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Grumpy Monkey [Review Jam #3]

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#1 the ch8t

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 11:39 PM

Grumpy Monkey

By Mooseknuckle




We’ve all gone to the zoo before, and we’ve all visited the monkey cage. The monkeys always look so lonely, and we often wonder what they could be thinking. We also wonder if there’s an awesome app to explain this to us. Well, you can stop wondering, because MooseKnuckle’s “Grumpy Monkey” does just that.


In this game you play as a monkey who, after being exposed to toxic ooze and escaping his zoo, has used helium balloons to float to the top of a skyscraper, where he watches countless “scallywags” pass by on the streets below. But he does not merely watch. The Grumpy Monkey is equipped with a variety of zany projectiles, including water balloons and bananas, to throw down upon the unknowing passersby.


As you may have guessed, frantic gameplay ensues. Not only do you have to attack the scallywags, but you also must manage your water level and balloon count. If you run out of either, you lose the game. In this way, Grumpy Monkey combines fast, arcade-like action with tycoon- style management. The two are integrated incredibly well. For example, filling each water balloon with more water makes its area of effect larger, but also uses more of your precious H2O. The gameplay is also hilarious. Watching the scallywags scurry back and forth and get soaked thrills me.


Additionally the game is very difficult. Although a randomized game, it progresses through levels, and many events occur every five levels.

However, I was only able to reach level five once. Additionally, I never encountered the “poo-flinging” mechanism that was the main focus of the trailer for this game, presumably because of my relatively small amount of progression. In this way, the difficulty works against the game’s playability. Another thing that made this game hard has to do with the “guide” for throwing. In the first to levels of the game, you are given a string of dots that indicate where your projectile will land (shown below). In the third level, however, this is removed. While I understand the developers point in trying to make the game increasingly hard, when the guide disappeared I became instantly horrible at this game. Since the game relies heavily on “Combos” (hitting scallywags with every balloon you throw), my progress declined quickly after the second level. This made it less encouraging to play again when I finished a game. Despite this, there is a plethora of hats for your monkey to wear that you can unlock through specific achievements, and this encouraged me to keep trying again, even when I failed initially.




The art of this game is what truly makes it shine. It has a fun, sketchy look and you can tell that the developer spent a lot of time on this. Furthermore, this developer really pulled off the visual style. Often games will have graphics that don’t have a consistent sort of look, but Grumpy Monkey’s style does not change from image to image. The art of the game also matches the fun, lighthearted tone of the gameplay, which is something that many games struggle to do.


One category that Grumpy Monkey falls short in is audio. The title screen has some nice, catchy music, but during gameplay there is none. There is a bunch of fun sound effects, and although the sound effects matched the game’s art style very well, these sounds without music sounded a bit strange. I found myself lowering my audio after being assailed by monkey grunts for several minutes. The music that is in the game matches the tone very well, however and the addition to music during the main game would add a lot.


After gameplay, art, and audio, the fourth major part of any game, in my opinion, is style. Style, while not as important as the other three, is a measure of how well the other three parts worked together, as well as how the game makes you feel. The style of Grumpy Monkey to me is a bit wishy-washy. On one hand, the game is very difficult, and I want to play it over and over again to beat it. On the other hand, however, the gameplay is rather slow and often feels more like a casual game. Additionally, the fun art that the developer did so well with makes the game seem more lighthearted. While playing the game, I often wonder if I’m supposed to be intensely strategizing my next move or merely throwing balloons in every direction. The developer claims in the game’s description that “Grumpy Monkey is a blend of fun and easy game play, with a deep level for the hardcore gamer,” but I can’t help but feel that the game would benefit from choosing one or the other.


Overall, Grumpy Monkey is a really fun game, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a cool new game for their phone. It’s fairly original and is a fresh break from the Temple Run and Minecraft clones that fill today’s app market. Its gameplay will keep you hooked for a long time, although its lighthearted style makes it more of a “sitting at the bus stop passing time” game.

