Friendship is a beautiful thing, especially when you've found the perfect friends. You know the ones, those who are there to lift you out of a blue mood with a smile, those who let you know you're not alone, those who make you feel like you belong. Monsterz: Chainz of Friendz, submitted by Jean Privat for CGDC9, reminds us of the joys of friendship which seemingly are just as important to monsters...I mean monsterz.
In this simply presented puzzle game, use your mouse to form chainz between monsterz of the same color. To form chainz, select the monster type from the menu to the right of the screen then either click on individual squarez, or click and drag to create chainz. The expressionz on the monsterz facez say it all; Monsterz that are not part of a chain have sad, lonely facez, partly constructed chainz show monsterz with relatively neutral facez, while monsterz who are connected in a full, but not necessarily correctly laid out chain, will exhibit expressionz of joy. But monsterz who have more than two neighborz of their own kind will feel overcrowded and will subsequently have angry expressionz, so chainz cannot cross over and must be in a single line.
Hover your cursor over the menu options and a brief explanation will appear underneath the monsterz grid. For example, the splash icon is an eraser which will remove mosterz from the grid if you wish to rework a chain, although you can simply reclick on a monster to delete if it's already selected in the menu. The game is automatically saved so you can continue from where you last played, or you can clear the saved data to start the entire game from the beginning. There are two ways that levels can be solved; simply connect all the monsterz on the grid, or to gain a gold score for each level add the maximum number of monsterz to par the levelz. Each and every monster must be part of a chain. The ability to see the par number for each level is unlocked after successfully completing level five. On completing level ten, the level editor is unlocked allowing you to create your own levelz.
Analysis: Monsterz: Chainz of Friendz may look familiar to many. Jean Privat openly discloses that he borrowed the images and music from a game called Monsterz which was created by Sam Hocevar back in 2005 and whom made the game freely available for redistribution and modification. While it's great to be mindful of recycling, it's a bit of shame that Jean's game is not original in its presentation. This may be a reason why Monsterz: Chainz of Friendz didn't score as highly as Jean had hoped, but it still made it into the top ten games of CGDC 9, and it's not hard to see why with all the positive feedback from you, the invaluable members of the Jay Is Games community. Without a doubt Jean has created a monstrously fun game that adheres strongly to CDGC 9's "Friends" theme.
In terms of gameplay, the mechanic is fairly smooth with only slight awkwardness in selecting and de-selecting monsterz for adding and removing to the game board. The difficulty curve is just right, starting out with some really easy puzzles and finishing with five challenge levels that can only be completed by achieving par for each level.
This is the kind of game that really gets you thinking, as you try to work out how the heck those monsterz can be connected. You may be a strategic forward thinker and plan your moves based on the placement of monsterz already on the grid, or you may be a trial-and-error type player creating chainz only to erase them just as quickly. Either way, there will be moments when a solution is suddenly crystal clear and you'll experience that wonderful feeling of self-satisfaction that only a challenging casual game can provide.
The beauty of Casual Gameplay Design Competitions is the interaction between game developers and the Jay is Games community. Jean responded to comments from the JiG community and implemented suggestions quickly, so it can be said that this final version of Monsterz: Chainz of Friendz is a true collaborative effort, and one of the appealing aspects of the game, the monsterz' expressive faces, is a result of that collaboration. And when a game developer really listens and responds the way Jean has, those games find their way into our favorites.
So next time you're feeling a little lonely, spare a thought for the monsterz who without your help would otherwise remain sad and disconnected, and spend time playing Monsterz: Chainz of Friendz. Guaranteed you'll feel rewarded for playing, even if it's just to see those little monsterz' faces light up with joy.