False Start from a Faulty Background
Beast Quest Ultimate Heroes is, unsurprisingly, not the first video game Aminoca Brands has created in the franchise. What is surprising is that these games are based off the book series Beast Quest, aimed towards kids ages seven and up. The books come with trading cards, which is neither here nor there, but isn’t that awesome?
In general, games based off books are hit-and-miss. For example, we have The Witcher, which was a Polish book series that turned into a pretty great game series. (While on the other hand we have the Harry Potter computer games. Actually, those games were pretty sick, too.)
What’s most surprising is that while the Beast Quest book series seems to be generally loved, the games do not.
The Game Itself
The setting and characters of Beast Quest are pulled straight from the book series, of course. Its concept is pretty simple, as well. You, the player, are helping out Tom, the macho hero guy of Avantia, defend the land from monsters.
It’s a straightforward tower defense game. You collect cards with different characters or beasts on them and can put them on towers to defend against bad guys (generally angry looking goblins of various weapons skills, in the first few levels), using both magic and physical attacks to beat them. You have a certain amount of mana with which to put characters in towers, so you can’t fill all your towers from the get-go. Killing goblins gets you more mana over time, so you can strategically stack your towers during the battle itself.
The towers line the roads, and at the end of roads are weird, floating diamonds. These are what you have to protect. I think these diamonds are portals, because when my defense got weak and the goblins got through, they just went through them and disappeared. I wasn’t paying attention to the tutorial that much (bad gamer reviewer, bad), but the general idea is that you don’t want goblins getting to those diamonds. Your score at the end of a level has a star rating, with three being a perfect score. Goblins getting past makes you lose stars.
The game provides lots of bonus stuff to suck you in, and you can replay levels to beef up your characters. You can even autoplay levels in which you previously scored all three stars in.
It’s a simple concept. One would wonder what the problem is.
Beast Quest has more than its fair share of problems.
First, it looks kind of awkward. This may be because I’m petty and like my games aesthetically pleasing, but Beast Quest Ultimate Heroes features two different kinds of art styles. These art styles don’t match each other, or frankly look great on their own. Anything that moves (i.e. monsters, heroes) are 3D, and the rest is 2D. The combination of 2D and 3D styles is hard to do, and Aminoca Brands doesn’t have it. Another personal problem is that the home screen features all your heroes hanging out in various random fields, training or pacing around a campfire. They all look very out of place and like they would rather be somewhere else.
Then, there are the glitches. The developers have fixed a lot of the bugs since its release, but the title shouldn’t have been released with them in the first place. I went back through the reviews on both Google Play and the App Store to see if other people were having these problems, and boy, were they. For those who don’t have the time to pore over other people’s salty remarks, there were originally tons of bugs. The intensity of monster waves jump from one to 100 real quick.
They fixed a lot of those problems. To be honest, the waves still get ridiculously hard after the first couple of levels, but they may still be working on that.
Games like these—most mobile games, really—generally thrive off of creating games that are addictive to play. You know, the stuff that keeps people playing until the realize their phones are at five percent. For the most part, mobile gamers understand, or are self-aware enough, to know this. Problems like glitches and frustratingly difficult levels are what deter the player from endlessly playing like that. Neither the player nor the game developers benefit from excessive problems.
Not the Only One
It’s funny that this isn’t the first time a Beast Quest mobile game has had bugs (see the first Beast Quest app). In fact, it’s not the first time a Beast Quest game for any style or platform has had bugs, or negative reviews for that matter.
The Steam version of the game had mostly negative reviews. Granted, a lot of the reviews I skimmed were about price, and Steam game pricing is weirdly expensive a lot of the time. Nintendo’s Switch version was also negative, and that review was interesting. Beast Quest also rated badly for PS4 in 2018 in a Pushsquare article.
Despite the platform, the Beast Quest bookseries remains difficult to convert to a solid video game. One could argue that this is because the books were intended for still-developing readers, or that it’s a huge money-grabbing series pumped out by several authors under the house name Adam Savage. We can never be sure. My running theory is that the Beast Quest series is cursed.
Despite all its flaws, Beast Quest Ultimate Heroes still has potential. It’s not a terrible game concept, it just needs cleaning up and bolstering. And really, don’t we all?
Kudos to Aminoca Brand for being on top of their reviews, though. They responded to just about all of the comments, both negative and positive, in both Google Play and the App Store. This is definitely a step in the right direction. I expect to see more bug fixes and modifications in the future.
Is It Hardcore?
This game needs to break its family curse of not-great video games. For now, it’s still in need of some repairs.