Cute games are ten a penny on the App Store, and Monster Capture is just one such game. The problem with all the cute, stylised games is they all tend to blur into one after a while, so lets hope that Monster Capture manages to make itself stand out from the pack.
In truth, Monster Capture for iPhone does enough to make itself a little more memorable than most in two ways. First of all it is actually very playable and addictive in it’s own right, and secondly it is an extrememly punishing game, despite the cutesy looks.
The game sets you with the task of rounding up a bunch of friendly monsters. To do this you must encircle groups of three or more like coloured beasts, at which point they will either combine and evolve into one monster, but at the next level, or disappear if one of the monsters has already evolved to the highest level. You only score for groups that include level 3 monsters, so you have to evolve carefully, not to mention quickly, as there is a timer that depletes very quickly.
Every time you encircle a group correctly, the timer is increased by a tiny amount, so the race is on to keep the timer at bay and fulfill the mission requirements for each stage. The monsters all move around quite a bit, and it can be difficult to grab a group all together, especially when different colours intermingle. The line you draw with your finger must not touch any monsters or the move will be cancelled. At least that is what I think happens, as sometimes it seems to let you touch your own monsters slightly yet at other times, you are punished for it. This inconsistency can lead to frustration.
There are bonus stages, where the monsters all run to one side, kind of like Plants Vs Zombies, and capturing groups here is a nightmare, as they are moving very quickly and fill the screen. You have to place your loops in their path, ready for them and it is really tricky to pass theses stages. Thankfully, they only appear rarely.
There are a lot of stages here, and even some bosses to battle, so this game will definitely keep you going for quite some time, and there is OpenFient integration to extend it’s life, as well as a tutorial and a Free Mode, where you can capture monsters without a time limit.
There are a few powerups that appear throughout the game, such as time extensions, sleep potions and a handy power that instantly evolves some of the monsters onscreen. Enemies also make an appearance here, and must be dealt with quickly to avoid losing a lot of your monsters.
The graphics are supercute and have a Pokemon feel to them, and the sound is bouncy yet forgettable. The overall level of presentation is very good, and even the menus have a decent sense of style to them. The only real problem with the game, aside from the inconsistencies that I mentioned earlier, is that the time limits are genuinely too tough. You have to have a good run of luck with the way the monsters spawn to complete many of the main levels, as you really do not get enough time. The developer is aware of this, and offers various upgrades that are obtainable through IAP’s such as an extended time bar and more time rewards for capturing monsters. One of the cheaper upgrades is one that extends the time bar by 50%, and I really think that the developer should consider making that timer 50% longer as standard, as it’s shortness does spoil the game somewhat.
Despite this, Monster Capture remains a very addictive game that will probably make you come back time and again. The fast paced, yet tactical gameplay is accompanied by some really well drawn characters that help to keep bringing you back to the game.
Overall, Monster Capture does come recommended, but with a warning that it is a lot tougher than it looks. This monster has bite.