Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake – Developer Summary
As so many of these things do, it all begins on a magical island. In this case, Gogapoe Island, a place populated by both humans and monsters. What starts out as a mission to get back Niko’s birthday cake becomes a quest for the fate of Gogapoe itself. But, ya know, cake is still super important, too!
Oodles of friendly monsters will join Niko’s quest and use their kooky powers to help him explore the island, solve puzzles, demolish obstacles, and just generally humiliate enemies. Hordes of evil monsters will cause mayhem and generally be jerkfaces, but that’s nothing you can’t fix with headbutts, frost breath, stink clouds and rainbow barf.
What We Think:
Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake radiates innocent charm from the moment you boot up the game. Bright colors and light-hearted humor are the order of the day in this puzzle/adventure title which puts you in the shoes of a young boy named Niko. It’s Niko’s birthday and monsters have had the gall to steal his birthday cake. Naturally, Niko embarks on an adventure to reclaim his lost food.
The game opens with Niko waking up in his home and discovering the titular crime. The opening area in the game is a small town which can be explored in classic top-down RPG style. Secrets are dotted around the town and many of its occupants will give you quests to find unique items for them. You can revisit the town at any time to hand in quests and check for changes.
Outside of town you’ll find a world map with several areas that can be traveled through in a linear path. Accessing an area reveals a more local map showing individual levels that can be worked through. Each level is a puzzle requiring you to find multiple pieces of cake. Various obstacles bar your way ranging from spike barriers to rivers and enemy monsters. In order to get past these obstacles you’ll need the help of a few friends.
As your adventure progresses you’ll gain many allies; benevolent monsters who will help you in your quest. Each monster has a unique skill which can be used to overcome a particular kind of obstacle. One, for example, can freeze rivers to make them passable while another can shatter crystals blocking your way with a high pitched scream. Many of these powers have more than one use, forcing you to think carefully about which tool would be the best solution to a problem. Up to four characters are available in a level and using them all effectively makes up a big part of the gameplay.
The puzzles themselves start out feeling ludicrously easy, but over time the difficulty begins to ramp up. This is clearly a game targeted at younger players and so it’s understandable that the difficulty curve is a little on the gentle side. That said, some players may find it takes a while for the game to become challenging.
A Slice of Retro
As you progress, side areas will be unlocked with new puzzles, shops and side quests. You’ll occasionally meet new characters who will ask you for a specific item to unlock the path beyond them. These can usually be found either on your adventures or in town. Sometimes you may have to buy items from the shops in order to progress. This adds an enjoyable retro-inspired adventure mechanic that hails back to old school RPGs.
The visuals on display under the bell-jar that is Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake, are as colorful and delicious looking as their title suggests. The monster animations are generally enjoyable to watch and while the basic top-down design may not be for everyone, it is definitely pleasing to the eye. The music is also well conceived, providing an appropriately relaxing backdrop to the cutesy action – an island-inspired pan-pipey affair reminiscent of early N64 titles.
Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is a very well designed adventure/puzzler with enjoyable game-play and some humorous dialogue that should get at least a smile out of even the most cynical gamer. While the difficulty curve and aesthetic lend themselves to a younger audience Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake still offers a charming adventure for those looking for a few good puzzles.