Developer: SleepNinja Games
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★
Playtime Rating: ★★★★★
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

I wouldn’t be pleased if monsters actually ate my birthday cake. How dare they snarf up the sugary confection I was poised to chow down on myself?! It’s a sentiment no doubt shared with the developers at Sleeping Ninja, who have crafted a satisfying twist on The Legend of Zelda-like puzzle-solving. Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a sweet treat for mobile gamers that serves up an excellent mix of puzzles, bright and colorful characters, and engaging content that rivals triple-A blockbusters in terms of unadulterated fun.

monster1When you get started you’ll find yourself swapping out characters in order to complete level-specific puzzles. Each level has characters with differently-assigned abilities, and each monster has its own loadout. In order to conquer the various obstacles scattered throughout each area, you’ll have to become acquainted with the monsters’ abilities while avoiding or eliminating enemies completely.

There are three stars to earn per level, and one solution that will net you all three according to how you perform. Each stage pits you against spikes, pressure-sensitive buttons, additional traps, and other hazards that keep young protagonist Niko from getting at his birthday cake. In order to obtain the confection you have to collect all of the cake slices within each level. Luckily, there are some benevolent monsters out looking to help you.

Poot has toxic gas that can make plants shrivel up and die, Groggnar can headbutt tree trunks to clear them out of the way, and Biff can freeze water. You don’t have to use all of the monsters at once, though, making the learning curve much less steep than it could be. You also tend to use each monster an equal amount, so you don’t have time to get too complacent with one over the other. It forces you to keep thinking on your feet, and that’s always the mark of a good puzzler.

monster2There’s a certain playfulness to the in-game world and its myriad monster friends that takes you back to the good old days of retro goodness. The good-natured joking and ribbing is refreshing, and as the game is wont to make fun of itself and poke fun at genre convention, you’ll find yourself laughing along as well.

With a large variety of levels and puzzles to keep you coming back for more, as well as the lack of staleness that results from forcing players to use the same characters over and over, Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a treat for on-the-go play no matter what type of genre you generally prefer. It’s humorous, packed with things to do, and beckoning you to jump into its weird and colorful world. If you pick up only one puzzler for your mobile device, make it this one.

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