Casual gamers have seen their share of endless runner titles released on the iPhone. Similar to on-rails games, in runner games, you don’t have full control of your character’s movement; the character runs endlessly from left to right. Typically, you can only make your character jump to avoid pitfalls, monsters and the occasional land obstacle. Sometimes you are given the option to shoot monsters. Since these games pop up so often on iPhone, it’s easy to turn a blind eye. However, when Halfbrick Studios, makers of BuzzFocus favorite Fruit Ninja, decides to release a running game, you have to sit up and take notice. Monster Dash, Halfbrick’s latest release, breaks the monotony of running games, while offering several gaming niceties that make for one addictive title.
Monster Dash features Barry Steakfries, a guy who likes to run around with a shotgun blasting zombies, mummies and vampires. Did Halfbrick unknowingly discover the long lost Winchester brother from Supernatural? Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) do love their shotguns, and apparently so does Mr. Steakfries. Monster Dash features four stages Tomb town, Demon Dynasty, Zombie Metropolis, and Vampire Kingdom. Once you run 1,000 M you will advance to the next board. What immediately makes this game different is that the game randomizes the order of which boards you play on. So, essentially, every time you play the game is different.
You have two buttons at your disposal: the left button to jump and the right button to shoot. You’ll need to jump to avoid falling into chasms or on top of land spikes. The longer you press down on the left button the farther and higher you will jump. Gamers can also jump over the roaming undead or jump on top of enemies to kill them, much like Super Mario. If you jump on an undead enemy that is walking through land spikes, the spikes will not hurt you. But, why jump when you have an explosive shotgun? You’ll want to play Monster Dash with sound, watching the small fire bursts out of your shotgun just doesn’t have the same monster-pounding feel that seeing and hearing the fiery blast does. Halfbrick did a great job in adding a little bass to each blast, really making the shotgun boom. The Shotgun fires short range bursts.
If you ever get tired of the shotgun, there are weapon upgrades to be found in crates sprinkled throughout each board. Upgrades include the Pacifier, which acts like a powerful handgun that shoots across the entire length of the board. There is a Machinegun Jetpack that allows you to rain death down from above. The Jetpack also gives you some added height as the momentum from the downward bullet blasts propels Steakfries upward. The Mr. Zappy gun provides an electric burst that disintegrates your enemies and leaves you glowing bright blue. No word yet if this will have any long-term health effects on Barry Steakfries.
Gamers are given three hearts. So you can die by losing all your hearts or by falling into a chasm. There are about two hearts on every board, but mistiming the jump to grab them can result in a quick death. When you die from heart loss, you will explode into a bunch of bones.
Barry starts the game off at a moderate jogging pace. As the game progresses, he will slowly gain speed. However, the faster you run, the more difficult it is to control your speed, dodge enemies and time chasm jumps. By the third board, you’ll see a lot more monsters on the screen as well as longer land spike beds. With the added speed, you’ll be able to jump the spikes with your superfast running start. By the third board you’ll really feel the adrenaline of Monster Dash, even if it is fleeting. When Barry picks up speed you’ll be wishing you had one more life. Alas, you don’t.
At the end of each game you can check out your stats and see how they compare to your overall stats. The game tracks stats like distance, monsters killed and how many monsters you killed with each weapon. Much like Fruit Ninja’s wise sage fruit facts, Monster Dash leaves you with a gaming quip from Barry Steakfries. You will also get different rankings based on how well you do. Ratings range anywhere from “False Start” and “It’s time to start a Re-run” to “Jet Setter.” Gamers can upload stats to leaderboards via the Openfeint system. Monster Dash also allows you to post updates to Twitter and Facebook.
Monster Dash is one running game worth checking out. The game is priced at a reasonable $0.99. Halfbrick already has additional boards planned for release in the coming months, which may come sooner than later. In conclusion, here is a quote from Barry Steakfries: “Why am I the cat with only one life?”
Platform: iPhone/iPod Touch
Publisher: HalfBrick Studios
Release Date: August 19, 2010
Rating: 8.7 / 10
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