App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Don’t let the name act as a deterrent; Tiny Monsters is about as “monstrous” (i.e. scary) as a week-old kitten. It’s proportionally adorable to said kitten, too. Whether or not someone finds it worth sinking time into depends largely on their ability to enjoy the standard Freemium model, however. I suppose it also depends on how much they love/hate cuteness.
After a mercifully brief tutorial phase, players are given full control over their odd little floating island exotic animal sanctuary. In practice this entails a lot of stuff free-to-play social gamers are familiar with, such as clearing debris to make room for new structures or building said structures, while waiting for a specified amount of Real Time to pass. A number of constantly updating quests help to keep players on-track, and it won’t be long before they’re evolving their newly hatched babies into teenagers and beyond.
If someone absolutely loves cute, then Tiny Monsters is the game for them. These critters might be comprised of cool design elements (such as a fire/rock scorpion or a “carnivorous” plant) but make no mistake, they’re all sporting happy little grins and the biggest pairs of doe eyes I’ve seen. Although there’s more than just the “Daaaaawwwww” to keep players interested. More quests, buildings, creatures, and more are unlocked fairly steadily. Most of this progression is tied directly to a player’s level, and doing pretty much anything will gain experience, even the simple act of feeding.
The problem with following a fairly standard free-to-play model is that it’s easy to fall victim to the same issues, and Tiny Monsters is no exception. After that initial learning phase where everything moves at a pretty speedy pace, things begin to slow down a lot. It’ll take several minutes to clear away the encroaching vegetation, an hour or more to finish building a new habitat, etc. Were there a bit more to do in-game while waiting for this stuff to finish it’d be less noticeable, obviously. Of course it is the kind of game that’s meant to be played in small doses. The only problem with this is the way some of these animals earn cash (which caps at varying amounts) too quickly. In order to optimize my earnings needed to expand faster, I have to constantly jump in and out of my game. But then there’s not much to do once I’m in there. It’s a constant cycle.
Tiny Monsters doesn’t really do anything new with the Freemium formula, but it does what it does well enough to scratch that particular itch. And I have to admit, the creature designs are pretty cool. As is the ability to grow them into more mature forms or combine them to create interesting hybrids. So long as someone knows what to expect, I imagine they’ll enjoy themselves.