Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Pudding Monsters for iPhone and iPad

You probably don't need to learn from me about Pudding Monsters, a top quality game from Zeptolab, the makers of the classic Cut the Rope.

The basic idea at the core of this puzzle game has been used before. You make the pudding monsters slide on the floor; once they start moving, they won't stop until they hit something. If they don't hit anything and leave the screen, you lose and have to start again.
Even if the basic idea isn't new, I don't recall it having been used this way. When two monsters touch, they join to form a larger monster. The level is solved when all monsters are merged.
There is a lot of variety in the puzzles, because all kinds of different elements are introduced throughout the game: monsters that leave a sticky trail, sleeping monsters that cannot move until another monster joins with them, ice blocks that break after being hit, cloning machines, arrows, and so on.

Additionally, there's the customary three star rating system; stars are earned by finishing the level with monsters sitting on top of the stars.
The levels don't have a single solution, and after solving all levels for the first time, the game encourages you to play them again and earn 0, 1, 2 and 3 stars; when you do that, you earn a crown.

There are also funny Game Center achievements like "form a monster shaped like a hot dog".

Curiously, I've seen this game criticised both because it's "only" a logic game (by people that expected another action game like Cut the Rope) and because it is too easy as a logic game (by people that expected some hard core logic puzzle).

I don't think those criticisms are fair. Clearly, the first thing that strikes while playing the game is the incredible quality of the presentation: the animations are beautiful and full of humour, and the sound is great too. However the puzzles, while not terribly hard, can be challenging, especially if you want to earn all crowns. I've had many a-ha! moments when an elusive alternative solution finally clicked. Frankly, I don't think we could expect anything more than this from a game that is designed to sell millions of copies.

Every time I play, I'm amazed by the beauty of the level select screen. As you flick through the pages, the image in the background zooms out, sort of like in Powers of Ten™, starting from a cup of tea, through the roof of the house, to show the whole neighborhood (for now; it's easy to guess that we'll keep zooming out with future updates).

An update was released just today, adding 25 more levels, bringing the total to precisely 100. Even that way, and even playing each level multiple times to get the crown, it still feels a bit short, and you're left begging for more. But I think the main reason for this is that the game is so utterly enjoyable that you'd want to keep playing. Hopefully Zeptolab will continue to release updates in the future, like they did with Cut the Rope.

What do you think, is this game worthy of being labelled nontrivial?


Logical Reasoning★★★★☆
User Interface★★★★★
Loading Time★★★☆☆
Saves Partial Progress
Status Bar

©2013 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Salmoria and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.