The way the cookie crumbles
When a young boy or girl makes friends with a community of emotive gingerbread people, then you don’t need me to tell you that this is a bond that lasts for life right there. So when said gingerbread friends get kidnapped and imprisoned by some evil monsters, you would naturally do anything to free your delicious pals, right? Even if it means matching hundreds of those quirky little monsters in an ever-changing castle setting. And so sets the stage for Monster Busters, a new match-3 puzzler from PurpleKiwii.
In the game, players take control of a young hero with no mouth as they move up an enormous tower, making matches with colorful monsters, and saving legions of imprisoned gingerbread friends in the process. While Monster Busters might not bring that many new ideas to the genre as a whole, what it does have is a whole lot of heart, and a lighthearted design that makes playing through its some-odd 500 puzzles just downright fun.
It won’t take you long to get accustomed to the world of Monster Busters, as the game’s basic match-3 foundation is likely something that you’ve already played before. Each of the six main monster types on the game board has their own elemental matching effect, although these don’t seem to have any influence over the actual gameplay: for instance, matching the blue monsters will sometime result in a watery splashing effect across the area. And in true Candy Crush Saga fashion, you’ll have a number of different power-ups to use at your disposal, like increased moves or toy hammers that let you smash any given monster on the game board. In addition, making matches in clusters of four and above will result in your typical vertical and horizontal bomb bonuses, etc.
The different level types are also pretty much par for the course for what you would expect from the new age of Candy Crush-style match-3 games. You’ll need to clear a handful of designated spaces that have been covered in ice. You’ll match a set number of specific monster types before the timer or your move limit runs out. And of course, you’ll make matches to drop helpless gingerbread friends to the bottom of the game board, among a few other examples. But perhaps the coolest level type you’ll come across in Monster Busters is the occasional boss fight, which places a giant green monster smack-dab in the middle of the game board and tasks you with chipping away at his health bar by making adjacent matches.
All of the levels themselves are housed throughout a massive tower which your hero will constantly be moving up the more puzzles you complete. Each floor of the tower has a handful of levels for you to master before a ladder is placed on the ground, giving you access to the next floor above and its accompanying levels. The map also has a bit of fun interactivity to it as well, in the form of little monsters from the game board finding their way onto the floors, and having your hero walk over and popping them when commanded by your mouse click. At one point I even clicked on a snowman, just to have him throw a snowball at my hero and quickly turn him into ice!
And while the tower itself is not exactly endless, it might as well be, as Monster Busters currently boasts a massive 500 levels and counting from beginning to end: a surely impressive feat for any game, new release or not. And even though I obviously didn’t have time to play through every single one of them before I had to write this review, I don’t think I actually would have minded; although 500 levels of anything might start feeling a little bit repetitive before long.
Playing through the game is made all the more fun by the somewhat relaxed difficulty setting, at least for the initial dozens of levels I finished, which makes it a breeze to move through puzzles and achieve three stars without depleting your handful of lives. It’s a good thing the game is easy, too, because its in-app purchases might have been a little tough to stomach otherwise: especially when you’re only ever allowed to purchase “unlimited lives” for a set number of days before they revert back to normal.
But honestly, you won’t really run into those kinds of things all too much in Monster Busters, and for those who are looking for a more brisk match-3 experience, then there are always the special challenge levels to dive into: which are like warped versions of the regular levels, only with tighter completion constraints. Completing these challenge levels will reward you with some extra coins for buying new power-ups and a shiny crown that appears over your little hero’s head. In fact, the only things that really annoyed me about the game were the one-tone soundtrack that plays on a continuous loop, and the constant prodding to share your accomplishments with others over Facebook (which I guess should almost be expected, given that it’s a Facebook game itself).
Needless to say, there’s a ton of gameplay here to keep you rescuing your little gingerbread pals for quite some time to come: and you’ll actually have a whole lot of fun doing it every step of the way. What Monster Busters lacks in new ideas, it makes up for in a loveable style and breezy match-3 gameplay that has you matching bug-eyed monsters and moving up a tower in quite the addictive fashion. So the next time you go off making BFF friendship bracelets with a gingerbread cookie, just make sure you keep them safe and tasty!