Nickelodeon starts a little monkey business on iOS
Amidst the glut of Angry Birds wannabes, Monkey Quest: Thunderbow has hit the App Store backed by the power of Nickelodeon. Based on the publisher’s free online adventure, Monkey Quest: Thunderbow sprinkles in a few new ingredients to a now exhausted physics formula.
Thunderbow is another well presented physics puzzler, complete with cutesy cutscenes and an easy-to-navigate menu system. The game is split into three main areas (with an additional two listed as “coming soon”), each comprised of 10 separate levels. There are three bananas scattered throughout each level, and you’ll need to collect enough bananas if you want to unlock the game’s later worlds.
Rather than flinging birds at cages, you control the main character’s bow, pulling back on the touch screen with your finger to aim and then lifting your finger to let loose your projectiles. Standard weaponry consists of carrot arrows that explode on contact, a mosquito projectile that can be split into four separate mosquitoes by tapping on the touch screen, and a pineapple that explodes into fragments midair. There’s some neat stuff here that plays well into the level design.
Unfortunately, actual control of Thunderbow is quite frustrating. His placement in each level is always to the far left of the screen, which rarely affords you enough room to aim effectively. Arrows will constantly fly away on accident, and aiming Thunderbow’s bow is unwieldy at best. Additionally, the camera is always tightly cropped at the beginning of a level, forcing you to make unnecessary adjustments before ever taking a single shot.
In spite of these issues, Thunderbow has some clever mechanics and a few rewarding moments. When you’re not struggling with the controls or camera, the game occasionally manages to satisfy. A small selection of extra challenges round out the package nicely, and there’s a handful of novel options for folks dabbling in the Monkey Quest online adventure.
When it comes to presentation, Monkey Quest: Thunderbow is an attractive little mobile bundle. The visuals are cute and polished, and the music and sound effects add a nice bit of spice to what would otherwise be a rather sedate experience. The framerate takes a few serious dips here and there, however, and the raunchy heavy metal theme tends to grate after just a short while.
In spite of its current price tag, Monkey Quest: Thunderbow is difficult to recommend. There’s nothing wrong with “more of the same” so long as it’s fun. Thunderbow adds some neat gameplay tidbits to the Angry Birds formula, but the basic mechanics are much too frustrating to contend with. The physics feel dull and droopy, and the level design does little to break new ground. Monkey Quest: Thunderbow makes a decent first impression, but its true value is only skin deep.