“Oh look, it’s Angry Birds again.”
That would be a perfectly justifiable reaction to seeing the mechanics of Monkey Quest: Thunderbow, the latest creation to come out of Nickelodeon and Viacom International. However, to write it off as such might be just a little hasty, given what this version brings to the table.
This download from the App Store is based, at least to some degree, on the Monkey Quest massively multiplayer online game found at MonkeyQuest.com. And while it is not necessary in the least to have any familiarity with that game (we certainly don’t), there’s a benefit for those who do. Not only will those who have registered for the MMO find that they can import their own custom monkey from that game into this one, but success in Thunderbow yields rewards there as well.
Mining for monkeys.
The premise of this game is that you are Thunderbow, “a monkey on a mission of mayhem.” Your goal is to dethrone a sinister feline overlord by the name of Zotan, and achieving victory means killing everything in sight. In order to do this, you must fire Thunderbow’s (or your chosen monkey’s) explosive arrows across the landscape, blowing up chunks of it and crushing your foes beneath the rubble. Naturally, these arrows come in a variety of types, including straight rockets, fragmentary explosives, bombs which go off when you touch the screen for timed explosives, and so on.
So as we said…Angry Birds. Not exactly the “one of a kind” game it boasts on iTunes, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to enjoy here.
Despite the similarity in its core gameplay, there is still more to enjoy if poultry vs. pigs is too cartoonish for you. Monkey Quest: Thunderbow has more of a kids’ action-cartoon sort of vibe, which makes sense, coming from Nickelodeon and all. Plus, it has a pretty cool rock soundtrack going for it, though it doesn’t play during most levels. Even so, we love hearing the victory rift each time– it really helps make you feel like a little bit of a badass as your monkey yells in triumph.
Progression is a bit regulated, however. There are five themed areas (of which only three are currently available), each comprised of ten levels, and each of those levels has three bananas to collect. A certain number of these bananas must be collected in order to move on to the next area, making replay more of a necessity than an option for perfectionists.
However, completing each area opens a level of the bonus Zombie Oasis area. These levels are one-shot deals, in that you only have one arrow to destroy every enemy in the stage through a chain reaction. Doing so tends to net you an extra three bananas, which can be a benefit if you’re a few short of moving on to the next regular area.
There are some problems with the game, however, mainly in regards to the aiming and firing of arrows. While you can zoom out to see the full stage at one time, it’s more difficult to get the full power of your arrows in this view. Sometimes arrows will go off before you want them to as you attempt to find the proper trajectory, and even when you do, the arrows don’t always manage to follow the arc the dotted course outlines for you. It’s not game-breaking, and these issues can be overcome through trying and trying again if need be, but it can be irritating at times, particularly when that last arrow makes the difference between victory and defeat.
All said, Monkey Quest: Thunderbow may not be the most original game out there, at least in terms of gameplay mechanics. It does present them in a rather appealing package, and overall does it pretty well. And if you already play the Monkey Quest MMO, then the bonuses tied in to Thunderbow are a nice touch as well.