Epic Astro Story ($3.99) by Kairosoft Co.,Ltd is the newest title from Kairosoft, a Japanese company known for making some of the best iPhone simulation games, including Game Dev Story and Mega Mall Story.
This time, the game is a planetary development simulation, and your goal is to develop a planet with a thriving economy, while expanding your territory and luring tourists to your planet’s attractions.
Most Kairosoft games focus entirely on building and manufacturing goods, but this game has a bit more depth, which makes it one of the best titles to be released to date.
In addition to building houses, finding new residents, constructing factories, and producing goods, you will also develop a scouting and fighting team, which will explore unknown regions of your planet and visit neighboring planets.
Your away team will be able to be sent on exploration missions to undiscovered areas on the planet, where they will find cash, new artifacts, research points, and battle with various enemies in order to claim territory.
To succeed in battle, your fighters will need to be equipped with weapons and armor, and as in most Kairosoft games, you develop this technology using research points, which are earned from missions and from tourists visiting the planet.
You will also need to continually raise the level of your team (with cash) in order to deal with increasingly difficult monsters. As your team levels up, sending them on missions will get more expensive, so you need to make sure you have a thriving infrastructure as well.
This is done by constructing fields and factories for your residents to work in, as well as building hotels and other tourist attractions to generate plenty of income. My major complaint with Epic Astro Story is that there’s no way to tell how well your factories and attractions are doing and whether you need more, except for when the Astro Times newspaper is released, which gives a few hints, but that only happens once a year.
For example, I had no way to tell that I needed more space ports for aliens to visit, and I’m still unsure whether I need more hotels, since there’s no capacity given. Kairosoft games are always a bit light on the instructions, so trial and error is the only way to proceed.
Your factories are able to produce several goods, such as foods and different types of goods like mountain bikes, but they will need raw materials from farms and mines in order to produce items. You must have plenty of workers in order to keep everything running, which means sending your team to explore planets and find new residents, and this can be done after the rocket ship is discovered.
You’ll also need to help neighboring planets fight off pirates, which builds good will and opens up relations, attracting more tourists. On missions, your team will often find blueprints for new goods, which is handy for keeping production going at a good rate. Blueprints can be developed into plans for new products with research points.
The game starts at year one and ends at year 16, so each play through takes quite a bit of time. When you reach the end, you can restart, keeping one of your residents for the next game. There are no achievements to earn (I hope they get added at some point), but your high score is recorded so you can work on topping it during the next play through.
While I love Kairosoft games, some of them did get repetitive because of their similarities, but this one feels fresh and original, which is partly because there hasn’t been a new Kairosoft release for several months. As always, there are minor control issues when placing pathways and buildings just because of the logistics of a city simulation game on the iPhone’s small screen, but this is easily overlooked thanks to the immersive and engaging gameplay.
I’m entirely addicted - I started last night and I’ve barely put my iPhone down since then. Fans of Kairosoft games or simulations will absolutely want to pick up Epic Astro Story, for its typical simulation gameplay and for the RPG style exploration and battles. This is one Kairosoft title that’s absolutely worth the $3.99.