. However if she’s not pleased and you get a blue heart then you’ll lose one of your pink hearts.
As with any simulation game about a business, there is a balance sheet which must be kept. The game keeps this pretty simple and it requires no input from the player at all. At the end of each day you’ll be greeted with the results from the day, including the days revenue, the cost of store upkeep, and the salary for your employees. The end result is, of course, the profit line. In the time I played, even with the cost of purchasing new fixtures, I rarely had a day in the red.
Each week typically has a theme or event, with select items that are featured sellers. These are items that the game suggests that you stock to maximize sales. As well, the top screen displays a customer prediction bar graph. This graph is broken into four age groups, which are split up into male and female. For every items that you can stock in the game you will be shown which of the eight customer groups are likely to purchase that item. If the prediction for the week is that there will be more teen boys in the store than other shoppers, it’s advantageous to stock items that cater to that customer. Other items will also sell, however selecting more of these items will help you maximize your sales.
For the most part, once you get things set up you can pretty much put the game into autopilot. Almost.
The store will pretty much run itself once you have three of each type of employee on the payroll with very little intervention. When the shelves need restocking they will take care of that. When there are drunkard customers (yes, really) or shoplifters they will also intervene for you. When the trash needs to be emptied they will also take care of that. Once you get things going the only things you’ll need to do it tap through at the end of each day and adjust what is being sold each week as the customer predictions change. Also since some items that are sold are limited time only items, once they become unavailable you’ll have to manually choose something to sell of the shelf will sit bare.
Visually the game is a departure from Circle’s previous “Dream” sim games. Whereas they were more of the 3/4 view pixel art, this game has more of a chibi look and art style. Of course that it perfectly befitting the game as the setting is Japan. Rather than fully localizing the game and “Americanizing” many of the retail items, what you sell in the store is unmistakably Japanese. Add that to the local Japanese festivities and the game has a nice overseas touch.
The game is primarily controlled via the touch screen. Everything from placing racks, selecting items to sell, moving the camera around the store, opening and using the menus, and directing staff is all done via the touch screen. This works pretty well, and since the circle pad can also be used to move the camera round.
One slight downside, which isn’t really related to the controls, is that there are times when it’s possible to tap on the wrong thing. At times when you see a drunkard, or one of your staff are flustered, you can tap on them to help deal with the situation. However if you miss them, or are too early to deal with the drunkard or shoplifter, you will actually open the menu to set a new counter or restock a shelf. This can be a bit bothersome as there is a bit of a delay to open and close this menu.
Overall Conveni Dream is a satisfying simulation game. While there isn’t anything spectacular or noteworthy in the game, it does have some charm which makes it fun to keep popping in.