Monster Busters is a match-3 puzzler that challenges players to work their way through stages of increasing difficulty in order to save Gingerbreads from the grasps of cartoonish monsters. Matching three or more monsters makes them disappear, and larger matching combinations result in more powerful monster-busting effects. Monster Busters uses an in-game coin-based reward system, offering chunks of change for daily sign-ins and successful completion of stages. Players are able to buy lives and boosts with the coins they earn in the game, but are also able to purchase more coins through the Google Play and iTunes App stores using real currency. While the game prompts players to connect to their Facebook profiles, users are able to play Monster Busters without doing so, though the game does require a WiFi connection. As with most free-to-play games, frequent prompts to purchase the game when using the free version can be a slight annoyance, and in-app purchases are available. That being said, Monster Busters more than makes up for this in being engaging, rewarding, and substantial. With the option to work through literally hundreds of levels alone or compete against friends, Monster Busters is a good match for kids age 8 and older.
With Monster Busters’ fun graphics, bright colors, and satisfying effects, it’s tempting to start “busting” monsters and collecting Gingerbreads immediately. As the game progresses, however, and the levels get more and more challenging, players quickly find that a little time thinking ahead can help them avoid wasting time or moves, preserve their limited lives, and earn them more stars and points. Different matching combinations make more powerful detonations and cause chain reactions, and the further the game progresses, the more often it becomes necessary to rely on these larger combinations to complete the objectives of the level. The more familiar players become with the mechanics of the game, the easier it is to recognize when monsters are lining up just right for those big specials. Practicing restraint and predicting how disappearing monsters will change the game board and affect a player’s ability to make future combinations can not only result in more points but actually be necessary to make it through a level.
Whether a player runs out of moves, time, or fails to save all the Gingerbreads in a particular level, defeat will happen—often—in this game. Defeat in Monster Busters, however, doesn't mean "game over." Players have a set number of lives, and lose one per failure, but these lives can be replenished with time or a trade of game (or real) currency, providing ample opportunities to learn from mistakes and improve on strategies. Players can complete a stage with a performance rating of one through three stars, and certain stages offer bonus Hero Challenges for a 3-star completion, so the opportunity to achieve perfection is always present but never necessary. There are five hundred stages in the game, housed within episodes of 20 stages each. Each episode has a theme obstacle—ice blocks, time bombs, infectious storm clouds, shield blockades—requiring players to be deliberate and controlled in their approach, understanding and controlling impulses and evaluating successes as well as failures.
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