It seems like, once a year now, I try another Facebook game. I gave The Sims Social a go for a decent bit back in late 2011, eventually moving away when my house full of trees and bushes took forever to load, as well as the fact that I was running out of complete-able quests. Before that, in 2010, I enjoyed my short time–and I do mean short–as a chocobo rancher. I don’t really desire gaming on Facebook other than the occasional round of Words With Friends, and I’m totally aware of its constant trappings and never-yielding plot to annoy my online friends, fill my wall up with ridiculous claims, and attempt to have me spend real cash-money on things like Sim coins and star gems and poodle bucks.
And so, here we are in 2012, and I’m just getting into Outernauts. It’s got some good and some bad, and, for the time being, I’m willing to overlook the bad to embrace the good. But I can’t see this experience lasting for very long though.
Right. So, Outernauts. Basically, it’s Pokemon in space. And there’s nothing wrong with that. At all. In fact, it’s a stellar idea, and I’m somewhat surprised we haven’t seen it yet; if a game like this already exists, I missed it or it didn’t shout its premise loud enough for the world to hear. I mean, there are plenty of Pokemon clones out there–Digimon and Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, for instance–but neither of those focus on space critters and traversing different galaxies. Outernauts does, and it makes much more sense when you realize that Insomniac Games is behind it. Yes, more from the creative minds behind all the zany weapons, monsters, and planets in the Ratchet and Clank series. That’s actually what grabbed my interest first before the whole “gotta catch ‘em all” aspect.
For a free-to-play Facebook game, surprisingly, there’s a story. I can’t remember the specifics or names, so I’ll just use this generic text from Insomniac’s website for Outernauts:
As a member of United Earth’s elite Outernaut force, you’ll encounter both friends and foes as you uncover the riddle behind the mysterious “ancients” while battling pirates and evil corporations seeking to control the galaxy.
All in all, you’re looking for a thing, and so is an evil corporation, and to stop them from getting the thing, you need to battle and beat them with a team of exotic beasts. You level these beasts up by battling them and tweaking their abilities.
Right now, my cosmic team of battling beasties consists of these:
Note that those are the nicknames I gave my beasts, not their actual names. I think my leading one is a…Pumasear? Scorl is a Scorling. Can’t tell you what the other two are. I don’t remember. I have too many ‘mon names in my brain to differentiate this from that and that from this. Anyways, Purrburn is my strongest beast, mostly because I used all my Star Gems on it, not knowing that those are the “FarmVille bucks” of the game, limited and then only acquirable thereafter with real money. Oh well.
The music and artwork and design of everything is great, classic Insomniac charm. Colorful and inventive, with the gusto of space opera and pomp of Buzz Lightyear. Everything is easily explained and clear, and there’s lots of carrots on sticks to chase after. However, as with all Facebook games, the most disappointing and distrusting element is…energy. To battle, use 3 energy. To clear a path, use energy. To gather fuel, use energy. Need more energy? Pay up or wait awhile. The point is, you run out of energy real fast, and so playing Outernauts quickly becomes a game of management over experiencing, and that’s not too much fun. But I’d rather do as much as I can at once rather than blow my time on a wasted fight, which ends with my beasts being knocked out and unable to battle any more.
I’ll keep logging in for now to give Outernauts ten or fifteen minutes of my attention each day, but eventually I’ll walk away. Too many strange limitations in how many beasts I can have in my party and what I can actually do in a certain span of time, and I can just easily go back to my copies of Pokemon HeartGold, Pokemon White, or Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker to fill in the gaps.