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Monsters vs. Aliens Package Art
Griptonite Games

Monsters vs. Aliens

Where there is smoke, there is fire, and where there is a computer generated kids movie, there is almost undoubtedly a video game tie-in. Unfortunately, said games also tend to be sorely lacking when it comes to quality and strive for little more than mediocrity. Monsters vs. Aliens for Nintendo DS makes little effort to buck this trend.

Everything about it feels half there; the groundwork for a decent game obviously exists, but no effort is made to realize that potential. All that gamers are left with is yet another unimpressive movie tie-in game that is bound to leave plenty of people disappointed.


Like many of Activision’s DS titles, Monsters vs. Aliens uses a very capable 3D engine that, at the very least, makes the game decent to look at. The game’s five playable characters are rendered and animated, especially B.O.B., the transparent blue blob who moves exactly as you would expect a gelatinous monster to. Many of the levels are also rendered nicely, but they ultimately suffer from repetitive and unoriginal art design. Also, the presentation takes a hit from the between-level cut scenes, which range from grainy still images to awkwardly framed and animated uses of the in-game graphics.


Even though its music is completely forgettable, Monsters vs. Aliens has a strong audio presentation thanks to superb voice acting. The film's cast, which includes the like of Seth Rogen and Hugh Laurie, either continue their excellent performances on the handheld or the developers were able to find incredibly good sound-a-likes. Unfortunately for the actors, the script they were given is highly inconsistent, with too few quality laughs and plenty of awkward duds that feel out of place or are just plain unfunny.


The set up for Monsters vs. Aliens is fairly simple: a group of monsters hidden away from the public are called forth by the government to fight off an alien invasion. There is probably a moral or two thrown in from the movie, but they are completely lost in the game as the story is rushed through and none of the characters are really given a solid background. While the rest of the game avoids this lack of attention to detail, it still makes no attempt to strive for excellence.

Each of the game’s five characters has somewhat unique gameplay. Ginormica, the super tall girl and main character, has two varieties of levels. First is a standard platformer with obstacles to avoid and enemies to beat up; these areas are by-the-book and overall the controls feel a little imprecise when compared to genre standouts like classic Mario and Sonic titles. For her other style of play, Ginormica wears cars like roller-skates and travels down a linear track, while the gamer steers her left and right with the touch screen and makes her jump and duck with the face buttons. These levels are greatly hindered by a sloppy implementation of touch controls.

Two of the other characters, B.O.B. and Missing Link, have levels that are quite similar in design. While these characters also feature side-scrolling platforming, they have the ability to climb on walls and ceilings and their levels generally feature more exploration. As for differences between the two, the only major thing is Missing Link has more combat moves, so his levels offer more enemies to beat up. Also, in keeping with Ginormica’s problems, the controls for both B.O.B. and Missing Link suffer from a small yet annoying amount of imprecision.


The fourth character, Insectosaurus, has the simplest stages of all. The humongous bug simply starts on one side of a city and the gamer controls him as he smashes his way through buildings and enemies on the way to the other side. The final character, Dr. Cockroach, is probably the most enjoyable because his levels are, in fact, puzzles with a simple yet enjoyable premise: use the touch screen to rearrange a series of mirrors so that a laser is reflected to hit every node on a grid. The difficulty for these puzzles is quite inconsistent, with the hardest puzzles showing up half way through the game, thus making the later areas far too easy.

Okay, so none of this sounds too bad, but here’s the rub-– you would be lucky to squeeze three hours out of Monsters vs. Aliens. Even though there are a fair number of stat upgrades and unlockables to acquire, there are enough of the items needed to purchase them in each level that one play-through is enough to unlock the majority. Also, the only worthwhile unlockables are extra Dr. Cockroach puzzles, but they are not too difficult and there is little reason to play through them more than once.




Monsters vs. Aliens is rather impressive in its ability to be completely unimpressive. Aside from the short length and complete lack of replay value, nothing about the game is necessarily abysmal. Much of the gameplay is completely run of the mill and its few strengths, the graphics and voice acting, are cut down to mediocrity by a general lack of imagination and effort. Generally mediocrity can be overlooked a little bit in games so obviously targeted to younger children, but the inexcusable lack of content ultimately makes Monsters vs. Aliens less than the sum of its parts. Remember, for the price of this game you could go see the movie three times, and that would give you an extra hour or two of material over the game.

final score 5.0/10

Staff Avatar Andy Hoover
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"There's SAND on my boots!"

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