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Monster Dash (iPhone)

Review by Ben Briggs, August 19, 2010

iPhone integration (About)
  • Save state: Yes
  • iPod music: Yes
  • Status bar: No

We recently wrote a brief article on Monster Dash which we were fairly excited about, considering that it has come from the hands of a strong studio that has produced some really good games. Now the game has been released and it’s hard not to compare it to Canabalt, a game that has done extremely well. But Monster Dash seems to lack some of the atmosphere of its predecessor; not that it isn’t a solid game but that it could use a little more gameplay variety to push it over the top.

Basically, you have to navigate through a series of raised platforms; some short, some tall, some wide but all the same style; the only different type of building is one that has a ramp or some other construct in the middle that leads down towards a lower level, but otherwise they are all the same. Sometimes there are small spike traps that you must jump over but the main difference from Canabalt is that you have a pump-action shotgun that is used to blow away the zombies, mummies, vampires and demons that await you on each level.

In addition, breaking open the wooden crates that randomly appear reveal several stronger weapons; a sub-machine gun, a machine gun jet-pack, a wildly over-powered taser-like weapon called ‘Mr Zappy’ and a pistol that can kill all of the enemies in its path (‘The Pacifier’). Extra hearts are also dotted about, although some can appear in ridiculous places that look impossible to have gotten to once they’ve annoyingly passed you by.

This is because unlike Canabalt, the game doesn’t have an adaptive difficulty level generator; it simply places platforms at fixed distances which can start to get tough to navigate especially when the game is running at a faster speed. With no way to slow yourself down manually the game just keeps increasing the pace gradually until you have no way to fight it.

You get warped between four destinations every 1,000m; not only does this change the scenery and the monster type but also the music. Each scene gets its own slightly modified version of the same musical theme to better fit the environment, but nothing else changes. The monsters all behave the same whichever area that you’re in; this means that Monster Dash can get repetitive fairly quickly.

Happily the game isn’t without its moments; the comprehensive statistic tracking and plentiful OpenFeint achievements should be enough for those of you looking to further your rank, each level looks terrific with richly coloured graphics and neat parallax scrolling, and you can even tap to incinerate any monster that dares to venture onto the main menu screen.

We expect Halfbrick are working on new updates that will make the game even better, as they did for Fruit Ninja but we can’t review what isn’t in the game! Suffice to say that it’s a good game that’s just not quite there yet; for 59p your money could be better spent on the aforementioned Fruit Ninja.

Grade: C, Good

A solid, if repetitive game that could use a little more variety and slight gameplay tweaks to push it over the top.

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