Product Type: Taito Nintendo DS games
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Monster Bomber (DS)
Member Name: otalgia
Monster Bomber (DS)
Advantages: Good shoot em up
Disadvantages: Frantic stylus action
Monster Bomber is a blend of an arcade shoot-em-up game and strategy elements.
Developed by arcade legends Taito and published in 2006 by Majesco, the objective of the game follows the clichéd storyline of protecting planet Earth from a swarm of descending aliens by blasting them out of the sky before they land on your bases.
Comparison to Space invaders is inevitable however the game adds a new level of complexity through the addition of power ups and downs plus a unique missile firing method.
The game has three modes of play; scenario and survival and multiplayer.
In scenario mode you progress through series of stages with set objectives (such as defeat a set amount of monsters). Each completed successful stage allows you to progress to the next level. The stages are layered in a pyramid style and you start at the bottom of the pyramid and progress to the top as each stage is completed.
Survival mode is a little different and offers a more "instant play" version of the game where your main objective is to survive wave after wave of alien invaders until your lives are lost.
As the Survival mode game style is included as in the stages of scenario mode I'll base my review on that. Each screen in survival mode has a defined objective, such as destroy a given amount of aliens or create a given number of chain reactions (I'll explain this later). Despite the objective the method of game play is always the same.
The game playing area is split over the two Nintendo DS screens. The top screen displays the host of invading aliens whereas the bottom screen has a strip of coloured squares that represent the missile fire buttons and also a grey area above that is used for missile trajectory. A line representing a protection shield separates the two play areas.
The aliens in the top screen slowly descend towards the lower screen and when they touch your shield line it is breached and the aliens can pass through the hole. Once an alien has passed through the shield area the game is over.
So how do you stop these multicoloured beasties invading? Simple by using the multicoloured buttons on the rear of the screen fire missile balls at the aliens. You can destroy an alien in a couple of ways.
The first way is to fire a ball the same colour as the approaching alien. To do this you touch on the coloured button that matches the alien colour and hurl the missile ball in the aliens' direction using the stylus to adjust the angle. If the ball hits the alien it is destroyed however if the coloured missile ball hits and alien of a different colour then it turns into another alien.
The second way is to fire a stronger missile ball at the aliens. To create a stronger missile ball you need to click on the coloured button that matches the colour of the alien that you wish to destroy and then hold it in place for a few seconds with the stylus to increase its powers of destruction. When the missile ball is fully charged you can then throw it at the aliens in the usual manner. The supercharged missile ball has a greater payload than its feebler counterpart and when it hits an alien of the same colour it destroys it and all of the other matching coloured aliens in its path. Should the missile hit the wrong colour alien in error then the alien is pushed up the playfield and away from the shield. If this alien collides with an alien whose colour matches the missile ball then a "Chain reaction" is created and all colliding aliens are destroyed.
You may think that using a powered up missile ball would make completing this game a breeze, think again! The powering up of a missile ball can take a couple of seconds and whilst the missile is charging the aliens continue their quest towards your shield. I find that the best time to use this weapon is when there are a large matching group of aliens sharing the same colour that can be eliminated in one large chain reaction.
The game gets further complicated as some aliens require more than one hit to be destroyed. They are sometimes armoured by oil drum coats that when hit explode and reveal the occupying alien.
The best part of the game is where you have a rainbow missile ball. To get this type of missile you must destroy a set amount of aliens. As each alien is destroyed a level meter begins to fill and when it is full up you can then use the rainbow missile ball (for a 5 second burst). The rainbow missile ball destroys an alien regardless of its colour and I find that in this mode you can frantically sweep the stylus back and forth the coloured missile buttons and destroy a couple of rows of approaching aliens before your weapon returns to its usual state.
Fortunately in addition to the rainbow missile ball there are also a large range of power-ups that descend from the top screen and can assist your game play dramatically. There are about ten of these power ups (such as freezing the aliens' movement) and they really do help clear a level. Unfortunately they are quite sparse and don't appear as much as I'd like in the game.
In addition to the power-ups there are also power-downs. These items, like the power ups, fall from the top screen and are activated when shot. These items really hamper your game play and have features such as faster invading aliens that really make the defence task impossible. When playing in multiplayer mode you can inflict these power downs onto your opponents.
Each challenge continues until the aliens have breached your shield line and then its game over.
It's worth noting at this point that up to four people can play this game in multiplayer mode and only 1 cartridge is required to host the game in download play mode. The multiplayer takes the same format as the previously mentioned survival mode, where the last player remaining is the winner of the game.
The game also has the usual save game, sound and difficulty level options available plus a good in-game tutorial.
Sound, control and graphics
The music is computer generated music that bubbles away happily in the background without effecting concentration or enjoyment of the game. The missiles are fired with a healthy retro laser sound and the noise of toasted exploding aliens is gratuitous!
The controls mainly consist of stylus swipes to hurl your missiles at the invading alien fleet. The controls work well although the frantic stylus swiping can get quite tiring on the wrist after a prolonged amount of playing.
The graphics are bright and colourful with the alien sprites being large and well defined. The menus are clear and intuitive and overall the game has a slight cartoon style to it.
The game play is quite repetitive and can become quite boring after a long period of play.
That said, it is a very well designed game and is quite challenging to progress through the levels, particularly in scenario mode. The frantic stylus action may exhaust the casual player although it's an ideal game to pick up when urges to indulge in an arcade game call! There is an element of strategy required in scenario mode and I this can prove tricky, however I found that rapid indiscriminate missile firing usually had the desired effect and cleared the levels regardless!
To conclude I would say that this is an enjoyable game as most of the levels didn't require a great deal of concentration to play and it's a great game for a quick alien bashing fix!
© M Jones (Otalgia) 2008
Summary: Great alien blasting game from Taito