Game Review: Monsters Love Gum
Release: September 22, 2010
Genre: Board game
Available Platforms: iPad
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Website: SortaPrecision Official Website
We all played Hungry Hungry Hippos at one time or another during our childhood. I personally have fond memories of pounding those little plastic levers like a maniac during sleepovers at friends’ houses. Monsters Love Gum is here to try and rekindle that childlike glee. Difference here is that you control a monster and are trying to eat gumballs (though, in retrospect, I have no idea what those Hippos were trying to eat anyway).
The 2D art style and big iPad screen really suit the board game atmosphere the developers created here. Basically there are two modes: Battle and Hoarder. Each of these can be divided into one single sudden death round, best of three, or best of seven. With up to four people (local only, each person sitting on a side of the iPad) and 10, 20, or 30 gumballs as goals to achieve. The monsters each have different attributes: from the one eyed Bob with a short reach but quick speed to the pink pustule-ridden Larry who has the longest reach of the bunch but is really slow. My favorite was Marty the alien, who is one of the three more balanced monsters.
From here both modes (Battle and Hoarder) play exactly alike. Your monster sits at the bottom of the board, you tap him to scoop up gumballs, and the first person to reach the goal (10, 20 or 30) is the winner. You can also acquire power-ups (like lightning, bombs, hammers that save you from being hit, a switch that tilts the gumballs to your monster, and a tornado that wipes the field clean) by picking up pink gumballs. However, the modes themselves differ wildly and one is definitely more enjoyable chaotic than the other.
The mode I love, and what is to me the perfect example of an iPad game, is Battle. Here everyone is collecting blue gumballs, all items are in play so you can mow down enemies if you pick up the necessary pink gumballs, but your primary goal is reaching the gumball limit set for the round. It’s fast and frantic and I had a blast all by myself tapping away at my monster, hording pink gumballs to use hammers whenever some stupid computer would throw bombs at me. Speaking of, the AI can be pretty devious at times, bombarding you with lightning balls and bombs, but I welcomed the challenge. I also love the idea of turning the iPad into a board game; seating everyone in their corners like you would do with a real one. I hope more games copy this, because it’s the exact type of thing I want to see on iPad. I’m never gonna be just walking around and need a quick Peggle fix like with my iPhone. Here I want a game that will keep my interest for longer, and preferably that I can play with my friends.
Then there is Hoarder mode. The most positive thing I can say here is that it is boring (the worst would be that its practically impossible to win and becomes really arduous quite early on). Throwing out the hyper action from Battle mode, here everyone is tasked to pick up only specific colored gumballs. So instead of mashing your monster only blindly being aware of what you pick up, you have to really time your presses right (especially if you’re using a slow moving or short reaching monster). That would be okay, but there are some just really annoying design choices that hinder it tremendously. The most infuriating is the rule that for every incorrect gumball color you swallow, you subsequently lose one of your own that you’ve worked so hard in attaining; so you can go from winning to losing in a flash. Then the majority of your time will be spent with your finger hovering over the screen waiting patiently for that blue ball to mosey on over to your monster, most commonly being eating by someone else first “accidentally” or becoming swept away by a tornado. The AI has beaten me literally every time here, and playing with your friends would most likely just turn into a game of luck.
Mitchel’s final say:
Despite Hoarder mode, Monsters Love Gum is still great fun, especially if you’ll be playing it with other people. It perfectly evokes the sense of a board game on the iPad. It could use some more game modes (hopefully in an update?) but the overall package, for just three bucks, is pretty easy to accept. If you’re looking for something to just chill and play alone or with some friends, (and considering the amount of terrible apps in the app store) you could definitely do worse than Monsters Love Gum.