If you’re anything like us, then you’ve likely played some, if not all, of Kairosoft’s ‘Story’ series of time-management simulation games. These insanely addictive handheld time-sinks have almost certainly been responsible for loads of gamers forgetting to do basic things like feed the cat or go to sleep.
But you may have also thought their games were getting a little stale, a little “samey.” Thankfully, Kairosoft seems to have realized this as well, and with their latest game, Epic Astro Story, they’ve changed up the formula a bit with a fun sci-fi setting, cheeky humor, and a new battle system to make something that feels fresh and new, while still maintaining that infamous sleep depriving gameplay.
Hustle and bustle.
If you’ve played Kaitosoft’s Venture Towns or Oh! Edo Towns then you’re pretty familiar with the basic game mechanics in Epic Astro Story. You start on a little undeveloped grid that you have to develop, and you’ll eventually cover the entire planet.
You have to create things like mines, factories, and fields to establish an economy. You’ll need houses for your residents and vacation spots to attract alien visitors in order to establish a robust tourism industry and intergalactic relations. You select your buildings from a menu and then drag and drop them where you want them on the grid. Proper placement is important, as putting certain things next to each other can maximize your money and research capabilities.
All of this gets you money and research points that you can use to do things like develop new technologies, level up your citizens, and buy upgrades. You also explore the land around you by sending out groups of people to open up the world. Prospecting these unseen territories can net you money, artifacts, or research points, and sometimes you’ll find caves to explore or aliens that will invite you to visit their home planet. Visiting alien planets is the main way to get new citizens, as you can invite them to leave their homeworld and set up shop on yours. Your planet and your citizens are constantly evolving, and it’s up to you to keep track of the progress and make sure everything is running smoothly.
This means war.
The exploration part is where things get really interesting and take a turn from the usual Kairosoft tropes. When you send out a search party you first have to decide who to bring along, as certain people are more skilled at exploring than others. Then a tiny window at the bottom of the screen opens up to chart your group’s progress. It’s littered with question marks, and every time the party stops at one, something will happen. They’ll find money or research points, get tired and slow down, find resources, or in some instances encounter hostile creatures that want to do you harm.
Battles take place in a separate window, with your party on a grid on the left hand side. You place your warriors where you want them, decide which weapons and armor they’ll use, hit the ‘Start Battle’ button, and then hope for the best. The fights are quick and dirty, but there’s actually a fair amount of strategy involved, as different characters have different skills and are better suited for various situations.
There’s a ton more that we could go into, but suffice it to say that if you’ve liked Kairosoft’s previous offerings, then you’ll love Epic Astro Story. The micromanagement aspect will probably turn off some, but lovers of the genre will be in heaven. There’s enough of the same type of gameplay we’ve come to know and appreciate from the company that’ll you’ll feel at home, but the exploring and battling that’s involved adds an exciting new element that will make you want to spend hours upon hours figuring out the right way to do things and finding new places to exploit– er, we mean explore.