Since the birth of my daughter, my time to play video games is now incredibly limited. With my new schedule and responsibilities, I can fit in the odd hour here or there but for someone who used to plough through 3-4 hours a session, it was a real shock to the system. I also found that my new one-hour snippets left me frustrated, annoyed and unfulfilled, so I just stopped playing altogether.
Then I discovered indie games…
I know, I know, I’m very late to the party but as a casual gamer whose interest was only in the big-name AAA titles, indie games had previously escaped me. It was all thanks to Game Pass on Xbox and the fact that for I could download and try whatever game I wanted, at no additional cost. If I liked the artwork or trailer, I decided to give it a try.
Being a sucker for pixel art and the graphics of yesteryear, I discovered Stardew Valley, Moonglow Bay and Spiritfarer to name but a few. These games were fine in small doses, I felt I could enjoy a quick 30 minutes/one hour session at a time without getting overtly frustrated and desperate for more. They fitted perfectly with my new schedule as a father, one with very limited free time.
I was surprised to find that these games were incredibly therapeutic and mindful, instead my usual fix of headshot kills and blowing things up, I was farming, fishing, collecting and simply watching my characters and games grow. It became a relaxing experience.
When I was a kid, I absolutely adored Pokémon (the game, the trading cards, and the original animated series). I couldn’t wait for the UK release of the Game Boy game, so I imported Pokémon Red from the USA a couple of months early. Which led to a brief surge in school yard popularity for me, as I was the only kid in town to own the new craze, God bless the days of region free cartridges!
As much as I loved training and collecting my Pokémon, I left it behind after the Gold/Silver generation, as my tastes as a growing teenager evolved (pun intended).
In a fit of nostalgia, I’ve attempted to get back into many of my old hobbies, one of them being Pokémon, desperate to recapture that old feeling. Yet almost 25 years had passed, and I didn’t know where to begin. When I left the series there was but 251 to collect, now there was well over a 1000 and it was just a little too daunting for me, alas I never returned.
Then I stumbled across the indie game, Cassette Beasts, and it perfectly filled in that gap. It was purely by chance that I found it, I was perusing Game Pass and saw a cute little game logo with pixels and cassettes. Being the retro hound that I am, I decided to give it a try.
Developed by UK based, two-man team, Bytten Studio, it’s basically a modern-day Pokémon. The gameplay has many similarities, but instead of catching monsters in balls, you record them on cassette tapes and transform into them yourself.
In comparison, it has a much deeper story with tonnes of heart & soul and made me laugh on numerous occasions. Whilst there may be only 120 monsters, there’s the ability to fuse them together with a mammoth 14,000 possible combinations!
You play a fully customisable character, who wakes up on a beach in the strange world of New Wirral. You’ve been transported to this monster filled world from Earth and are on a mission to get back home with the aid of your fellow stranded inhabitants.
Cassette Beasts features witty writing, great character development, incredible in-game music and best of all (for a busy parent) I could pick up and continue where I left off with ease. The beasts and remasters (evolutions) are incredibly well designed and unique, there was more originality in the character design that anything I’ve seen in more recent Pokémon generations. All of this makes Cassette Beasts so much more than just a Pokémon clone.
The gameplay is not incredibly tough but gives you more than enough of a challenge to keep you coming back for more. Instead of Pokémon’s random encounters, all enemies are visible, and therefore avoidable if you so wish. Elemental differences and status changes also play a much bigger role part in the battle system and it’s generally more strategic.
So, if you ever get that urge to scratch that nostalgia itch or are just looking for a fun new experience that you can enjoy in small doses, then I couldn’t recommend Cassette Beasts more.
It’s available on Switch, Xbox (currently on Game Pass) and PC, so go check it out!