First look at Taiwan indie mobile game Monster Night
C. Custer | On September 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm
This article is part of our coverage of TGS 2013.
There’s something to be said for the rare games out there that are totally unique, but to be honest, a lot of my favorite games are actually mix-and-match jobs that take the best aspects of several different games and combine them into a cohesive whole. That’s probably the best way to describe Monster Night, the first offering from Taiwanese indie dev eHooray. The mobile game, which I took a look at running on an iPad at the eHooray booth at TGS, is a mash-up of Plants vs. Zombies, Pokemon, and old-school story-driven RPGs.
The basic gameplay is very similar to PvZ — eHooray GM Elric Tang is up front about this, and makes the comparison himself before I can — in that you place monsters onto a grid on the left side of the screen and they battle other monsters coming in from the right. The interface isn’t as pretty or as slick as PvZ, but there are some cool twists on the concept. Monster Night also has flying units that can battle it out on the top of the screen, above the ground. And monsters you defeat can be captured for use in your own army, Pokemon-style, or even combined with other monsters to craft more powerful creatures.
The monsters are based on creatures from Japanese and Chinese mythology, and the game itself is layered on top of a deep story that plays out between levels with JRPG-style cutscenes full of dialogue. The story is a serious part of the game; Tang tells me that his four-man team finished the game in just eight months (they outsourced the artwork), but that they could have finished it in six had he not put so much effort into creating a compelling and complex story.
The game, which currently only runs on iOS, has already been released in Taiwan and has been received well there, but it’s not available anywhere else just yet. Tang says eHooray has already signed deals with American and Japanese publishers, and says the game will probably come out in the US and Japan next month. It should also be coming to China, but Chinese publishers want an Android version, and eHooray doesn’t plan to work on an Android port until the iOS version has been released more widely. But the team already has implemented in-app payments so that the game (which is a paid app in Taiwan) can be adapted for monetization on the mainland.
Monster Night is eHooray’s first game, but the man team has years of experience in the gaming industry before they decided to strike out on their own, and among other things they had the connections to outsource the game’s artwork, allowing them to complete the game in just eight months. Although it’s not the best looking game I’ve ever seen, the cutscene art is very nice and it seems to run quite smoothly. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception it gets when it is released on a more global scale next month. If it can really meld the addictive gameplay of PvZ with the obsessive catch-em-all mindset of Pokemon and the compelling story of a good JRPG, it should have no trouble at all finding an audience.
Download Monster Night here on Taiwan’s App Store.
(Editing by Steven Millward and Paul Bischoff)