Consider it a tough day when you sneeze so hard that your very soul is hurled out of your body. Consider it even tougher when you learn the only way to get it back is to scare the various citizens of Monster Town. Sound like a fun game concept? It is, but that’s not this game. That’s Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove for Nintendo 3DS. This is Gabrielle’s Monster Match for iOS, a universal app match-style game that manages to retain the charm of its predecessor despite its more basic gameplay.
What is it?
Gabrielle’s Monster Match is another grid-based tapping game where you try to line up various icons in rows or columns of four to make them disappear. Unlike most games of this ilk, however, the board starts out largely empty here, with four more icons added each time you don’t set up a match. When the board fills up completely (or time runs out), you lose.
How does it work?
At the beginning of each level, you’re given your task: get a 2x combo in 60 seconds, remove seven icons at once in 90s seconds, etc. Some of the tasks can be quite difficult, while others are easily overcome, but all require a certain degree of strategy. You can move the icons pretty much anywhere on the screen provided the launch and/or landing squares are not blocked off.
To the right of the main grid is a column that shows the next four icons to hit the screen. Although you don’t know where on the grid they’ll land, you’ll at least know what they will be and can plan accordingly. If you manage to line up four similar icons, they will clear off and you’ll get to go again without having four more icons dumped on the grid. It’s therefore best to not focus on just one icon at a time. The more open you can be with your strategy, the longer you’ll be able to keep the board open.
Is it contagious?
Gabrielle’s Monster Match is cute fun, yes. The three game modes—Time Trial, Quest and Endless—will keep you playing after you’ve completed all the levels (only five of which are available in the free version). Although Monster Match doesn’t do much to further Gabrielle’s character or endear her to the player (you learn about her only through storybook pages that are unlocked as you complete levels), the charm of the design and music is carried through.
Fans of Gabrielle should enjoy the trip back to the familiar faces of Monster Town, even if the gameplay is radically different from its rhythm based predecessor. But you needn’t have any idea of who Gabrielle is to have fun with Monster Match. The puzzles are varied enough to keep things interesting, and challenging enough to make you feel rewarded upon completion.
Oh, but one boneheaded thing about the game; the ads remain even after you’ve paid for the full version. Not cool, Natsume…not cool at all.