App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Remember Auto Chess? I wouldn't fault you for completely forgetting about it. The modified game variant of Dota 2, a game that has its own origins as a modified game mode, exploded in popularity back in 2019, spawning entirely too many similar games. I'm sure plenty of people are still out there playing Auto Chess: Origin, Teamfight Tactics, etc. but these games largely disappeared from the cultural spotlight, most likely in part because most matches of these games are long and complicated.
If you are like me and wrote off the genre for reasons like these, Super Auto Pets might grab and hold your attention. This little auto-chess battler is casual, goofy, and easy to play one turn at a time, though it retains a lot of the complexity that makes auto-chess games so satisfying to play.
Pet shop battles
Super Auto Pets is a game where players try to make their own team of battling animals that can take down opposing teams. These animals can be comprised of anything from mosquitoes and ants to whales and elephants. The only catch is that you are limited in what you can add to your team by a store with a limited selection. You can "refresh" the store to get new animals to buy, but doing so costs the same coins you use to buy animals.
This makes for a game where you have to be careful with your money and try to analyze what is best to spend your money on in any given moment: Is that new animal worth it, or might it be better to power up an existing unit on your team by buying food? Your choices very much determine how well you do in your next fight, and may allow you to move on to continue building up that team or face defeat and start all over again.
The thing that makes team-building in Super Auto Pets so compelling is that each animal has its own abilities, many of which can combine with the abilities of others. Building a good team involves seeing what tools you already have and leveraging them into more power, ideally while saving money. This is to say that you could just spend as much money as possible acquiring the strongest individual animals, but doing so usually does not go as far as tactically taking advantage of synergies to create a team that actually works together.
As an example, you might buy a horse for your team and see that horses give attack boosts to new animals when they appear. As a result you might want to look out for sheep units, as those spawn smaller, weaker rams when they die so that you can deepen your bench as well as make them stronger in the heat of battle. Many combinations like this exist in Super Auto Pets, and its dependent on your own decision-making (and some luck) to find winning combinations.
Super Auto Pets has two game modes. The seemingly default mode is called Arena and it lets you build your animal team at your leisure before randomly matching with another player to face off. The goal in this mode is to simply win as many matches as possible without losing so many hearts you have to start over again. The other is a much more traditional auto-chess mode where you enter a pool of players and cycle through real-time rounds with all of them until there's one player who has avoided losses for long enough to come out on top.
All of the action in Super Auto Pets is available for free and there are no ads or currency systems that make it feel like a grindfest. That said, there are content packs available for sale, one of which is a $ 4.99 unlock of new animals to add to the mix. I'm not necessarily a fan of multiplayer games selling access to additional mechanics and depth to players, but Super Auto Pets is kind of a fun crapshoot of a multiplayer game anyway, so it's only mildly annoying that there are other players out there having a different experience than you. Thankfully, Super Auto Pets has a setting that lets you avoid matching with players who have paid for this pack so you don't have to get defeated by animals you don't even know how to use or counter.
The bottom line
Super Auto Pets is a fun, silly, and challenging multiplayer game that can be rewarding. That being said its primary mode is based around a randomness that makes it best enjoyed casually. So long as you don't come to this game expecting a super deep auto-chess experience, you'll more than likely have a pretty good time.