Review by SneakTheSnake
I feel I've played this before. The proof is in the pudding.
If there's one thing the mobile market should have more of is quality software. By quality, I don't just mean programs that spam my phone with ads and mess up my ability to make calls, as no program should have that. By quality, I do mean games with original gameplay, likable graphics and staying power. Few games on the mobile market fit these criteria, and Pudding Monsters nearly does. It just feels as if I've played this many times over, save for the interesting star-collecting mechanic, which I'll get into later.
The premise of Pudding Monsters is that you must reunite all the gelatinous blobs on the screen. You do this by tapping and sliding on individual globs to send them sliding across the screen; they'll only stop their movement if they hit a barrier of some kind. Some globs leave a trail of slime behind them, which stops other globs in their tracks; "hypnotized" slimes move all in unison. You beat a level if you get all the slimes into one cohesive blob. It feels entirely too simple, but the addition of stars and crowns makes gameplay a little more interesting.
If you're able to get the large gelatinous mass to touch star icons placed across the level grid, you'll earn bonus points. Collecting stars (a max of three in each stage) unlocks further levels. Interestingly, you're also able to get crowns; this is achieved by nailing all four possible amounts of stars, from zero up to three. This is a lot harder than it sounds; if you think it's difficult to nail all three stars in one run, try nailing only one, or none. Each stage is rather claustrophobic in design, so much so that it's likely you'll hit at least one star in a stage, even if on accident. These stars and crowns are where Pudding Monsters get its legs, as this game design has been done to death.
Sure, there are unique elements, like the cloning device which multiplies your one blob by three, and the slime-trailing blob and springs add a nice touch to an otherwise plain puzzling landscape. Pudding Monsters, though, does not have that same appeal, in my opinion, as Cut the Rope does. Cut the Rope thrives in simplicity like Pudding Monsters does, but Cut the Rope employs a somewhat more novel concept, if only by a smidgen. It's also in the physics that Cut the Rope thrives; there are so many more variables, thus making the game more exciting for the player. Pudding Monsters, in that regard, is only serviceable.
There's no sense of progression, which is an issue with Cut the Rope as well; the environment-exclusive obstacles do not become reused in later worlds. They only stay within that level batch, just like there's only a certain batch of levels in Cut the Rope that use the mechanical arm. They never cross over; it would have been nice to see levels in Pudding Monsters with springs, clone machines and the like all together, but that's not the case.
The graphics are quite nice here, though. I like the colorful levels and quirky character designs. The animation is smooth and, overall, the game looks great. What I think is especially nice is the game's sense of scale; you start off in the kitchen, and then move into a neighborhood, and then into the city. Your blob becomes increasingly larger with each set of levels, so your obstacles become appropriately "bigger". Sure, they take up the same 1x1 space in your grid, but what was once cases of yogurt in the kitchen level become cars and buses you're bumping up against when you reach the big city. Each environment adds new obstacles as well.
The sound is annoying; I don't like the grunts of the characters, and the music only becomes repetitive. The game's replay value is certainly there, that is, if you want to nab all the crowns. These can get especially tricky in the later levels.
There's a good puzzle game here, but it's been done before. The sound could use some fine-tuning, but the gameplay and graphics might serve well for a few minutes of gameplay here and there. While it lacks the gameplay innovation of Cut the Rope, Pudding Monsters serves as a fine companion to Zeptolab's original product.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Pudding Monsters (US, 12/20/12)
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