There’s something that feels LAW about a monster battle creature collecting game coming to a Nintendo console. Originally released on PC on April 26, 2023, Beasts tape has made its way to the Nintendo Switch where it belongs. At first glance, Cassette Beasts clearly draws a lot of inspiration from Pokemon, but assuming it’s a Pokeclone would be a mistake. As you explore an overworld teeming with cute and cool creatures to battle and capture (or “save,” in this case) and take on an increasingly difficult array of opposing “trainers,” it’s a hodgepodge. mainly refreshing ideas outside of these bases.
After creating your little pixel avatar, you wake up on the beach of an island called New Wirral. The story of Cassette Beasts immediately becomes a little ridiculous: you find yourself isolated and separated from the real world, on an island filled with monsters that you can transform by recording them on tapes and inserting them into cassette players. At first it seems there is no way home, but with a young woman named Kayleigh, you learn there might be a way out after all by defeating a group of otherworldly creatures. called Archangels. These archangels take on weird rather than cute shapes, which sets them apart from the rest of the monsters you collect.
This setup seems rather thematically incoherent. However, the characters that inhabit this strange world are carefully written. As you spend most of your time traveling with a handful of different partners, we’ve stuck with a few of them, in particular Kayleigh. The cast are all young adults, not children, with more mature – and refreshing – issues to deal with as they come to terms with their monster-fighting lives on New Wirral.
To find the Archangels, we had to explore the island as much as possible, save new monsters, “remaster” (evolve) them into more powerful forms, and solve all sorts of side quests along the way. New Wirral itself has much more Zelda: A Link to the Past in its DNA than any Pokémon game. The map is dense rather than expansive, bounded by abilities you need to uncover to keep exploring. These come from registering certain monsters rather than, say, finding a grappling hook in a dungeon. Saving the fire-type Bulletino gave us a dash ability that broke through rock barriers, for example.
There’s a lot more to do besides this Archangel quest. Defeat Ranger captains, help the people of Harbourtown, take down a gang of vampire-like real estate agents, increase relationship levels with partners, and more. We never ran out of something to do, stumbling on the next little quest ourselves or following a rumor we heard around town. Everything was pretty smooth.
You solve almost all of these quests by fighting. One of many partners – which you control – accompanies you, which makes most fights double battles, although very often you will face only one opponent. Due to the open-ended nature of the game, we found ourselves over-leveled for some and woefully unprepared for others, which combined with some powerful mechanics created an ever-changing difficulty between destroying opponents and getting trampled. .
Although wasting time in a battle we knew we couldn’t win sometimes frustrated us, we didn’t mind the easier fights as they allowed us to experiment with complex mechanics. You see, Cassette Beasts does monster typing a little differently than you might expect. Hitting a weak or strong monster against your move causes it to react with a passive buff or debuff. A metal type will turn conductive when hit by an electric attack, taking damage from electric attacks even if not targeted, and a plastic type will turn into a poison type if hit by an electric attack. fire attack.
In fact, we found the large number of status effects overwhelming and still haven’t had a good understanding of them. Each monster also comes with eight move slots, and we only used a handful of them for a few damaging moves and a powerful status effect or two, leaving plenty of techniques – such as setting up elemental barriers to undo damage – feeling rather useless. As we continued to play most of the battles became stale as we sent damage to get through the fodder before an Archangel or Captain Ranger, where type effects and status moves became more required. Those boss fights were a good time – the ones we weren’t too level for, anyway.
Fodder or not, Cassette Beasts’ monsters steal the show. There are 120 healthy ones available – including our favorite Traffikrab carrying a traffic cone – which comes in over a dozen different types. We found the vast majority of designs to be great with even better names, swapping between Puppercut and Pombomb to level them up enough to remaster them into cool new shapes. Our ever-changing party had a lot of variety.
The fusion mechanic takes things a step further. With a partner for adventure at all times, you can merge with them when a specific gauge fills up to create a fusion of the two monsters you use: our Wooltergeist and Decibelle combined into one absurd-looking Woolbelle. With 120 monsters that can be fused with the same type, that leads to something like 14,000 possible creations. As developer Jay Baylis tell us, it is an extremely complex process. Mechanically, fusion adds stats and shares move pools, though we found the aesthetics the most appealing aspect. Some monster combinations look downright hilarious.
Even better, when melding during battle, the music channels some personas 5 energy with vocalist Shelby Harvey cutting through the lyrics. We couldn’t help but crank up the volume to max when this happened while we were merging to take down an Archangel. For a sprite-style isometric game, Cassette Beasts does a great job of making major fights feel weighty and climactic with its superb full soundtrack.
All is not sunny and dandelions, However. From the moment we woke up on New Wirral beach, the game stuttered and stopped for a minute or two until the area was fully loaded. This happened every time we started the game, entered a new area, and throughout the game cutscenes during the pre-launch review period. The devs told us they’re working on a fix for launch, so hopefully that’s not something you encounter. Since it’s a turn-based adventure, it didn’t affect our ability to play much, but it still sapped some joy to our otherwise joyful monster-fighting experience.
We still have plenty of adventures to do in New Wirral, and we don’t mind. More monsters to save and remaster, a few more mysteries to uncover, characters to love, and around 13,970 more fusions to see. Some performance issues (hopefully only pre-launch), wonky balance, and overly complex combat mechanics hardly affected how much we enjoyed Cassette Beasts. In fact, it’s one of the best monster fighting games not featuring a small electric rodent that you can enjoy on your Nintendo Switch.
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