I play dozens of mobile games a week, at least 24 percent of which are puzzle games. From block-matching to word games; physics puzzlers to good old Tetris clones—I've played them all. The last thing I expected to see in last week's crop of new games was a puzzler unlike anything I'd played before. If I'd paid closer attention to developer Ambient Studios' 'About Us' page I wouldn't have been surprised by Monster Meltdown's ingenuity at all.
Yuri is a janitor at a top-secret Russian lab, the sort of place where deadly monsters escape captivity and they send the custodian to take care of it. Poor Yuri is tasked with guiding 80 levels of man-hungry beasts to capture portals using nothing but his wits, cunning and cleaning skills.
Well, that and a teleportation device.
I love the idea of a world where teleportation is so commonplace that devices utilizing the tech are standard issue for custodial workers. While the scientists are off getting coffee (or maybe they were devoured, but I like the coffee idea), Yuri is popping in and out of existence, swapping places with creatures in order to ensure they not only enter glowing capture portals, but that they do so only after collecting all the strange energy motes on the screen. Capturing monsters, gathering motes and doing it using less than the allotted number of jumps—that's how you get three stars in Yuri's world.
Monster Meltdown is not a relaxing, half-heartedly poking at the screen sort of game. Players have to consider the behavior of the monster on screen—will it chase Yuri? Does it automatically start walking when the level begins? Then they have to figure out the most efficient means of getting monster A into portal B. Sometimes it's as simple as touching the monster and swapping places. Other levels require pinpoint precision and expert timing—'port to shaft of light as the monster passes, swap with monster, port above electrical hazard, swap again—all in the span of seconds. It's as much a strategy and action game as it is a puzzle game.
After playing all weekend I finally wandered over to the Ambient Studios website to see what was up. Aha, founded by folks from Media Molecule, creators of Sony's LittleBigPlanet. I imagine Media Molecule as a rapidly-spinning imagination engine, flinging off great gobs of ingenuity as it rotates. One of those gobs landed right here.
I mean that in a good way, if it helps.