Platform games are a staple genre that has been with us for many a generation. Jump on platforms, avoid pits, jump on enemies to defeat them, maybe even jump onto a flagpole for good measure. Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess is chock full of platforms, but is nothing like a platformer. Instead, it’s more like a race, as The Duke must catch up to and defeat the monster that (probably) stole his princess in each level. An extremely simple concept, to be sure, but with a character as awesome and egotistical as The Duke, surely the game will be nothing short of The Duke’s level of epicness, right?
Gameplay is simple yet elegant. Your goal is to defeat the monster making its way upwards through the level, while jumping on as many platforms as you can. Tap the X button to make The Duke jump up, and X again to make him double jump. Jumping against the sides of the screen will let him cling to the side for a second, where he can then jump twice more from. Pushing down on the D-Pad will make The Duke fast fall, which is good for landing on platforms beneath his current location or for simply landing sooner. Attacking the monsters requires only a double-jump into it, and each monster is defeated after three hits.
Challenge in this game comes from the scoring system, which awards you an increasing number of points for each platform you jump onto without touching a platform you have previously landed on. As you jump from platform to platform, your combo meter builds up, which will let you unleash progressively stronger and flashier finishing moves on the monster once it is defeated. It is possible to land on every single platform and defeat the monster before it escapes, so players who like this arcade style of gameplay will be honing their craft, going for that all-elusive perfect score. For those who are not shooting for perfection, there are gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded in every level, as well as in-game trophies awarded for accomplishing certain feats.
There are two gameplay modes: Story and Score Attack. Story is an extremely short mode; it should take no more than an hour or two to beat the six worlds available. Score Attack lengthens the game a few more hours by adding three new stages to each world. Even with these additions, playing through Monsters is a very short experience, diminishing its value to those who are not obsessed with perfection. However, those perfectionists will find a great challenge in maxing out their score in all of the stages offered, and the gameplay behind it is solid enough to make it a great experience.
Presentation is what makes this game more than your run-of-the-mill Mini. The graphics are vibrant and cartoony to go along with the silly nature of the game’s humor. The music borrows some famous classical music tracks played on the organ, which sound appropriate given The Duke’s vampire-like appearance and laughter. Together they combine to create a distinct, appealing, Transylvanian atmosphere which keeps you interested in the game even when you’re failing to get to that hard-to-reach platform or falling just short of the gold medal.
Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess is the classic example of a game where you get out what you’re willing to put in. If you just play the story mode to completion, you may wonder what’s so good about this game. However, if you invest the time and effort into perfecting your jumping abilities there is plenty of fun to be had here. All of that makes Monsters one of the best Minis currently available and certainly worth your attention.