Monsu is a side-scrolling platform game that utilizes cards in order to aid your green hero called Monsu. Your quest is simple: run as far as you can, collecting as many Diamonds as possible. Crash, smash, and stomp your way through barriers, pikemen, and houses in this fast-paced platformer… with cards?! Okay, call me intrigued.
You may be scratching your head at this point. Why have we decided to tackle a platform game here? The answer is simple — there are cards involved! If there are cards in a game, you can bet your butt we will be there to review it!
Has Monsu tried to run before it can walk, or is it actually an ingenious combination of genres, never before seen? Read on to find out…
Monsu is your character, and he just loves to run and collect Diamonds. The further you run and the more Diamonds you collect, the higher your score. It’s not quite as simple as that though, as there are enemies, barriers, and even pitfalls that’ll be there along the way to stop you. Right out of the gates our green smasher chases after a chest full of Diamonds. I guess Diamonds are a Monsu’s best friend, as well as for girls!
Don’t worry though. Monsu has brought some friends along to help him. These friends come in the form of cards that can be equipped to our little green friend. Before we get on to the details of the card mechanic, I shall explain a little bit about how the general game plays.
As the game is a side-scrolling platformer, all you need to do to interact with it is to tap the screen. Tap to jump and double tap for a double jump — and that’s about it. It really is as simple as that. You need to jump on pikemen, but avoid the guys with spiked helmets. Jump on flying logs and over barriers, but you can run through buildings. There are gaps in the ground known as pitfalls and you’ll need to jump over these too.
The idea is to run as far as you can, whilst completing a mission objective. Once you have completed your objective it becomes a “run as far as you can” mission, with pure survival as the goal. The further you run, the greater your end score will be. Jumping on enemies and running through buildings increases your score, as does collecting Diamonds. There is a meter that fills up as you collect Diamonds. Once full, it will automatically trigger a Fever that will summon a large yellow bird that’ll carry you across some of the terrain.
Now for the cards. The cards are equipped to Monsu and are always active. There are fewer than 50 cards, all with different effects that are used to help Monsu’s progress during a run. These effects can hit things in front of you, carry you a distance, increase Diamond collection, or offer some protection. With so many cards to collect and try out, Monsu has a decent amount of longevity and replayablity for such a simple game.
In all of my current playtime on Monsu, I have yet to complete a run. All that happens is the scenery shifts and the pace picks up the further I go. This makes the run more challenging the further you get into it. The only way for a run to end is to be hit or have your Monsu fall down a hole. I am hoping there is an end marker somewhere in the game as I have now made it my quest to find it… but I have a feeling I may be at it for a long, long while!
MODES AND FEATURES
I really like how many different, fun features Monsu has. My favorite by far was the feature that allowed me to dress my Monsu up in a series of degrading outfits that I imagine no Monsu would be caught dead wearing if they had the choice! Ranging from knightly outfits to cuddly bears, the dress-up mode is stupidly fun. My Monsu looked amazing in his knight’s helmet, bear feet, carrying a briefcase, and a pink tutu… Very fetching! You can buy these outfit pieces with Coins, which you earn playing the game.
The main game is focused on the progressive missions you have to run through. The missions have individual requirements until you can check them off as complete. Some just need you to achieve a set score, others require you stomp enemies, or crash through buildings. Having the wrong load-out of cards equipped can hamper your progress at achieving these, so there is a small amount of “deckbuilding” strategy at play here. Rewards are given to you at the end of each run, such as Coins (the game’s soft currency), Gems (the premium currency), or even new cards.
A nice little touch was how you obtain cards from the boosters. Instead of just tapping to open, you need to smash them open! This requires you to tap the screen several times before you can even see what the card is. The higher rarity the card, the more taps are required to smash the booster open. Although you can only obtain one card per booster, you can buy two or three boosters at a time. With a little over 45 cards to collect, it won’t take you long to fill out the collection, most likely.
Card evolution is another thing that Monsu shares with other card games. You can increase the level and power of a card. The standard rarities of cards available in boosters are Common, Rare, and Epic. You can go beyond these by unlocking and evolving them into Legendary and even Ultimate cards. These require a sacrifice of 3 maximum-level cards in order to make them. It is a lot to pay, but well worth it as their power to enhance your runs is unparalleled.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
Monsu is void of a deckbuilding system, as it doesn’t require one. Instead we can see all of our unlocked cards at a glance. Each card is tagged with its type, whether that be a Flyer, Weapon, or Mount. You may only equip one of each type to your Monsu. Leveling a card is done in one of two ways. The first is when you open a booster and already own that card, it will automatically upgrade that card to the next level. The second is to spend coins in order to enhance it without the need for a booster.
I would certainly recommend that you level the cards when you can. Cards such as the Spear will throw out more spears the higher the level it is. This will kill off enemies before you even get to them, reducing the chance of ending your run. I also found that the Flight cards that picked me up after a drop into a pit would save me on many of my runs. They do have a cool-down timer though, so you can’t abuse them.
The strategy comes with each level that you play. The more you get into the game, the more familiar you become with how the scenery changes and what you can expect ahead. You can also ensure that your run is not interrupted by ground enemies by using equips that’ll either hit them before you get there, or by using a mount that can plow right through them. You should always try and collect the special icons throughout the run that’ll give you shields, a flight boost, or trigger your mount’s ability.
I was hesitant about Monsu at first, as I didn’t quite understand the point of the game. There didn’t appear to be any clear win condition or final objective in mind. Instead, I got a game that reminded me a lot of Sonic The Hedgehog. Replace the blue hedgehog with a green ogre and swap the rings for Diamonds and we have pretty much the same game, except for the ever-so-addictive card collection and equipping mechanic.
Obviously this game has a lot more features than Sonic. These features are great additions to a game that would have felt very bland and empty without them. The intent behind Monsu was to create a simple and enjoyable game that takes as little or as long as you like to play.
I think that allowing a player the freedom to come up with hundreds of different equip combinations adds a lot of creativity to the game. Sure, there is little strategic depth to the game, but this is one game that doesn’t need to over-complicate the thought processes needed just to be able to play.
Monsu is fun, quirky, and interesting as it’s done something we’ve never seen before, mixing two very unlikely genres together. It certainly deserves a quick run… or two!
For more screenshots, click here.
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