Monster Feed Review (iPad)

Game Review: Monster Feed
Release: September 28 2010
Genre: Tower Defense
Developer: Day Go By Entertainment
Available Platforms: iPad
Players: 1
MSRP: $1.99 (On Sale)
ESRB Rating: 9+
Website: Monster Feed Website

In a genre as overflowing with entries as tower defense, Monster Feed slightly manages to eke out a reason for existence. Just not quite enough. You’re tasked with something any tower defense fan will understand immediately: an innocent group of deer stand on the right side of the screen, monsters are coming from the left, your defenses are the animals only chance of safety.

The levels start off small enough, taking up the real estate of the iPad screen only.  You have the choice between five different towers which are the various collection of your usual missile launchers, chain guns, shotguns, bow and arrows and slow down ice.  You can chose from two different game modes (standard and spell overload), two different heroes to play as (Lilith and Taz), two different world types (woodland and swamp), and seventeen levels between the two worlds.  The developer has even already promised new heroes, levels and monsters in future updates.  The later levels require you to scroll the screen left and right, portions of the environment scrolling off the side of the screen.  Surprisingly these are easier than the single screen levels, given that you have more real estate to build towers and time to kill the monsters.

Yeah, you'll giggle at the unicycling monsters at first. Then scramble to save your deer upon realizing how fast the buggers can go.

After you pick your settings and hero (each with three special spells to cast) you enter the actual game.  The path the monsters walk is marked out, and you can build towers anywhere else surrounding the road.  With a simple tap of the square you want you can start constructing defenses.  The usual caveats apply, like upgrading and selling towers, and picking up money from dead enemies.  The cool thing is the spells.  With the mana bar at the bottom left of the screen (and using Lilith) you can shoot fireballs, guide balls of ice and send death spheres onto the battlefield. Taz’s spells are practically the same: his ice is a throwing trident, his death sphere is a floating bunny head (don’t ask), and his flame ball is a series of half moon shaped blades.

Don't forget to pick up coins after slaughtering monsters. You WILL need them later.

These spells are really responsive and just fun to cast. Simply tapping to shoot a flaming orb and igniting a group of marching cretins, or dragging to perfectly aim a bowling strike of ice that can slow down an entire row of the devils if aimed right is oddly satisfying.  These mechanics really help elevate it from the other tower defense games on the market.  And they aren’t just side thoughts, they are wholly necessary.  The game isn’t very forthcoming in the money department, so if you’re like me you’ll constantly find yourself with little defenses right in front of your precious deer.  So mashing the spell icons to prevent the deer from becoming items on the monsters’ dinner menu was a common occurrence in my sessions.  These spells are lifesavers all the time, and the mana bar regenerates regularly and you can even pick up jars of the stuff to speed it up.

There is also a leveling up system associated with the spells, but I honestly never understood how I was even leveling up (I assumed killing monsters, but it never tells you), and didn’t find huge differences in damage between each level.  And then the rest of the game just feels too… normal.  The set paths, the small amount of towers, having to shoot out debris to be able to build new towers – we’ve seen this all over and over before.  Perhaps it’s my being jaded post Plants vs Zombies, but I feel like I need a little more from a tower defense game than just five towers.  And I never felt the need to strategize like I do in other games in the genre, I mostly hurriedly slapped down towers whenever I had sufficient funds and hoped I didn’t just make an idiotic move.  I never even found myself toying around with the other, more expensive towers.  I’d plant a bunch of low level gunners and shotguns early on and go with it til the end.  And when I would find I had enough to maybe put that missile silo up I’d been eyeing, I had a whole two waves left.  That’s my overlong and convoluted way of saying that the monsters do not drop near enough money for the fun and experimenting, that in turn causes the addictiveness, of other tower defense games.

A scene from the swamp levels. Besides being tasked with protecting weird swamp birds instead of deer, nothing here changes gameplay wise.

Mitchel’s Final Say

There are a whole lot of tower defense games on the app store right now, and if it weren’t for the spell mechanic, I would probably say to pass on Monster Feed.  But due to this, it earns a little bit of a higher recommendation.  I don’t know why, but for some reason it is just so satisfying to see three armor clad minotaurs explode into bloody smears knowing it was your throwing trident that did it.  There is a demo up, so I’d say give that a go first, get a feel if it’s your kind of thing.   Like I said earlier there has been promise of future updates to add monsters and levels, but unless that will include new towers, I can’t say if it’ll earn its own rotation in my before-bed iPad gaming sessions that now consists of Osmos and Ranch Rush 2.  What? Don’t judge.

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