Monster Flip for iPhone and iPad
There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering about Monster Flip, an iPhone and iPad puzzle game whose mechanics will be instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever played a match-three-style game. So why do I have such a hard time putting the game down? I think that’s a testament to the efforts of developer Launching Pad, which worked hard to add the little details that transform a standard game into something truly engaging.
Published by PikPok, Monster Flip features a grid made up of five different species of cube-shaped monsters. Using a finger, you draw a ring around at least three of those monsters, either horizontally or vertically. That causes the targeted monsters to flip around. Your goal: Flip the monsters so that you manage to match up at least three similar-looking critters. The matched monsters will disappear, and new ones will drop into the grid to take their place. Plan out your moves properly, and you can make multiple stacks of monsters disappear with one flip; you might even get lucky and have the monsters falling into the grid drop into groups of threes, scoring you bonus points. Again, this isn’t anything that will shock anyone who’s ever played Bejeweled or the many match-three games that it inspired.
Monster Flip would be pretty rudimentary if it just involved matching up different kinds of creatures. Launching Pad has thrown in a twist: Occasionally, angry monsters will drop into your grid, twitching and growling and generally acting out. You’ve got six turns to make those monsters disappear from the grid, or else they’ll explode, bringing your game to an end. The further you progress in the game, the more angry monsters appear with greater frequency. It adds a degree of difficulty that keeps you on your toes.
The angry monster twist is nice, but it’s not the only way that Monster Flip stands out. The monsters have personality, bouncing happily in the grid or sticking out their tongues while waiting for you to make a play. Tap on a monster to start drawing a box, and the monster will squeak or squeal. Even the angry monsters make charming growls or grunts when they appear. The noises made by the brown-furred Fleens are particularly delightful. (Yes, the monsters all have names and backstories, which you can find in a Wikipedia-style reference guide in the app.) Throw in a soundtrack that’s actually kind of soothing, and you’ve got a game where the developer put a lot of thought into each and every detail.
Monster Flip also keeps things fresh with four different different gameplay modes. In addition to Classic—your basic “match three” game in which you progress to new levels as you rack up points—Countdown gives you two minutes to score as many points as possible while Sequence allots you 50 moves to tally a high score. Puzzle mode places the monsters in assorted shapes, and challenges you to clear them out of the puzzle in as few moves as possible. You’re awarded stars based on the number of moves it takes you to complete a puzzle. Be warned—puzzles start out seemingly easy, but get pretty complex pretty quickly.
Monster Flip doesn’t exactly break new ground for an iOS game, but that’s OK. What it does do is get every element of the match-three game right, putting its own unique and delightful stamp on the genre.
[Philip Michaels is the editor of Macworld.com.]
Updated on March 24 to correct the number of monsters featured in Monster Flip.