Developer: Monster Robot Studios
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 0.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics/Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Despite the general gamer love for the Legend of Zelda franchise, it’s fairly easy to understand why there might not be a glut of games paying homage to it in the iOS market: it’s a fairly complex system whose controls would make many balk. Not so for Monster Robot Studios, who with Mazes & Monsters even wink at the audience when giving the option to name its hero, who starts off with the default Lunk.

While the game certainly serves for nostalgia purposes, its level design and puzzles are a bit simpler than has come to be expected from the Zelda franchise. Which actually works, considering the hardware on which it finds itself. Instead of being sprawling affairs, dungeons are split into small stages, where each stage doesn’t take very long, and thereby allows for easy stopping points for the pick up and go gamer. Given that the audience might also be a larger mix of people, who might not be as accustomed to the tropes in the original titles, it also has a much more forgiving, and shorter, introduction into the game itself before starting off proper.

Unfortunately, there are a few things that stop this from being a fully great experience. The controls, an on-screen joystick and two buttons, leave a bit to be desired, even given the option to move them around on screen. The responsiveness often seems to vacillate in odd ways that left me facing away from enemies when I was moving toward them or other such weird things. It’s workable, but requires foreknowledge of getting into such. There are many odd little quirks, though none really ruining the experience overall. It’s just small, minor things that keep adding up to make the otherwise somewhat cute and ambitious game to be less than its whole.

For a lo-fi indie production of examining Legend of Zelda, Mazes & Monsters goes quite far. It tweaks the formula, adds a few new weapons (so that the default does not have to be sword), and yet keeps true to many of the mini-games and general sense of progression. For anyone looking to either see what such an experience is like, or wanting a bit of nostalgia on the go, this might just be a decent purchase, with the caveat that it is not wholly polished.

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