I was drawn to take a quick peek at Eidos' Monster Lab because of the clever character design art mural all around the play area. The game has you enlisting the aid of three mad scientists, each with a different specialty, to try and take down one ultimate scientist who's mastered all three abilities — alchemy, biology, and one that seems more mechanically-oriented. It's on Wii and DS, but I saw the Wii version.

Monster Lab has the player building creatures and exploring a cartoonishly eerie supernatural land to collect parts to build and strengthen monsters to fight other monsters. As players progress through the narrative, they'll be able to enlist the help of each mad scientist to build new items and reach new areas.


So it's a bit collection and construction, a bit combat, and a bit story-based exploration — a pretty clever core idea with a cool aesthetic.

The Eidos rep had built a patchwork Frankenstein of a creature with tree roots for legs and a big mechanical arm, and he walked this creature through a spooky town back to the monster lab to combine some parts he'd found into a new chain saw arm for his creature. Different parts' attributes combine for different results — though you never know what you'll get when you mix things together, once you've successfully created something, it's added to your recipe list.

Creating an item successfully requires completing a mini-game; this one saw the rep using the Wii remote like a soldering iron, filling a scrolling, twisty maze with molten metal while it quickly scrolled past. The quality of the item you produce and the boost it provides to your monster's attributes depends on how well you perform at the mini-games.

Once you've created a part, you can assemble a fighting creature and head out on the town. You'll be able to walk up to roaming enemies to engage in turn-based combat with them, and the enemy monsters are juiced up with custom parts just as much as you are. That's why it's a good idea to pick your target on the enemy's body — knock off their weaponry and you'll have an easier time of things.


The combat was pretty kooky — once the rep had knocked off both of the enemy's attacking arms, it was able to rather desperately go on fighting with kicks from its two legs, or by head-butting or biting.

This game is aimed a bit at the younger folk, but the diversity of things to do, marriage of multiple elements, and the cool aesthetic seems to indicate older players looking for a creative third-party Wii title might enjoy checking it out.

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