Storm8 really established itself in the free iPhone game arena with its text based iPhone MMO RPGs along with companies like The Godfather and PlayMesh. In this realm they dominated quickly with titles like Racing Live and Kingdoms Live early on and because of the initial rush toward those games the free Honor Points packages they continue to release continue to be met with a marked amount of popularity. This is not to say that Storm8 has not been slipping recently, especially when compared with popular releases like Race or Die from The Godfather and the entire third generation from PlayMesh beginning with iMafia III. The fact here is both that Storm8 had not provided a visual overhaul yet for the design of their text based iPhone MMO RPGs and had not released a competitive new title in quite a while. With their recent release of Pets Live they are attempting to ride into the model set up by Epic Pet Wars where the classic format of the text based iPhone MMO RPG is spiced up with the addition of features from established pet simulators. Though this kind of copycat behavior is not the best we can hope for, it is the landmark of the iTunes’ App Store and a good transfer that adds to the original formula is the best we can ask for. Pets Live does this in a way that brings some new depth to both gameplay and design and really does improve on the bare bones design they have based their turbulent success on.
You start out in Pets Live by selecting a proper monster easily inspired by our Pokemon past. Each one represents an essential element, so try to feel out your own natural magic. This will be followed by a note from the pet trainer and you are then taken right into the regular gameplay. You are ushered directly into the normal “missions” area where you are given a single option. The normal framework for text based iPhone MMO RPGs is to have a series of open options right from the start so you can choose exactly how you want to move forward.
Starting at this point it is clear that Pets Live has a little more of a linear approach. After you complete the first available mission you will be given the regular inputs that are available in Pets Live. This means an approximate return to the Storm8 style guide, but this time around there is so much more color and character that it will look unrecognizable to the bare bone structure players are used to.
All the gaming elements remain similar to those in other Storm8 text based iPhone MMO RPGs. You perform Quests to get money and experience, you can battle other Pets Live players for the same, and you can recruit other players to join your team using Pets Live Team Codes. The Pets Live Team Code system is similar to all other friend code system and allows players to add each other in a streamlined fashion. Expect to post your Pets Live Team Codes around online, and there are already websites and message boards dedicated to sharing your Pets Live Team Codes. With these Team Codes you will then create a large Pets Live team that you will need for Quests and Battles. The gameplay model is revised in that you are forced to level up to a certain point before being able to engage in each aspect. This is true of all Storm8 titles, but even more specific in Pets Live. For example, you are forced to get to level six before having access to the Pets Live Team Codes system.
Normally you would begin adding other players with your Pets Live Team Codes right away, but here you are forced to reach a reasonably high level ahead of time. This does limit the effectiveness of conventional strategies used in text based iPhone MMO RPGs, and this may be a good way to get out of the constant loop that these titles have become.
With Pets Live Storm8 also continues their cheat point system with the Pets Live Master Points. You are allowed to purchase Pets Live Master Points from the iTunes’ App Store that are then used for different elements within the game. You can use these Pets Live Master Points for things refilling different gauges, gold, or adding team members. Like always these Pets Live Master Points are often expensive an unnecessary, especially since there will be free Master Points packages offered for promotional purposes in the future. You will even start off with ten free Master Points in your new Pets Live account.
Pets Live is a major step forward for Storm8 in general, but it is still not hitting the high bar set by Epic Pet Wars and Epic Soldier Wars. Expect more pets to be made available soon, along with more free Master Points to make sure that you keep playing. Pets Live ends up as one of the better free text based iPhone MMO RPGs made available recently, even though it doesn’t knock down those on the top of the pyramid.
Four out of five stars.