Developer: Little Box Apps
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4s

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

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

photo 4 (45)Monsters Invade: Oz is a cartoony role-playing game that takes clear cues from the massively popular Pokémon game franchise. In this game, monsters have invaded the land of Oz, and it is up to the protagonist to follow the yellow brick road while completing quests and catching these monsters.

In Monsters, players get sucked into the world of Oz through a magical book, along with a collection of monster stuffed animals that spring to life within Oz. Once this happens, players begin wandering the very brightly colored, inky land completing quests and fighting monsters to progress to the next section of the yellow brick road.

To traverse the environment, players simply touch on the screen where they would like to move. There is not really a whole lot to do in this view of the overworld besides move, but some quests require players to venture off the main path in order to keep advancing in the game, which does help to vary up the experience. Also, while moving around the map, players can expect–in true Pokémon fashion–random battles.

In battle, players tap the screen to initiate an attack sequence that demands players to stop a series of onscreen meters in precise locations to maximize their damage output. After an attack lands, monsters spout XP that players have to tap on to collect. From here, the enemy attacks and the process repeats itself until there is a winner. Although it is nice to have a battle system that is more involved than just choosing an attack, there is always just one attack to choose from, which turns battles into tedious timing-based affairs with very little strategy involved.

photo 3 (47)Beyond the problematic battle system, Monsters seems to have simply taken the Pokémon collection mechanic and made almost every part of it less interesting than its source material. The tradeoffs being made to make this game into a free-to-play revenue stream take away what makes Pokémon the fun game that it is. Players have to spend gold (which is purchased with real money or earned very slowly in game) to do practically anything beyond what was previously mentioned. Want to switch between monsters in battle? How about get ink to heal your monsters? Maybe you might just want to revive the one that was just defeated? Expect to pay up.

On its face, Monsters is a cool looking game with a great underlying concept. Pokémon is a series that was tailored to mobile gaming platforms initially, and it only makes sense to bring a similar experience over to iOS. However, the developers of this game ended up oversimplifying the formula for monster collecting and added a few pay walls, and these two features ultimately make Monsters a pretty lackluster experience.

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