It's reductive to communicate what a game is like by using the shorthand of what other game(s) it most resembles, but it's true: Monotaur [Free] meshes the obscuro super-toughness of Ikaruga (the infamous 2001 Japanese arcade hit) with the pellet-munching mania of Pac-Man (the arcade game you already know about).
There's a bit more to it than that, but first let's delve into the logistics of how this wonderful Frankenstein lurches about.
It's a tilt-to-win game, only you never really will win. The action goes until your reflexes can't keep up: You control a little single-colored horned dot (a monotaur!) and tilt your device around to navigate the screen. Why do you want to move around the screen? Because you want to gobble up the other dots that match your color and float about freely.
You can switch colors by tapping the screen, which takes you from white to black and then back. Black can only absorb black dots, and white can only absorb white dots. If you clash colors with a dot that you smack into, you die.
It's that simple, only anything but.
The biggest gripe against Monotaur is that there are more wrinkles in the game via other modes, but you can only unlock them after getting sufficiently frustrated (ie: earning enough "experience") to earn that privelege.
Of course, you can pony up the money for an in-app transaction to unlock the modes right out of the gate -- which also disables the ads that pop up between games -- but that's akin to paying $5 just to make sure the princess isn't going to be in another castle. It'd defeat the purpose and go against the developer's vision. Plus, who wants to pay for something on a free game? Millionaires who own bedazzled limited edition U2 iPods?
The three other modes merit hustling to unlock, though, because they are far superior to the initial free-play mode available upon downloading. In all, they are: rage, pacifist, and master -- which also just happen to be my favorite adjectives to use in Mad Libs.
That bias aside, I will say that pacifist (where you have to avoid all the dots) is probably the toughest by far. And as much as I enjoy a challenge, rage mode is the most enjoyable because it allows you to kerplode large clusters of dots at will after you've picked up the requisite powerups.
So, like many iOS games that hinge on a single mechanic, how much you enjoy Monotaur will depend largely upon how enticing it sounds. It's free, which means there's a lower barrier to giving it a shot, but it also happens to scratch my particular itch. It might for you, or maybe you just need some aloe vera instead.
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