Monolist


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PsychotronicMonolistMonolist, from Japanese developer (or possibly super-powered spy team) Polygon Gmen, is what you would get if you took classic Space Invaders gameplay, multiplied it by three, strained it through a net made of Arkanoid bonus drops, and then sprinkled in nine hundred million bullets. Like a recreational energy drink, it's cool, refreshing, burning sweet, and highly caffeinated.

The aliens, played here by a cast of nefarious transparent squares, are attacking simultaneously on three separate planes! Three separate planes! Three separate planes! It will behoove you to repel them with your nine hundred million bullets, because if any one of those three squadrons reaches the ground, you gonna get all 'splodey.

Move [left] and [right] with the appropriate arrow keys. Press [up] to jump onto the next plane into the screen, and [down] to flip the other way. Press [P] to pause the game. You will fire automatically, but if you want to try out a policy of appeasement, you can hold [space] to stop shooting. Good luck with that.

Your enemies will not return fire, but they will drop triangular bonuses as you destroy them. Collecting these grants you temporary firepower upgrades, though some are significantly more useful than others. Hint: the dark blue one is your best friend, but you may want to avoid the purple one till you know what you're doing.

The warning monitor in the lower right informs you if an enemy squadron on any battlefront is approaching too close to your precious earthsoils. For better or for worse, these warnings are not accompanied by a cacophony of alarm sirens, so stay alert.

Analysis: We'll be sure to keep an eye on Polygon Gmen, not just because they might be supervillains working undercover, but because they have an obvious knack for putting modern twists on a time-honored gameplay foundation. Monolist is simple and chaotic enough to be played by anyone, but a super-taut combo-based scoring system gives it the depth it needs to appeal to all you turbo-charged space ninjas out there.

The minimalist graphics could be more interesting, perhaps, but when you grab the blue triangle and lay waste to that tiny little screen with 5 concurrent streams of bursting particle mayhem, you'll appreciate the readability of simple shapes.

The Polygon Gmen (...assemble!) know that the great 2D shooters were all about crowd control and time management. Enemy formations often include a string of outliers, so that an observant defender can quickly cripple their rate of descent by stripping those limbs. On later waves, when particularly motivated formations attack with enthusiastic speed, your tactical plan will be just as valuable as your reflexes.

In one of the few strikes against Monolist, the collision detection between your ship and the power-ups is awkward; only the nose of your ship can make the pickup. Also, you can simply leave off the side of the screen if you want to. Normally, I would call that sloppy programming, but it's such a suicidal thing to do in this case, I prefer to think of it simply as a doomed exit strategy.

Play Monolist

8 Comments

Best twist on the old space invaders I think I've ever seen. I'll definitely be coming back to this one every now and then.

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"Best twist on the old space invaders I think I've ever seen."

This is probably the best way to describe the game.

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The first link in the article is broken, (in the Atlas voice) would you kindly fix the link?

[Fixed! Thanks. -Psychotronic]

I loved the amazing amount of polish in this game. The author obviously has a knack for making a complete package in a simple game. Even the high score system is something to admire. As for the minimalism... I think it works. As a throwback to Invaders it seems appropriate.

I got to level 37 before yellow line destroyed me. Great game.

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Super epic game! I love it. And I made the high score list on my second game - yay! :P

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I know some consider me already a real pessimist, and well although this is an interesting idea, I don't think it's some real gain. First as multiply the game by playing x games at the same time is an already taken idea, and I never liked it too much as for me it just means additional stress while playing but not additional fun. You could just as well stack 3 pacmans over each other or 3 tetrises. Okay they might not work so well, since you would die too fast... but the principle its more less just X*3. Second at least in this game, I developed the tactic of just leaving one brick standing in 2 layers and play in one layer, only when that brick gets close to the bottom, you switch to that layer, delete it and remove everything but the top brick, then back to the main layer.

So for me the game experience was (playing it without reading the review at first I must confess, I always read them after experiencing some myself)
phase 1: boring yet another a space invaders.
phase 2: exited! This isn't actually background, this is new layers!
phase 3: back to boring again, can be player well by just ignoring the other layers 95% of the time.

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I got to 57 before I died, pretty fun for a couple minutes.

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@fuzzyface

While that strategy might keep you alive longer, it won't do much good at getting you into the high scores table, since so many of the points are based on long combos of hits.

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This game is a good example of gameplay that engages without the need for cutting edge graphics. Its a pure arcade-style game. You start playing and have the concept mastered in a few seconds. And although the game doesn't progress much beyond that simple concept, something compels you to keep playing. There's an addictive quality to this game, and that makes it an example of a good gameplay mechanic (albeit an old mechanic with a new twist).

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