Monster Dash Hands-On Preview

Looking back at our meeting with Halfbrick Studios at GDC in March, we couldn’t predict the huge success that was coming their way. At the time, Halfbrick had just released Blast Off, an unimpressive physics game that only once broke the Top 100. They were also working on something new to be released a month later: a little game called Fruit Ninja. One million downloads of Fruit Ninja later, and we’re paying much closer attention to what comes next from Halfbrick. This time, it’s a game called Monster Dash.

There’s no denying Halfbrick is on a roll, and Monster Dash is an interesting follow-up for the Australian developer. Monster Dash is a high-score running game like Canabalt, but with a combative twist that makes it a little more interactive. As you run through the auto-scrolling levels, tapping the left side of the screen to jump over gaps and spikes, you’ll also encounter some classic movie monsters.

These include mummies in the Egypt level, vampires in the Transylvania level, zombies in the Metropolis level, and so on. You can either jump on an enemy to crush it, or tap the right side of the screen to fire a shotgun. You’ll also find weapon powerups, like an electricity gun or a sweet machine gun jetpack that perforates anything on the ground while you hover above.

Like in Fruit Ninja, you can take three hits before the game is over (though falling means instant death), so games can actually last a bit longer than in Canabalt. Every 1000 meters, your character will teleport to a different location with new monsters, but he still always seems to be in a hurry.

Also like in Fruit Ninja, you’re rewarded with a pithy quotation when you lose, which takes the sting out a little, and stats will record the minutiae of your collected runs. OpenFeint achievements are also included.

Will Monster Dash replicate the astonishing success of perpetual Top 10 Fruit Ninja? We’re not sure, since both high-score running games and monster shoot ‘˜em ups are pretty common on the App Store. But Monster Dash is a fun pick up and play game with cute graphics, a simple concept, and tight controls, so we’ll have to wait and see if lightning strikes twice for Halfbrick.