Cassette Beasts evolves Pokémon counters system with wacky special Chemistry side status effects

Cassette Beasts Evolves Pokémon’s Counter System with Wacky Status Effects

Out on Game Pass, Cassette Beasts remixes Pokémon-esque monster duels with gorgeous 2D sprites and a novel battle system. While the new Pokémon games feature vast open worlds too, this game’s pixel art makes my heart yearn for the Emerald and LeafGreen days of my childhood. The internet wasn’t giving away tips on getting shiny Pokémon back then, making my shiny Dugtrio that much more memorable.

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This game doesn’t adopt Pokémon’s systems just to win brownie points, though. Cassette Beasts makes meaningful additions to the traditional counter-based systems we’ve grown to love. Right off the bat, the game’s progression system dusts off some cobwebs.

With 14 monster types, I assumed this game would follow in the footsteps of its famous monster-collecting inspiration. Strengths and weaknesses are common in turn-based games, especially in monster-collecting ones. But Cassette Beasts shakes up Pokémon’s established rules. Being able to fuse any of its 120 monsters makes for some interesting possibilities. However, that’s not the only major draw. The right moves in Cassette Beasts can transmute enemies, changing their type during a battle.

This lets you craft strategies that don’t just account for a monster’s current weakness but for its next type as well. I started trying out new attacks on the monsters I came across, looking for effects that weren’t all obvious. With types like Plastic and Glass, it took me a while to figure out which attacks were best against them. Cassette Beasts’ moves have a wide range of type-specific bizarre effects to keep in mind.

While this might intimidate beginners, you can be perfectly competent at the game without mastering its secrets. Discovering these quirks for the first time felt like milestones that sprung out of nowhere. For instance, you could hit your ally with a weak move to grant them a buff. Fire attacks on a Water type grant them “healing steam.”

Cassette Beasts evolves Pokémon counters system with wacky special Chemistry side status effects

I found plenty more effects, from Glass types shattering shards across the stage to Fire attacks melting Plastic types and altering them to the Poison type. These moves drastically altered the playing field by modifying monster stats like evasion, attack, or defense. While you can’t be prepared for every encounter, I reworked my monster party to take advantage of these effects. The devs made a handy “Chemistry” chart, but I don’t expect players to check it as they shuffle between attacks and dodges.

The protagonist levels up alongside your set of companions, meaning that, while your adorable monsters still gain abilities with experience, your latest captures won’t be absurdly under-leveled. You collect these beasts by recording them on cassette tapes, and yes, you use a rewinding pencil to heal them. Stylistic choices like these really flesh out Cassette Beasts’ world.

An open quest structure paired with a Persona-esque social link system makes the non-battle segments worth investing in, especially since they tie into combat itself. Form stronger bonds with your companions and they’ll become even more potent in battle. Those expecting a cutesy adventure will be in for a shock though. The game’s difficulty can get challenging, forcing you to make the most of these effects and weaknesses. While its inspirations are clear, I’m glad Cassette Beasts takes its veteran audience seriously. Cassette Beasts appeals to Pokémon fans looking for a nostalgia dive packed with modern flourishes befitting the monster duel genre.


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Author
Antony Terence
Once an engineer responsible for steel plant equipment, Antony now writes on everything from games and consumer tech to fiction. From watching his dad set up a PC to actively following gaming right from school, it’s no surprise that Antony wanted to write about games. He’s had three fulfilling years as a freelance journalist to preach about humanity’s greatest artform: videogames. Antony has worked on everything from news and deep dives to opinions, reviews and retrospectives for IGN, Techradar, Rock Paper Shotgun, GamesIndustrybiz, and more. He’s drawn to stories, meaning that anime, fantasy novels and games across genres count among his pastimes. While Antony is particularly fond of citybuilders and strategy titles, he won’t turn down a chance to play a JRPG or a turn-based roguelike. As long as it has a story, it’s fair game. When he isn't rediscovering his love for retro strategy titles, you'll find Antony at tech stores or board game cafes.