Monster Bark: The Ultimate Monster-Maze Puzzle Adventure. Any game with a tagline that boastful had better be a good game... and it looks like Joey Betz has done it again. The game stars Bark, a lovable floppy dog whose toys and friends have all been stolen into a dimensional portal to a world of monsters. He, being a brave dog, jumps in to retrieve them. He roams the world using the [arrow] or [WASD] keys, avoiding monsters and collecting toys. As he rescues his companions, he gets their aid as well in solving the fiendish puzzles this world has to offer. Switch control among them by pressing [1-5] or by clicking their portraits.
Bark's friends all have special abilities that can be used with [spacebar]. Charlie, the Tough Kid, can jump over holes and push small boxes; Darcy, the Screamer, can tiptoe past sleeping monsters without alerting them and scream her lungs out to stun monsters and activate certain switches; Ed, the Heavy Kid, can smash large blocks with a sort of rolling dash and hold down pressure switches by standing on them; Floyd, the Nerd, can slip through narrow passages and fix broken wires. (In case you're wondering about Bark himself, he can duck under low arches and has the fastest movement speed of the five.)
Analysis: If I were to describe my dream puzzle game, it would be something like Monster Bark. Just about everything in it is done right. The characters are so full of personality, thanks to the artwork of Adam Vian, from Darcy's nervous swaying idle stance to Ed's pompous walk to the cute but useless bark Bark does when you press space, and the groovy but appropriate music just makes me want to get up and do a little monster dance.
The "switch between multiple playable characters with different abilities to help each other through the stage" gimmick is one that's been around since a certain trio of vikings got abducted by aliens back in the SNES days, if not longer, and if done right, such as it is here, it makes for some very clever puzzles. Personally it's one of my favorite gimmicks, and you can really see how the puzzles are designed around it as you play. The game is also relatively light on Sokoban-style block puzzles, which is lucky if you find those games tedious.
The only serious fallacy the game has is with the controls. Controlling Bark and co. is like driving a car on an icy road; sometimes they won't respond immediately when you press, switch, or release the keys. This makes quick, controlled movements nearly impossible, which can really drive you up a wall if you don't slow down and take your time when making moves you can't undo. There's also a few glitches elsewhere; for example, don't press the [spacebar] while the characters are teleporting out at the end of a level.
Still, that's easy to overlook in an otherwise great game. Go play it and decide for yourself whether this game deserves the tagline "The Ultimate Monster-Maze Puzzle Adventure". My opinion? It probably does.