Chuckmate! Imagine walking home with a friend late one night.
Let’s call this friend, oh I don’t know… Nigel. Everything’s fine, then suddenly, six guys dressed in black leap out of an alleyway and set about trying to mug you. What would you do? Run? Scream? Fight?
Or would you hoist Nigel over your shoulder and throw him at them? If you’re an adorable little red monster named Kotomon, you’d do the latter.
All Kotomon wants to do is toddle along from one campfire to the next on each level on his home planet , but his path is routinely blocked by naughty black monsters (a teacher called me that at school once. They swiftly lost their job).
Kotomon can combat them, but not directly. To fend them off, he can pick up other friendly monsters from around the planet and as we discussed earlier, chuck them at his opponents. Each monster has a different skill; some travel fast in straight lines, others are powerful but slow, others breathe fire. Sounds like me and my friends on a Friday night.
He can only fire one monster at a time and a maximum of five can be in his party. Or as me and my buddies like to call ourselves ‘Fly Crew’. As far as gameplay goes, that’s it. It’s simple, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Except of course, when it is. And with Kotomon, it is.
Firstly, the controls. Swipe where you want Koto to travel, and he will. Only that it’s never as responsive as you’d like, and when those pesky enemy monsters start throwing bowling balls at you and breathing fire as the levels progress, you’ll yearn for more accuracy. This is especially an issue where picking up your monster buddies are concerned; after throwing them, you have to collect them again, but attempting this while dodging the enemy projectiles means you’ll literally be running round in circles a lot of the time as controlling Koto is so fiddly. Death swiftly follows.
The game camera has a fatal flaw in that it refuses to reorient itself based on your direction. Instead it’s fixed in one position meaning that if an enemy is shooting at your from off screen, turning to face them is futile. You’ll have to pretty much guess where they are. Guess what? Death swiftly follows.
You also earn stars for your performance on each level, but they aren’t actually used for anything other than your own satisfaction. There aren’t any upgrades to be had, or in-game shop to peruse. It almost makes me wish there was some blood-sucking IAP to moan about.
Visually it’s both charming and underwhelming. The cell shaded graphics are nice enough, and the characters are cute, especially when they start doing a jig if you leave them alone for long enough, but it always feels like there’s a more impressive-looking retina-sexy game under the surface that the developers couldn’t be bothered to unleash.
Sound is trumpeted as a selling point in the game’s App Store description. Apparently every move adds a beat to the background music allowing you to influence the soundtrack. Unfortunately this just came across as an extra bongo or snare hit every time I threw a monster into an enemy. Hardly dynamic.
Kotomon may catch monsters, but didn’t quite catch me. It’s not all bad news though; if six guys ever jump out at me on my way home with a mate, I’ll know what to do.
Kotomon is out now on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad for $2.99. Get it on the
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