It might sound like a '50s creature feature (or a National Enquirer headline), but Monsters Ate My Condo is actually the latest title from Adult Swim, currently carving itself a niche in the mobile market by smartly teaming with talented developers to create humorous games for portable devices.
Its latest title sees it partner with PikPok, creator of, among others, the majestic Flick Kick Football - and it’s another triumph. Indeed, with a greater focus on gameplay over comedy, it might be the network’s most accomplished App Store release to date.
You begin with a tower of different condos, and your task is to stack up three or more like-coloured residences by sliding others out from the pile.
Every match generates a shiny condo, and they increase in value as they’re matched – three bronze condos create a silver one, three silvers make gold, and a trio of golden homes produces a rare diamond.
This would be a simple task were it not for the presence of monsters on either side of the tower. Feed them condos that match their colour and they’ll be happy, but give them too many of a different hue and they’ll fly into a rage, causing the stack to shake. If the condos fall, it’s Game Over.
Yet the monsters can also help you with their special powers, activated by feeding them a shiny condo. Boat Head the crab sings a lullaby which slows time and prevents monsters from getting angry, while Reginald Starfire, a blue unicorn, straightens the tower.
Mr Shigoto, a lederhosen-sporting mutant, creates two blocks for every combo. Finally, there’s Lord Ferocious, a dog in formaldehyde whose brain powers a giant mech suit (yes, really). He offers a 10x multiplier for every point-scoring action.
To further complicate matters, there are concrete condos, which can only be removed by making a match around or beside them. Ticking bomb condos, which can seriously unsettle the stack, must be disposed of in a similar manner – and quickly.
There’s an elegant risk-reward system at work here, as you juggle the importance of matching shiny condos to massively increase your score (just watch it shoot up as you earn more diamonds) with the need to maintain the tower’s structural integrity.
Feed a monster a shiny condo and you’ve potentially lost a chain, but if it temporarily keeps your tower from toppling (as well as keeping said creature sweet) then it’s often worth the sacrifice.
It all proves surprisingly tactical and means that, despite just two game types and one of those (the frantic Time Attack) over in two minutes, it bears its repetitive nature.
Elsewhere, the polished but very busy presentation both helps and hinders. It’s a bright, attractive, and well-animated game, but the visual fuss can occasionally make the action a little confused. With so much going on it’s easy to miss crucial cues.
The other issue is one exacerbated on a smaller screen. Chunky digits, like the ones belonging to this reviewer, are unsuited to precision removal, meaning that it’s all too easy to slide the wrong condo out, or to leave one dangling, fatally unbalancing the tower.
But these are minor complaints – Monsters Ate My Condo is another characterful and thoroughly engaging creation from Adult Swim with a force of personality that could brighten anyone’s daily commute.