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The design philosophy behind many free-to-play games seems to be latching onto players’ bank accounts and doing as much damage as possible. This is usually achieved by limiting essential resources, or by holding the shiniest, most powerful items behind a fat price sticker. This is all fine and well, so long as the core mechanics remain fair and engaging. That's not the case with Monster Paradise.
Monster Paradise essentially plays itself until your character can’t take another step; then it asks for money or makes you wait. When you begin, you’ll pick a gender and an element, the latter of which determines the sort of party composition you should strive for. The point here is to defeat and capture several monsters, acquire them in card form, and then “fuse” them with your current creatures to create more capable warriors. Levels take the form of linear paths, and each step depletes your stamina, which recharges slowly. You can, of course, purchase a nectar drink for a buck and skip the wait.
It masquerades as a creature card-battling game, but is in truth little more than a tapping simulator. You prod the attack button to strike, and then you do it again and again, ad nauseam. If you have better stats than your foe, well, the spoils are yours. But iOS game development passed this point long ago, or so we thought.
The game does have a robust array of social elements, however, and you can join guilds, shout-out to players, or pit your monsters against each other. And Paradise is adorable, admittedly. The art is cutesy and innocent, and not unlike something you’d find in a Pokémon game. The user interface is polished and attractive, and it’s clear a lot of time was spent making the game easy on the eyes. But when the presentation is the most appealing aspect of a game by a wide margin, it doesn't bode well for an entertaining play experience.
The bottom line. Monster Paradise looks slick, but it feels like the designers forgot to build an interesting game around the framework.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Characters and creatures are attractive. The required tutorial gets you on you feet quickly. Social elements are busy and plentiful.iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Combat is painfully simple. Stamina decreases too rapidly, forcing you to pay or wait. Looped music tracks get annoying fast.