Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Monstaaa! ($0.99, Universal) is a gravity-based puzzle game that plays like a cross between a 2D labyrinth game and Cut the Rope. It is an interesting and playful twist at navigating an object through a maze of obstacles into the hungry mouth of a “Monstaaa” that attempts to cross over from puzzle game to platform game.
To play the game you must first decide how you want to hold your device. There are three configurable options: The first is more true to the gravity-based physics behind the game, which assumes that you will be holding the device absolutely flat. The second is more natural for gameplay and assumes that you will be holding the device at a slight angle. The third is customizable and allows you to set the preferred angle at which you will hold the device. All three settings only affect your device’s pitch, while the roll and yaw are fixed, meaning you can only adjust the initial zeroing of the tilt of the device.
Once you have everything set, controlling your bug couldn’t be easier. Tilt the device up and down (pitch) to the left and to the right (roll) and your bug will begin navigating a labyrinth of caves. The controls are quite sensitive and very responsive. To help you get used to the controls you can enable a gravity-indicating arrow that will show the direction that the bug intends to go. I found this feature very useful when learning how much movement is required to accelerate the bug across the screen.
The goal of each level is to direct the bug into the mouth of the Monstaaa in the cave. Things get a little trickier as more obstacles are placed in your way, like sharp objects, fire objects, narrow caverns, and locked doors requiring color-coded keys to open. This physics-based labyrinth game starts to be come more like a platform game with each new challenging element. As you direct your bug through each level, you can even collect up to three stars to increase your best score.
Early on you are rewarded with higher scores as you complete levels faster. In higher levels, the bug you are controlling will begin to grow, making it impossible to pass through certain corridors within the cavern. This is a very clever and unique way to add the element of a countdown timer to the challenge of completing a level. Go for an extra star or two to increase your best score, and you may just grow too big to fit through that last cavern leading up to the Monstaaa.
The graphics of the game are brilliant and look very good on the Retina Display of the new iPad. The tilting mechanism is one of the better ones I have had the chance to play with. Where at first you feel like you are playing a traditional marble-in-the-maze labyrinth game, you soon immerse yourself into the cave and become the bug on what could better be described as more of a platform game experience.