Mobile devices across the globe are running hundreds of virtual pet-raising, freemium app toting, cutesy sims right now, and for good reason: they’re addictive! Montopia, however, seems to be the opposite of such. It’s Zynga Japan’s big move to compete with Pokemon and other monster sims. It’s an ambitious goal to be sure, but Pokemon’s a heavy hitter. And from what we’ve seen of Montopia, the original pocket monsters really have nothing to worry about.
Montopia may look and sound like its inspiration or one of its many imitators, but it’s actually a collectible card game riddled with bugs, loading issues, and pointless grinding that just couldn’t hold our attention. You’re tasked with collecting all the monsters in a bid to resurrect Montopia, crawling with tons of the little buggers. The monster utopia needs your help to return to its former glory, and it’s up to you, a fledgling monster trainer, and a childhood friend named Milly to accomplish this. Milly acts as both a helping hand and guiding beacon full of great advice and tutorials for you, much like Professor Oak.
You’re my best friend and you don’t even know?
Visual similarities and number of monsters aside, though, there isn’t much here to connect Montopia to other monster training games, except perhaps Monster Rancher Battle Card GB or Digimon’s original card game. You’ll make your way across several locations, pick up loot from the treasure chests (or monsters if you’re lucky) and this is all governed by your health points. Think of them as stamina that regulates how far you can travel and how long you can play. As you gain more levels you can earn more ability points with which you can use to level up health points and other aspects of your character.
Leveling up allows you to play longer and level up quicker, but you can’t focus on any one part of your character development, so it’s prudent to ensure you pay close attention to stats like defense and attack, which translate to your monsters performing better in battle. In this, it’s a bit strange — you seem to focus more on leveling than acquiring new monsters or doing anything truly beneficial to this Montopia that’s deemed so important.
Bizarre as that is, there is actually more to do aside from leveling up and allotting points to different abilities. Like any monster collecting game worth its salt, you’re forced to compete in battles with other trainers using the monsters you’ve acquired. These bottles (as well as the game as a whole) are simple to figure out but aren’t particularly interesting or entertaining, and there’s little information in-game aside from tutorials to aid in explaining pieces of the puzzle you may still be unclear on.
Other players are integral to the experience, and while you don’t always have to approach them for battles, co-op “fusion” (taking pieces or monsters from other players and combining them) is actually quite helpful and may be used to create new monsters and more powerful abilities through others’ cards.
Our Monsters Are Differentâ„¢
Montopia is simple stuff to be sure, but it’s not captivating in the least. Battles play out more in terms of who has the higher level card and you do little to explore the world other than tap here and there mainly in a linear area to collect loot and monsters. You can spend MonstaCash for augments and powerups to make the process smoother and a little quicker, but it all feels like a waste of time once you consider what you’re actually grinding for. It doesn’t feel rewarding or fun after the first few hours, and that’s if you aren’t particularly perturbed by the monster designs and how close everything seems to have been created to Pokemon, right down to the app icon that showcases the three adorable monsters. We’ve seen them before, haven’t we?
Aside from obvious stylistic and mechanical issues, there’s a large amount of slowdown, graphical errors, and freezing to contend with — just a whole bushel of issues really, with little redeeming factors to make pressing onward worth your while.
Montopia looks like it may be up your monster-collecting alley, but we would advise against it if you’re looking for an adventure more robust than taps here and there, new monsters, or the occasional co-op fusion that doesn’t add many new discernible cool features to the game. There are better sims out there that work much better with your valuable free time, and if you’re really wanting to raise monsters, there are plenty of other options.