Has the App Store gained a true Pokemon title?
We've been waiting a long time for a decent Pokemon-esque game to make its way on to the App Store, yet most of the pretenders have either turned out to be rather lightweight, or just flat-out scams trading on the Pokemon name. Monster Paradise has picked up quite a bit of attention recently, but what does it bring to mobiles for fans of the genre?
As a click/reward, click/reward game in the vein of many a browser title, the action is played out through a series of loaded screens, so this is less of an adventure game and more of a browsing experience as you wander digitally through Aeria Mobile's servers. Working your way through the bare-bones quests of the game is a question of gradually expending your Stamina as you make progress, fight the various monsters on the way for experience gains, and grab any cash you see on the way.
That cash is used in the Fusion section, where you can combine the characters you've amassed on your quests in order to boost individual monsters. This is Monster Paradise's hook, and the way the game drives you towards building a powerful personal army.
Beyond the single-player, the social component of Monster Paradise is split into two sections. Firstly you can join a guild which allows you to group up and take on some of the more ferocious Dark Monsters that plague the lands. Questing through the game offers you the chance to give shout-outs to fellow players which add monster summoning points. Do a shout-out at a guild mate and you'll receive a bonus number of points. Membership of a guild also confers an experience bonus, and you can work together to hatch an egg which provides additional advantages.
Then there's the competitive angle of Monster Paradise. Here, you'll search for battles that will allow you to take on competitors in order to snatch fragments of Inferno Dragon tablets. Each area of the game has its own set of tablets to gather, and a complete set will reward you with a special monster. Of course, it's just as easy for competitors to steal your own treasured tablets, so there's an arms-race bubbling beneath the surface of the game. It's a nice touch, and adds some great motivation to keep empowering your army.
This is all sounds like rather good fun (and for the most part it is), but unfortunately Monster Paradise raises its rather ugly in-app purchase head pretty quickly. To progress through even the basic quests, you're going to need Stamina. Run out of Stamina and it's time to put the game aside for what starts out as an hour, and increases exponentially as you level up. To take any worthwhile part in the social elements of the game, you're going to have to lay out a fair bit of cash to reach a point where you can compete on a level playing field and grab those tablets.
As with most free click/reward games, sooner rather than later (much sooner in this case) you're going to be faced with the choice of dipping into the penny jar or move onto something else.We would have happily paid a few dollars to continue the game unimpeded after a free trial, or even a nominal recurring charge for server maintenance in the style of Order and Chaos. The fact is you're going to need to open your wallet often if you want to get close to the best parts of the game's social and competitive play.
Monster Paradise is one of the better monster gathering games we've played on mobiles, and those with less aversion to the cynical business model will enjoy what's on offer. We're still waiting for something special though, and Paradise's business model as well as its opaque, Skinner box questing means this isn't quite the obsessive collection game we've been waiting for.
What's Hot: A huge number of monsters to collect, a nice upgrade system, and fun competitive play.
What's Not: It's tough to make progress without purchases and the questing is very basic and somewhat repetitive.