iPad Game Review: Monster Feed HD Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Monster Feed is an innovative and polished fantasy themed tower defense game. Your task is to strategically place towers (weapons) in such a way that you are able to stop the relentless onslaught of monsters intent on eating your sweet, innocent, but oh so tasty fauna. As with all tower defense games, you can only place the towers that you can afford, and money is earned by killing monsters. What sets this game apart, however, is the ability to intervene in the battle by casting spells. The game sports a simple, intuitive interface, and smoothly animated high resolution graphics.
The game begins with a mandatory tutorial. Veteran TD players should not despair, however. The tutorial is informative, yet mercifully short; a testament to the uncluttered and intuitive interface. Towers are placed by touching on any clear spot on the map (other than the pre-defined monster's path), after which you are greeted by a wheel of tower options. Selecting one is as simple as touching it. If you would like to see the range of the tower before you buy it, touch and hold. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to see what the tower does before you select it. This is not a long-term problem, however, because unlike some other TD games, the number of different types of towers that can be place is not ridiculously large. In fact, there are only five: standard, poison, freezing, harpoon, and nuke. While this may sound like there isn't a lot of variation, the actual effect is quite the opposite. Because each tower type is so uniquely different from the others, you don't waste time vacillating between 2 or 3 options that aren't varied enough to really matter, yet leave you vapor-locked trying to decide. Towers can, and should, be upgraded as the game progresses. These upgrades don't add any new features, however, failing to invest in upgrades is a long-term recipe for failure as they make each tower significantly more powerful. Of course knowing when to upgrade rather than simply purchase new towers is one of the cornerstones of a good tower defense game.
Coins and mana orbs drop from dead monsters as you play, which is the only thing I didn't like about the game. You can't really ignore them as they are a major source of cash/energy. However, trying to pick them up can result in unintentional tower placement; or worse: tower selling/removal.
As I alluded to earlier, some points on the map are not clear; they are occupied by bushes, rocks, trees, etc. Further, you are likely to find that the very best map points are not available to you for this reason. Believe it or not, this is a good thing because these objects can be destroyed by targeting them, at last giving you something to do between waves. Additionally, the AI is clever enough to only shoot landscape objects when there are no actual enemies to blast. Once the map is clear however, they will return to their task of clearcutting the forest/swamp until the targeted object is destroyed. As if this wasn't enough to set this game apart from the crowd, you are also given the ability to intervene directly by casting spells at the monsters. Currently there are two heroes to choose from, each with a different set of spells, which include such things as fireballs, freezing orbs, flying axes, and even an attack rabbit (Caer Bannog!). This adds a new layer of strategy to the game, and elevates you from the role of mere spectator that many TD games unfortunately relegate you to.
There is no campaign mode or story to be had; just additional maps to unlock (17 in all), however, any attempt at one would probably feel contrived or forced in a game like this. The lack of achievements and Game Center (or any other social gaming service) integration is sorely missed. In a recent forum post, however, the developer has promised to add this feature, as well as additional maps, heroes, and towers. I await with bated breath.
The graphics in Monster Feed HD are delightful. As a grown man, this is not a word that I often use, but in this case it applies. Sharp, high resolution graphics, smooth animation, and fastidious attention to detail have left me with an unmistakable impression that the total visual effect is greater than the sum of its parts. Even the menus are polished and uncluttered and have a playful, whimsical feel.
The sound effects in Monster Feed HD are excellent. However, I couldn't figure out the difference between the two available settings: game sounds and ambience. They both have sliders, and both seem to either completely disable or enable game sounds. Additionally, I had some difficulty re-enabling game sounds after disabling them within a game. The only way I could find to do this was to restart the app. Lastly, there is no in-game music. It does, however, allow you to listen to your own music while you play as long as you rev it up before you launch the game. Personally, I almost always turn off in-game music so this wasn't a big loss for me. If this feature is important to you, however, consider yourself warned.
Monster Feed HD is a highly enjoyable tower defense game for your iPad. It is beautiful to look at, the controls are spot-on, and most importantly, it's extremely fun to play. The sound effect controls are odd and a bit buggy, however, and the lack of in-game music (other than your own) might be an issue for some.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Excellent, high resolution graphics, that are beautifully animated and are packed with personality Sound: - 3 - Good sound effects, but the controls are a bit confusing. No in-game music other than your own. Controls: - 4 - An excellent interface. Placing towers couldn?t be easier and targeting monsters with your spells is intuitive and fun. Picking up coins can be frustrating, however. Gameplay: - 4 - A great tower defense game with a twist. The ability to directly intervene with spells adds an entirely new layer to the gameplay. No achievement or Game Center/Open Feint/Crystal Support.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Use your time between waves to clear the terrain. Not only will it allow you to use more of the map, it also yields cash. Don't be afraid to experiment with the different types of towers. Use your spells early in each wave to help you get up to speed fast. Be careful when picking up coins so that you don't inadvertently purchase or sell a tower while you're frantically tapping.