Pet Inn is both a shameless clone and a real money pit

Keeping furry friends happy and tending to the needs of a virtual village have become staples in gaming. Pet Inn has been climbing the charts of the App Store as of late, alongside familiar favorite Tap Pet Hotel, but is this “free” game truly man’s best friend?

Let’s not beat around the bush here. If you’ve already played Tap Pet Hotel, then you’ve pretty much already played Pet Inn as well. When it comes to shameless clones, this one sets a new precedent. The look, mechanics, and overall gameplay are almost a complete cut and paste of Tap Pet Hotel. As far as games based on micro transactions are concerned, Pet Inn is a complete and utter rip off (a term that simply cannot be overstated in this particular case).

For the uninitiated, Pet Inn tasks you with building up…well, your pet inn by adding rooms for your animals to sleep, areas for them to unwind and freshen up, as well as spruce up the joint with various décor. And of course, everything in Pet Inn costs money – or as the premium currency is known here, leaves.

Pet Inn Pet Inn

There are a variety of pets you can accommodate – everything from dogs and horses to bears and dragons. Adding rooms for them costs gold, or sometimes both gold and leaves. Like Tap Pet Hotel, the rooms in Pet Inn will produce gold after a set amount of time. The more you get done at your inn, the more experience you gain. When you level up, you gain a chunk of gold and a leaf or two.

Once you get your inn structured a bit, Pet Inn can be a novel way to pass the time. Unfortunately, too much time passes without being able to really do much – that is unless you spend real money to purchase large amount of gold and/or leaves. The publishers of the game have bundled (much like Tap Pet Hotel) various packages of coins and leaves, with the largest costing $99.

Did you get that? Are you willing to pay $99 to build more rooms for a virtual inn on your iPhone? Let’s hope you aren’t. The smallest amount of coins or leaves you can purchase is $0.99, and those purchases won’t get you very far. Even at just a buck, you’ve already invested an amount equal to the average iPhone app.

The thing is, you’re not going to get Pet Inn moving without investing lots of money into it, and there are far too many options to choose from when it comes to entertainment on the cheap. The amount of time it takes to earn gold from rooms in your inn is made tediously slow, and the developers have made certain no one’s going to get much enjoyment out of the app for free.

As for the game’s presentation, it’s cute, bright and approachable – everything Tap Pet Hotel already is. Tapping on the screen to collect money and love from your pets is easy and satisfying, but the decorations and overall variety are pretty barebones.

iPhone gamers will do well to steer clear of this abomination of micro transactions. On a functional level, Pet Inn works perfectly fine. As a source of entertainment on the go, it’s a money pit that doesn’t come anywhere close to offering a decent value for your coin.