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Gabe / on Mon, Aug 6 2012 at 2:10 pm

Outernauts

I play Outernauts everyday. Technically I play it twice a day. It’s one of these Facebook games that uses “energy” to keep you from having as much fun as you want. So I play it in the morning and then I let my energy build up and play it again before I leave the office. I am not a Facebook person. In fact I had to create an account just so I could play Outernauts. It’s an awesome game but being tied to Facebook only hurts it.

Besides energy, Outernauts has a couple other currencies. You have Lunars which is what they call the money you can earn in the game and Star Gems which is the currency you buy with real money. Unlike a lot of these games I’ve seen no way to earn Star Gems in the game. As best I can tell you can only get these by trading real money. I’m not opposed to this fundamentally but I have a problem with the way it is integrated here.

Outernauts is essentially space Pokemon. You travel from planet to planet collecting these amazing looking little aliens and then you battle with them. The problem is that during a battle you can pay Star Gems to fully restore a beast’s health and stamina. Back when I used to play Pokemon on the DS I would battle people all the time. Generally speaking you would not heal during a fight because it was a waste of money and it didn’t make for an especially good game. It was usually just considered bad form to heal during a fight. In a real time battle this is something you can agree on with your opponent. The fights in Outernauts are not real time though. If someone wants to duel me they will face my beasts but the AI will be playing them. Since the AI won’t spend my Star Gems (thank god) I’m at an incredible disadvantage. Each time I log into Outernauts I am greeted by a long list of the duels I lost while I was away.

I’m not saying they all used Star Gems to win but even having the option in multiplayer seems like a bad idea to me. Also the inability to have a real time battle sucks. The best part of these creature capture games is battling other people. If I’m playing the single player campaign or “dueling my friends” I’m still battling the computer. I don’t know if this is a limitation of Facebook or what but it really hurts the game in my opinion.

The energy system is also terrible. Insomniac has made a really fun game here and as a hard core gamer I could easily sit down at my computer and drop two or three hours on it if they would let me. I am not a casual gamer. I do not flit from game to game during the day when I’m bored at work. I block out hours of my day to invest in playing video games. The fact that my gameplay time is limited makes me much less likely to ever invest in their paid currency. Look at League of Legends. This is another game with a paid currency but since I’m allowed to get obsessed with it (and I have) I have dropped all kinds of real money in their store. Outernauts will never let me care enough about it to actually buy Star Gems.

If you can’t tell I find the game very frustrating. I love it but I hate that it’s plugged into Facebook. I dislike the constant prompts to share my status or ask for items from my friends. I hate the energy system and the lack of true multiplayer. But the designs for the creatures are amazing, I love catching them, I love the battle mechanics and the overworld map play. I love the game I just don’t like how they make me play it.

-Gabe out


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