Monster Warrior Review

Some cute, fluffy rabbits have been caught by a witch, but they make their escape right before they’re boiled into a stew. The witch sends all manner of cackling monster goons after them, and naturally this invokes the player’s protective instinct to swipe and slash the goons into tiny pieces. I could spend time waxing philosophic on who or what the Monster Warrior (Out Now, $0.99) in Sparkin’ Apps’ slicing game could be, but I’ll cut to the chase: if you were disappointed that Halfbrick’s Fruit Ninja received a Puss in Boots edition instead of a Halloween edition, and don’t particularly care that the original slashing formula be improved upon, then this game will be of interest.

In its attempt to head off how quickly the bare-bones slicing mechanic wears off, Monster Warrior presents four modes of play. Arcade Mode lies at the game’s core, giving the player one minute to slice up as many goons as possible. All the expected trappings are there: temporary bonuses that slow down the action or make easily targetable goons pour in, a score punishment for striking rabbits, and combo bonuses for taking out multiple goons in the same swipe. Freestyle Mode takes the bunnies away and gives the player one minute and thirty seconds to swipe with reckless abandon. Survival Mode lets the player keep going until a failure condition is met — striking one rabbit or letting three goons fly past without being shredded. Task Mode asks the player to slash only specified goons.

All the different modes help pump up the amount of time Monster Warrior stays interesting, but the fact remains that only diehard slicing fans will manage to squeeze an hour or more out of it before growing bored. The slicing premise – and even game modes very similar to ones on offer here – were already so well mastered in Fruit Ninja that it’s impossible to play Monster Warrior without a powerful déjà vu setting in. There are two directions developers can go if they want to stand out from the slicing game that started it all: do as Halfbrick did with their own Puss in Boots and hit the “hyper” button on splattering mayhem, or go the Zombie Samurai route and build some meaty complexity around the central slashing mechanic.

Monster Warrior being so heavily dogged by comparisons to Fruit Ninja is a positive thing in one respect: like Halfbrick before them, Sparkin’ Apps did a sparkin’ good job with the game’s interface and overall polish. Never did I miss an intended swipe, the cute demon critters fall apart a few different ways depending on slash direction, and menu navigation occurs to the sound of “click” effects that I always find reassuring. That’s why I want to see this developer tackle something more complex in the future. Their technical mastery of iOS is clear; if a catchy new concept or an astounding evolution on an old one can just back up that skill, Sparkin’ Apps could really go places!


iFanzine VerdictFor better or worse, think of Monster Warrior as “Fruit Ninja in a Halloween getup.” It’s well-built on a technical level, but its conservative approach to the genre makes for a dull landing on your iDevice unless you’re a diehard genre fan looking for more of the same.