Seller: Bad Juju Games
Requirements: iOS 3.0 or better
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch (universal app)
File Size: 140MB
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Age Rating: 4+
Where can you find a broken-down spaceship, flying JujuBees, and a cast of oddball characters trying to collect one to fix the other? If you answered “in a totally addictive level-clearing, JujuBee-collecting, spaceship-part-buying game,” you would be absolutely right! (Really, where else would you expect to find them?) The Mooniacs follows a cast of ragamuffin characters on a quest; after their spaceship loses its cargo of JujuBees (little hovering orange blobs) and suffers a mechanical failure, it is up to you, the player, to help the Mooniacs round up their lost JujuBees and acquire the parts to repair the spaceship.
Players of Angry Birds will recognize the gameplay experience immediately. On each level, a Mooniac (Plink and Blube are our main charachters) is encased in a bubble from which they can be shot. Tap the Mooniac and drag to build tension, then release and watch ’em fly. The purpose of each level is to collect the hovering JujuBees using the flying Moooniac. Big JujuBees multiply your score by powers of two, so one big JujuBee doubles the score, while three will multiply your score by eight.
Each level presents new and exciting physical dynamics to overcome. There are grumpy-looking but oddly bouncy plants that act as springboards, moving platforms that can impede your flight path, sticky platforms that can guide you in complex paths, and even levels with wind that interact with the other gameplay elements like springboards to change where your Mooniac flies after being launched.
Despite the developer’s name of Bad Juju, The Mooniacs has some seriously good juju in the form of a well-done tutorial video that plays upon first launch, and is available thereafter through the Options menu. Simple arrow controls enable navigation through menus. A store feature allows the trading of collected jujubees for spaceships parts, which are needed for the repair of the Mooniacs’ ship (more on this storyline in a minute). The store also allows in-app purchases of more JujuBees (which start at 500 for $0.99).
Inside the game itself, two forms of help are available to the player. First, and easiest, is a dotted line showing the trajectory of the last shot; the game offers unlimited do-overs, and in fact rewards persistence with a special bonus when you try a single level more than 20 times. For those players with more spendthrift tendencies, it is also possible to buy hints in each level, with prices ranging from 500 to 5,000 JujuBees. The graphics on each level are simple but engaging, though the soundtrack is short and repetitive and can be irritating for long periods of time.
The Mooniacs is a game that is technically well done and addictively fun to play. Its only disadvantage is a slightly messy game/menu/storyline interaction—the fixing of Plink’s spaceship requires trading JujuBees for parts, but it is entirely possible to play through the included 100 levels without collecting enough JujuBees to affect repairs, at which point the game simply ends in the credits and dumps the player back at the main menu. Accessing the JujuBee trading console is done through the main menu, rather than in-game, so it does not feel like an intrinsic part of the storyline. This gives the impression that buying more JujuBees (and forking out more cash) is the way to win the game, rather than actually playing it.
For some challenging but fun alien slinging, The Mooniacs is a solid winner. With rich graphical details, complicated levels, and a cast of characters who are nothing less than adorable, the game is a solid bit of entertainment. The minor structural problems in the overall game are not enough to distract from the enjoyable and exciting gameplay experience. The challenge of collecting JujuBees and trading for various ship gear, combined with the briskness and ability to post triumphs in the game to Facebook, make the Mooniacs a game definitely worth considering.