Cartoon Network’s newest game is Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake ($5), a puzzle game with lots of RPG elements. The game has a cutesy art style, but don’t let that turn you away — this title has plenty of depth and charm.
While the title reminds us of the 16-bit classic Zombies Ate My Neighbors, the gameplay of Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is like any other number of puzzle games that require players use the abilities of multiple characters to get through a level. The main protagonist is Niko, who leaves his village to find his dog and get back his birthday cake. But it soon becomes clear there’s more to the story.
Niko finds that some monsters are rather friendly, and they soon join his quest. The controls are easy to learn. Swiping a line moves characters about the screen, and tapping does everything else — switching between characters, interacting with the levels, and using a character’s special abilities. Those special abilities include ramming through obstacles or digging tunnels to go under walls. The levels are designed in a way that requires thoughtful use of those powers. We reviewed the game on an iPad mini; a few of the minor control issues with tapping would probably prove more problematic on the smaller screen of an iPhone.
Though you’ll be solving puzzles for most of the game, the RPG elements in Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake are a welcome addition. Players can walk around their home village, buy items, and make trades. While may iOS titles seem to force the characteristics of a secondary genre into a game without worrying about a proper fit, MAMBC has folded these elements in naturally. It really gives the game more depth than one might expect.
If we have one issue with the game, it’s that gameplay can be a bit slow. Although each level offers challenges — with one of those challenges being completing the level in a certain amount of time — you’ll likely find yourself moving your characters about the map at a leisurely pace, as they’re not speedsters. For most of the game, this isn’t a problem, but if you’re close to solving a puzzle and find yourself having to start over from the beginning, it can be a bit frustrating.
Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a well designed game with nice art and endearing characters. We do wish it moved a bit quicker at times, and some players may find the puzzles a bit tedious. But this is a fun, polished title that should appeal to puzzle and RPG fans, while also pulling in a large number of casual iOS gamers. The positives far outweigh the negatives here — Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake comes highly recommended.
iLounge Rating: A-