It may not be Pokemon, but you can finally catch some monsters on your iPhone
Monster Galaxy on Facebook was a serviceable clone of Pokemon that brought the basic gameplay from Nintendo’s wildly successful franchise and added in the pre-requisite social features. It wasn’t perfect, but you could still catch ’em all. And it wasn’t portable, which took away from some of the appeal. After all, one of the best parts of Pokemon is that you can play on the go. That’s now changed with the release of the spin-off Monster Galaxy: The Zodiac Islands for iPhone, which provides a similar, less complex experience that you can put in your pocket.
As always, you play as a budding moga (the Monster Galaxy universe’s version of pokemon) trainer, who has the rare ability to both capture and train the quirky creatures. Unfortunately, your use of that power is frowned upon. An evil king wants only his own royal family to train mogas, forcing you to set out on an adventure across several islands as you attempt to defeat the king so that you can legally train mogas once and for all. It’s a goofy, at times nonsensical story, but it’s still fun and filled with plenty of goofy characters that are good for a few laughs.
Navigating the world is pretty straightforward. Each island is divided into several areas, and each area offers up a quest to complete, tasking you to either defeat or capture a particular moga. This means that there isn’t much in the way of exploration, but you do have the option to replay battles in order to earn a three star rating. Once you complete an island you move on to the next, and so on.
Your playtime is limited by energy, though. Each visit to a location saps a certain amount of energy, which refills over time or by drinking a hot, steamy cup of coffee. Your mogas will also lose energy in battle and can either drink some coffee or take a nap to recharge. Of course, coffee is a premium item that can be earned either by completing quests or spending some real-world dollars.
Unlike the original Monster Galaxy, which attempted to mimic Pokemon‘s particular style of turn-based combat, The Zodiac Islands simplifies things quite a bit. You have one main attack, and the strength is determined by a moving meter. Where you stop the meter will determine the strength of your attack. You can also use a special zodiac attack, the strength of which depends on how many times you can tap an icon in a brief period of time. It’s very simple and lacks much of the strategy of the Facebook game.
The other problem is that there appears to be some balancing issues with the different moga. Often you’ll come across a moga several experience levels below you, yet it will have much more HP and more powerful attacks. Capturing moga also feels a bit unfair, as the rare ones pretty much require the premium moga catching balls.
For Pokemon fans, Monster Galaxy: The Zodiac Islands is an enjoyable take on the monster-catching formula, and a decent alternative that you can play on your phone. While there are plenty of cute mogas to collect and a number of islands to explore, the simplified combat and linear progression mean that it’s a game that doesn’t offer as much depth as Pokemon. But, at the same time, it provides a rich and colorful world to explore and plenty of moga to collect, which is all any budding monster trainer can really ask for.