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#2 chance


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Posted 20 December 2013 - 01:58 PM

Nice review.  I enjoyed reading this because I've been meaning to try this game -- just haven't got around to it yet.   But your review convinces me I should try it soon.


Your writing style is fluid and easy to read, and the review was well organized.  I like reviews that begin with a thorough explanation of the gameplay, without introducing too much opinion.  That comes later, and you took this approach.


I also thought the review was nicely balanced, with the right mix of praise and constructive criticism.  You gave the author some good ideas for improvement without scaring away any potential players -- and that's important.


I'll probably download and play this game on my tablet later today.  I'm curious to see if my assessment is similar to yours.

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#3 johnandbuddy


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Posted 20 December 2013 - 08:25 PM

Thanks for that fantastic review The Ch8t! It is so cool to finally get an objective review of my game from someone that has no connection to me and has no prior knowledge about the game. Up until it has been friends and family mostly just saying, "Wow", "Awesome", "Great JOB!", etc. Your feed back was awesome.

I appreciate the kind words, but the criticism is what I really love! The difficulty aspect was one that I battled with for months and months. More balloons, more water, slower people, higher spawn rate, etc. I was trying to make a harder game, because I think the mobile market is over saturated with easy games. But I wanted it to have an approachable fun art style, because I feel like most hardcore games have a certain look. I wanted to break conformity, and possibly bring the casual gamer into a harder game without them knowing it :)

The aiming bar is something that I was not sure on how to tackle. It helps out a lot so I needed to included it at the start. I did not want to give it to people though. So I figured I would have a hat give the player the ability to have it indefinitely. But I am assuming you never put on the "Noob Hat." That brings me to the other problem I ran into, how to inform the player. I started with a rolling tut, but people couldn't read the info and play, so then I switch to a Tut Screen that paused the game play, but that just  slowed down the game play way too much and annoyed the player. So I settled on a information screen that is tucked away in the menus, and as you come across something new a blue "information balloon" goes across the screen. But I have found that no one really goes into that screen. I just can not win!  :turned: 

But anyways, try out the Noob Hat and let me know if you think that fixes the difficulty problem. Fun Fact: when I was a few months into developing I didn't have any aiming line and people had such a crazy hard time playing, but because I was so used to it it was no big deal. About a week before I went to PAX East to show off the game I added the aim line, and boy it was like night and day. Moral of the story, play test your games with people. You will learn so much!

Oh and the Poop part. So I was using that as marketing material because I felt like a monkey throwing Poop was a real attention grabber  :woot: But in truth I always intended it to be a hidden gem that would make the player jump for joy when they figured it out. But alas trying to get noticed was more powerful than trying to had the poo. But since you did such an amazing job of reviewing the game I will give you a hint if you have a few bananas, you have all it takes to make monkey poo :) (I also tell the player how to do it when they unlock the "Pro Tips" in the information menu. (Oh another tip is to use lots of bananas and poop(once you figure out how to go potty) that is how you really rack up the points!) 

The audio was always a bothersome area for me. I started with city background sounds but it was a little overbearing. So I planed on making another song but I made the main menu song and that took more time than I anticipated. I just had to come to a point where I let it go. This is my first ever programming/ game project ever so it was more of a learning experience. After about a year of fine tuning I had to just let my baby go :ermm:  There is only so much one man can do! lol. especially with a 9-5 in the way. 100 hour work weeks started to take a toll. And so I released Grumpy Monkey. But I do want to do a few updates and maybe some content additions. Game play music is on the list!


Thank you so much for the review. It was awesome to hear your thoughts. And your input will make the game better.

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#4 Oracizan


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Posted 28 December 2013 - 01:12 AM

You hit all of the right points: Graphics, audio, gameplay, and other aspects of the game that I like to know about before I start playing it. What I especially appreciate about your review, though, is your masterful analysis of the game's strengths and weaknesses. I always like a more in-depth discussion of gaming, and I feel like your part about the easy gameplay vs depth for the hardcore made a lot of sense. I hope you continue to review games, because I think you're good at it. Well done.
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