Is this the iOS Pokemon we’ve been waiting for?
Kairosoft has been pushing out mobile strategy titles nonstop since the lauded release of Game Dev Story. Beastie Bay is the most recent Kairosoft game released for iOS, and it aims to add yet another layer of depth to the Kairosoft management system – monster catching.
The monster collection and battling in Beastie Bay, while simplistic, is a welcome addition to the formulaic management aspects of games like Mega Mall Story, it makes the game feel like it is less about waiting for the next progress bar to fill. However; the battles themselves aren’t well paced. Most encounters crawl by as each team’s hit points inch towards zero, and monster skill sets present few opportunities to think tactically. The arenas are actually more colorful and interesting than those in Pokemon, but the monsters could have been patched together a bit more logically. I still can’t figure out why my broccoli creature knows a skill called “fire breath.”
Everything else in Beastie Bay works in support of your monster catching escapades. Buildings and research boost your recovery, income, and ability to explore, allowing you to progress in dungeons and purchase restorative items (which are a little too expensive at the outset). Dungeons and new areas are explored autonomously and in a linear fashion. The player character jogs along the bottom of the screen in a small window that depicts the dungeon. Enemy encounters pause progression and fill the screen with the JRPG style battle window. I don’t like having to slog through the entire dungeon in search of a specific monster, but fortunately you can escape the dungeon at any time if you have accomplished what you set out to do or just need to heal up.
Beastie Bay is a port from the Android platform, and there are some graphical issues with the game that seem to have occurred via flat-out laziness. The game is free with ads running at the bottom of the screen. In this mode (at least on the iPad) the game runs with black bars around the sides of the screen. Paying to remove ads doesn’t remove the black bars, which makes the game feel like less of a universal app and more of an iPhone game in 2x mode. Many sprites are also blurry in some parts of the game, but not in others – which leads me to believe that in some spots the sprite is actually being scaled while in others it is just a stretched rastered image.
As fair warning, Beastie Bay features further microtransactions beyond the pay to remove ads option. Medals can be purchased to speed up tasks, but I didn’t find them all that necessary. Surprisingly, the entire game can actually be played without hitting a freemium wall.
Beastie Bay is a decent Pokemon-like layered on top of familiar Kairosoft mechanics. While I pointed out many criticisms of the game, there is something gratifying about the simple progression and cheery nature of Beastie Bay. It falls short of the bar set by other serious monster catching titles, but the interaction between simulation and hunting is just enough to pull you through the game’s arc.
Beastie Bay is available as a Universal App for free.