Monomino Review – When Tetris Met Lemmings

Monomino is a block-based puzzle game developed by final year students from Nanyang Polytechnic, School of Interactive & Digital Media in Singapore.

The basic premise involves clearing a path home for the ‘babies’ or ‘block-babies’ – or whatever they are called – that fall from a cloud each time the block-parents kiss. This involved some very quick thinking since these babies fall from the clouds at high speed, ensuring that they don’t fall to an assumed death or get trapped. It’s never really as intuitive as it could be, with the need to constantly restart levels as things get a little more challenging, which in this case is from level 10 onward.

Yet considering there are 100 levels to play, I was well prepared for things to get boring long before then. This is eased away with the introduction of new mechanics every 20 levels or so, including special items or power ups. Personally I would have appreciated if the number was reduced in favor of stretching these out a little longer. The staggering amount of restarting you’ll do also renders the scoring system pointless, it’s not hard to nab 3 stars upon completion. However if you miss the mark, you’ll have to ask yourself whether it’s worth the effort or not and as is oft the case, you’ll be leaning towards the latter.

Monomino is very bright and colorful, obviously targeted toward younger players with the developers and publisher boasting that the game is ‘cute,’ which admittedly it may be, but it all comes off rather cheap. Especially when the only effort they put in involves attaching big eyes to colourful blocks and said, ‘look how cute this is’. It doesn’t help that the blocks came straight out of Tetris and honestly that feels like the better game.

Funnily enough, my biggest gripe is the soundtrack. Painfully annoying and repetitive, occasionally switching when restarting a level, but not often enough. The one solution I found involved disabling game sound and listening to my own music, not the ideal solution for the developers. If there’s one thing that will stop you from making it through 100 levels, the soundtrack could easily be it. If this game is truly aimed at children, then yes it would be suitable, though I question how far they’d progress without the help of a parent, who would most likely quickly turn it off after listening to the abhorrent music.

Speaking of closing, the ‘escape’ key completely closes the game. ‘Esc’ should usually be used to return to the previous screen, open a menu or do nothing at all. It’s very rare to find an application that completely closes after one push of the escape key and what’s worse is that it makes no sense. Why would a game be so eager to close itself, especially when there’s no real reason to open it again.

Monomino is nothing to bang on about, there’s a reasonable amount of playability on offer for $6, though only puzzle enthusiasts will really extract the games full potential. It may give a child a couple of hours entertainment before the difficulty really ramps up. For some reason the game is a Steam exclusive, which is absurd when it lends itself so easily to mobile platforms. Perhaps a port might find it the audience it needs, but right now I’m not convinced.

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