Look, I’m not one percent sure if HungryMaster’s [$2.99] over-the-top It Came From The East design and approach is supposed to feel like its ridiculing and therefore exposing the condition some Japanese games are in when they come to the West, but I really, really want to take it at face value. Because if it is satirical and as self-aware as I think it is, it’s absolutely brilliant -- the broken English, the ridiculous cast, and the collection of oddball mechanics bolstered by the low-definition approach to audio and visuals paint a truly hilarious picture of sub-par import games in a wholesome and entertaining way.

I know I can’t accurately describe the game’s premise to you, and hopefully that’s the point of HungryMaster. But here’s what I know. You play as an overly bubbly young anime girl with green hair who is visited, suddenly, by a magical talking cat named Saten. The cat tells the girl that she can have magic, too, in some fancifully broken English complete with spelling errors. From there, they have discussions about fruit and monsters that I can’t follow, but I get the distinct impression that it’s all riffing on anime tropes and bad translation efforts.

From a mechanical standpoint, I hesitate to call this a dual-stick shooter, even though it does feel like one. The entire game from what I’ve seen revolves around moving around a small forested environment and killing little monsters with magical bursts. In turn, these monsters drop food that you have to return to houses when a quota is filled. It’s simple and comically offbeat, which is exactly what I expect out of games like these. HungryMaster pushes it all to the next level with its cuteness, horrible dialogue, and hilarious arcade underpinnings which include scan lines and other lo-fi quality presentation tactics. Again, brilliance on display here -- if this is supposed to be riffing on the oddity of the import game.

The sad thing is that HungryMaster doesn’t work so well as an iPad game. The game doesn’t separate its movement and firing mechanics well, as both require you to hold down your finger around the character. With an iCade, however, the game pops. With the joystick, you can move around Delica with precision and ease, and with buttons, you can control your magical attacks in a much more profound and precise way.

Straight-up: I couldn’t stomach the game part of HungryMaster without the iCade, but in using it I was actually able to get into the action -- to really wander around the world and pummel the monsters I wanted to without fumbling, covering up the action with my fingers, or taking damage based on said fumbling. Without a doubt, this game feels as good as it was intended to feel with an iCade, and I've been having a blast as a result. You shouldn't miss this one, I think.

Also, if this isn’t satire, I take all of this back, but still maintain that this is ridiculous fun with an iCade regardless.

Previous games we’ve covered in this series: Mos SpeedrunHungryMasterMatch PanicSuper Mega Worm. Check out our NEW list of iCade titles here.

  • Michael

    ...I'm starting to really want an iCade. 0_o

  • Johnny Ice

    I've been playing this game on my iControlpad for awhile now. I agree with the author. As a touch screen game it's hard to get into. With a physical device such as the iCade or iControlpad it's awesome.

    • http://twitter.com/stuartcarnie Stuart Carnie

      It's great to hear comments like this.  There is a real market for physical controls for certain classes of games.  We can only hope Apple will see this and create a real SDK for us!

  • http://twitter.com/invalidname Chris Adamson

    With the careful mimicking of the Namco startup sequence (white grid, random characters), Hungry Master is indeed a tribute to the simple arcade games of the 80s. But like Electro Master before it, Hungry Master is uncannily like the forgotten games of that era. Instead of a timeless classic like Namco's first-tier titles (Pac Man, Galaga), the "Master" series falls somewhere between second-tier should've-been-hits like Bosconian, and duds like Toy Pop. It's got a reasonable game mechanic, but it just doesn't hold your interest for very long.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Lord-Gek-Jordan/1559737263 Tim Lord Gek Jordan

    Also, given the game's Japanese developers, I would not be surprised if the bad translation and typos are entirely intentional.

  • Azn

    It's obviously intentional. Though "Congraturations" is really approaching the line between "charming and in-the-know bad translation" and straight up racism. 

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  • http://www.mozzarellashop.it MasviL

    I played it with my new iCade. HungryMasters a "little" gem and deserves attention.