By Eric Pankoke on Mon, 09/23/2013
I am not a huge fan of in-app-purchase (IAP) driven games, though that seems to be the way that even the big developers are going these days. A little over a year ago Big Blue Bubble released one called My Singing Monsters (Free), and despite my disdain for the freemium model I decided to give it a shot anyway. It’s one of the few such games that remain on my device to this day. I don’t spend hours a day with it simply because I don’t want to fall into the trap of dishing out more dough through IAP than I would if I went and bought a console game, for example, but I still enjoy pulling it up every once in a while and seeing how my monsters are doing. Besides, how could you not enjoy a group of fun-loving, goofy creatures that like to sing? It worked for the Muppets, after all…
You start with a barren island, and your job is to turn it into a thriving utopia of joyously singing creatures. To do this you must keep the creatures happy—whether that means giving them a place to stay, feeding them so they level up and provide more income, or putting them next to decorations or other creatures that they enjoy. There will also be several tasks for you to complete at any given moment that will earn you things like XP, coins, gems, or food. XP raises your level, which unlocks new things for you to play around with. Food is used to raise the creatures’ level so that they produce more money per minute and have a higher max for the money they can earn before you need to collect it from them. ems are used to buy new creatures, and coins buy most everything else. Gems, coins, and food are all available for purchase via IAP, and you can actually swap gems for coins if you’d like, though no other resource conversions are available.
Everything is tap and menu driven, though the menus are picture oriented so you needn’t fear that this looks like some sort of business application. At any time you can tap on an object that has been placed on your island and manipulate it in one of several ways—including flipping its direction, resizing it, and moving it when applicable. Another option is to look at the bio and likes screen when you have a creature selected, which can be useful when you decide where you want to place each creature and each decoration for maximum effectiveness. You even have the option of selling anything that you decide you don’t want any more, but don’t expect a return on investment for the creatures since you use gems to buy them and get back coins instead. As a whole it’s pretty easy to get around, but if you have a lot of items clumped together and you aren’t zoomed in enough it can be hard to select just the item you want to manipulate.
The game requires an internet connection to play, so you at least have to have WiFi available. Game Center and Facebook are used for inviting friends, and once you have friends that are actually playing the game you can visit their islands and vote for them (and vice versa). It would be nice if there were more social interaction, like maybe trading monsters or even having the ability to design and “sell” custom decorations to your friends. I’m not normally much into that sort of thing, but this game feels like it could use it. At least there are 17 different Game Center achievements you can work on, some of which will take some persistence to complete.
The visuals are great, but first I want to talk about the sound, since this is called My Singing Monsters. Music in games is always important to me anyway, but the way this game utilizes it is probably what keeps me coming back all the time. Each creature contributes to the overall makeup of the song for that island, and you can mute or adjust the volume of any creature as you see fit. Not only that, but as you scroll around an island you’ll notice that the monsters’ voices fade in and out based on their location. Finally, the same monster will make different sounds on different islands. To some of you this all might not seem like a big deal, but I’m quite impressed with how they’ve made it all fit together so smoothly. The visuals do a wonderful job creating an inviting atmosphere. The characters are extremely well designed and delightfully animated, and the whole thing looks great whether you’re zoomed in to the max or zoomed out so you can see the whole island at once.
Like most free-to-play games, you get out of this basically what you put into it. The truth is, though, that you can actually accomplish quite a bit before having to spend any money on the game. The main problem is that you’ll eventually run out of gems, which is the currency you need to get new monsters. While it would be nice to have some way to earn diamonds more steadily, even if it was at a really slow pace, it does seem like My Singing Monsters gives you more for nothing than your average F2P game. Besides, it’s just so much fun listening to the monsters, and the song just gets better with each new type of creature that you add.
Overall Score: 8/10