Tell me if this game sounds familiar. You walk around in a top down map, command cute creatures to fight other cute creatures, capture those creatures and choose when they can evolve. You guessed it… Pokemon. But that’s not the name of the debut game from Little Box Apps, the new company of Bryan Mitchell, the developer who made Geared. This game is called Monsters Invade: Oz (Free). Yes, as in The Wizard of Oz, minus everything you know about L. Frank Baum’s beloved story, save the yellow brick road and Toto.
Monsters Invade: Oz takes the core functionality of Pokemon and places it in an Oz-like world. The main character, presumably Dorothy, follows the yellow brick road with Toto, battling and capturing creatures to later use in battle. If you love playing Pokemon, like me, then you’ll start to fall in love with this game the minute you enter your first battle. But, I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, I have to point out the awesome and dynamic music track for this game. The techno-inspired music really makes you feel as though you’re at a Rave. Electric instruments and snare drums will have you bobbing your head up and down nonstop. The music also adds a layer of epic-sauce to the game, which isn’t actually there. You get hyped up to play as if you’re traveling through one of Ganon’s dungeons in The Legend of Zelda.
The audio stands juxtaposed to the cutesy artwork. Monsters Invade: Oz has a charming, hand-drawn visual style that reminds me of a children’s coloring book. When mixed together with the Rave music, it creates a creepy vibe that urges you to play on – even when the forced IAPs and pop-up ads start to get annoying.
Similar to Final Fantasy, as you travel along the world map, you will periodically be drawn into a battle. The non-descript monsters are kind of these amorphous doodle blobs. There are round blobs, slim blobs, blobs with bird feet, blobs in pajamas, those with wings and many more. Although the art style is cute, none of the monsters feel truly unique or memorable – even when they evolve. I only cared about my monsters’ attributes (health, defense and attack), but never really cared about which monsters were in my party. Perhaps, that’s because none of the monsters have a specific power or ability that made them stand out.
There are approximately 100 monsters in the game that you can capture by using a book. Players can easily switch to other monsters in their active party during a battle. Of course, to add more monsters to your battle party, you will need to spend gold. By the time you add the fifth monster to you party, which you will probably want to do after playing for an hour, you have to spend 225 gold to open up the slot. Needless to say, you probably won’t be able to afford it so you will have to make an IAP.
This is a little unfortunate. You have to spend gold to do just about everything, including evolving your monsters and upgrading your team’s overall attributes. $1.99 purchase only gets you 125 gold. The spending can quickly add up. It would have been nice if there were more gold drops or some form of dungeon grinding to get more gold. Sometimes when you put down the game and return to it, the game will prompt you by saying that Toto found a gold bar. Sadly, one gold bar can’t buy much in Oz.
The turn-based battles feature a timed mini-game. When it’s your turn, a spinning wheel appears. Land on the green area, and another wheel starts spinning, then another. If you land in the green area a third time, you can earn a multiplier on your attack. Once you attack, you don’t get experience points automatically. Instead, you have to pick them up.
When your monsters get drained of paint, they fall asleep. You’ll have to wait several hours for your monsters to become active again. Slowly but surely the fun of playing this game will begin to diminish just like your monsters’ paint. It’s sad because this is really a cool game, despite all of the pop-up advertisements. The IAP system needs to be revamped or just make the game a pay title. I’m sure Pokemon gamers would be willing to pay to have this kind of experience on iOS.
Monsters Invade: Oz is a joy to play. However, play is too restricted by the current IAP system. Waste your gold on adding monsters to your party too early, instead of upgrading attributes, and you will find it difficult to survive in battle. Then, it’s a lengthy wait before you can challenge and capture monsters again. Be sure to check out what our community is saying about this game on our forums.