The Munchables Review

Manchabkes

Alrighty, I’ve got several unopened titles, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Dishonored, Red Dead Redemption, The second and third Professor Laytons, Resident Evil 4, Okami, the Golden Sun trilogy.  Hmm… nice backlog, but I’m gonna play this Wii game I got for $6, okay?  My playing habits truly know no laws!

The Munchables Review
Release Date: 26/5/2009
Platforms: Wii
Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher:  Namco Bandai

Jumping the gun a bit, the best way to describe The Munchables is that it is kinda like Pac Man mixed with a Katamari title.  If you replace rolling up rubbish with eating fruit and veggie men.  Taking place on an oh so cleverly planet named Star Ving, you play as one of two disembodied heads who would love to do nothing more than devour everything in sight.  With one being a piranha looking chap for the boys, and another a pink dog for the girls.  Thankfully, their planet is invaded by a bunch of loitering aliens, and they get to indulge in the greatest gluttony trip of their little lives, evolving their appearance as they increase their size.  All while collecting magical “orbs” that look like doo-doo.

The game is remarkably simple.  You see baddies small enough to eat, you run up and swallow them whole.  You see baddies bigger than you, you use a dash move to make them a bunch of little guys while avoiding attacks.  No real penalty for getting hit, you just lose 10% of your points.  Just mash the jump button and you’re back in to eat more cabbage people.  WIth the only major hazard being the bomb men.  Who serve the role of an enemy for you to murmur at when things go awry.  Do this fast enough and get a combo for more points, or just stay and look for collectables so you can get many fancy hats.  Serving as the point where the game earns my love because I can wear both a top hat and a pink turd hat on something that looks like a “in-training” level Digimon.

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It is simple in every regard, being a title that could have easily been made into a genesis game if you tossed away the 3D graphics.  Or even an 80’s arcade title due to how the main goal is, “There are a bunch of tasty looking creatures who are smaller than you, go eat them quickly by mashing A!”  And in that respect, I have a strong affection towards the title.  Sure, it recycles enemy designs with little alterations.  And the worlds are what one would expect, grass, desert, water, sky, haunted house, cake, and lava with a bit of ice until the designers forgot about it.  Oh, and a space world that’s a three part boss rush, because I think this game was made in 14 months.

Each of the worlds only have two normal stages, one where you’re tiny, and one where you’re less tiny.  Both of which are able to feel distinct from each other, while maintaining the same general look.  And a boss battle that takes less than 90 seconds if you know what you are doing.  Which you probably would, seeing as how the main bosses are all based on three main patterns, and spread out between seven.  With the final boss being more or less a mismatch of the first three.  There is not much challenge to be had, if the idea of there being no death was not made abundantly clear.  Instead, the challenge comes from not getting hit, and getting the glorious S ranks, most of which I got on my first run through the 24 stages.  Even when you do beat the main title, and unlock a series of time trials, in which the stages are inverted horizontally.  There is not much challenge, assuming you don’t get lost and get a B rank.

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Not that I would have assumed a lofty challenge from this game, although I would have assumed some more clever writing.  Would it really forsake your E rating to have called them “Magical Doo-Doos” as opposed to orbs?  You called a boss Big Choco and Big Fishie for crying out loud, that name sucks!  Broco Lee at least is a pun!  Is it really that hard to come up with names like Mecha-ranha and Lord Fudgington?  I thought them up in 15 seconds!  However, looking at the credits, it claims that some sort of program did most of the translation, which is just lazy!  I know this is minor, but I hate seeing anything silly be accompanied by laziness.  When three modestly funny chaps could come up with a funnier script for this game in an afternoon, seeing as how I doubt there’s more than ten pages worth.  The main plot is basically Megaman for crying out loud!

Instead, the charm of The Munchables comes from its presentation.  The majority of the game is a bubbly romp through a colorful world that tries to keep the stages each feeling distinct, when you are pretty much doing the same thing.  Which, for the most part, it succeeds in.  At least until the nonlinear areas pop their heads in, which are confusing due to the lack of a map or camera control.  Still, I am rather fond of the actual design style, and the graphics themselves do keep up a decent enough bar, namely that they keep on looking smooth.

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As for the music, it is remarkably catchy.  With a decent amount of tracks that all work well when looped and match the bright and cheery tone throughout.  As it kept me in the mindset of plowing through everything like an atomic fire truck due to just how gosh darn energizing it is!   And that blasted victory theme will probably be stuck in my head for a week.  Along with the sound effects that kept my attention with the title until I did next to everything in it, minus finding a single baddie.  Which took about 12 hours, a pretty decent feat for a game that you can find for $5 if you look hard enough.

The Munchables is pretty much the game equivalent of a snack food.  It’s not exactly great in big doses, but very compelling to just binge on.  However, instead of having the side effect of being bad for you, it has one of being a decent amount repetitious, and having some dry dialog.  I am tempted to say that the game is colorful, energetic, and just plain old fun, leaving it at that.  All of which I believe, but I think that I must place an asterisk next to that statement.

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Even at a $30 launch price, the game was overpriced, and really makes me wonder why it is on a console, when the gaming equivalent of sugar is better on the go with either iOS or handhelds.  As a $10 handheld title, the game would be wonderful, but being strapped to a console and oddly needing an extended controller, it is just pretty darn good.  Yet, I paid $6 for it, so that bumps it up, because that is kind of an issue I don’t have a proper work around for.  Now to wash this kiddie stuff out with Metro 2033, because contrast rocks!

Great! (15/20)
An impressive product, but won’t always astound due to a fair number of flaws that are difficult to ignore.  Still worth your cash and a few hours of your time.

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