Munch Time Serves Up Cute Platform Puzzler That Leaves You Craving for More

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Platformer, Puzzle

The iTunes ecosphere is still very much a mobile device at heart with an environment designed with the casual gamer in mind.  That’s one reason why most of the successful games for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad have been the cute pick-up-and-play variety (e.g. Angry Birds, Cut the Rope).  Munch Time by Gamistry is a hybrid platform puzzler that seemingly fits in that mold decked out with an adorable character, easy-to-use controls, and inviting environments.  About the only thing holding it back currently is the short content, but what is there should have the masses hungry for more.

Designed to appeal to the lizard lovers in all of us, the main character is Munch, a color-changing chameleon on the hunt for his lunch which by the way is a tasty slug.  The hunt through the 42 levels has Munch swinging through gardens full of obstacles.  Using tongue may sound objectionable, but using simple touch controls, gamers will navigate Munch using his tongue to reach the most obscure places.  Visually, Munch Time is vibrantly colored with a lighthearted art style nicely complemented by a lively audio track.

Munch is an acrobat which requires strong, yet intuitive controls.  The control mechanic is simple: tap wherever you want Munch to go.  Of course, this can involve maneuvering small areas next to bottomless or thorn-filled pits and there are certain things to keep in mind.  Munch’s movements are more or less limited to swinging using his tongue and scampering along the ground so planning ahead is a key to success.  In general, the touch controls are responsive and accurately register touches which can’t be taken for granted with these types of games.

Flowers are the main sticking point, if you will, for Munch.  Tapping on a flower will latch him to it, and tapping on others allows Munch to move from place to place.  The hitch is that different flowers have different effects on little Munch.  Other flowers periodically bloom and close and others turn in to cannons that can shoot him a great distance.  The other thing to keep in mind is that once Munch has latched onto a flower and then unlatches, that flower is no longer useable.

While Munch is a chameleon when it comes to using his tongue, he’s really kind of a second rate one in the color change department.  Because flowers come in a variety of colors, Munch must change color according to the flower before he can latch onto it.  To help with that, he relies on eating different color flies which presto-chango transforms him into another brightly colored lizard.

Along the way to reaching his food, Munch likes to collect stars for that narcissist personality of his.  Players have to opportunity to earn a maximum of 3 stars in each level which means clearing the screen of all stars.  While the game doesn’t have a timer, points are always awarded for how quickly a level is completed.

Munch Time does have a sticky quality to it which can be attributed to the cuteness factor that comes through in the gameplay.  Munch is really one acrobatic lizard so swinging from flower to another requires a bit of hand-eye coordination and well-timed release points.  In most cases, Munch will swing from flower to flower which by itself requires some coordination.  Other flowers will have Munch doing loops until another flower is tapped to release him.  Where the devs do a nice job is in the controls.  The levels themselves are not overly difficult, and could even be easy for some.   There is a certain difficulty that comes from coordinating movements, producing the right amount of momentum and releasing at the right moment.  A star is often just out of reach because Munch doesn’t have enough energy behind him even if all the moves are well thought out.

Other times, tapping at the wrong time can mean the difference between reaching a platform and having Munch as a shish-kabob.  As you progress through the levels, more and more flowers will bloom and close which adds a level of difficulty since only open flowers are latchable.  The game does allow players to be creative in how they approach puzzles so that more than one solution is possible and doesn’t require using every flower to complete a level.  Also, while Munch is athletic, you find out pretty quickly that he has no glide to his game whatsoever.  Unlatch him too soon, and he falls like a stone.

Aside from the degree of difficulty, another minor issue is the lack of screen resizing or dragging which becomes more apparent in the later levels.  Typically, the early levels are small and entirely viewable so planning moves is relatively easy.  As the playing fields expand in later levels, the view is limited with players unable to scroll or drag the screen to view those areas.

Where Munch struggles is in the content which currently is rather short.  As mentioned, the levels aren’t overly difficult so most players should be able to complete the 42 levels that are there in less than 2 hours.  Depending on skill level, there is a degree of replay value in a trying to attain the 3-star rating for each level.  The game also has GameCenter achievements which is a plus.

Munch Time is a fun platform puzzler with a cute charm to it.  Intuitive controls and not overly difficult gameplay should draw wide appeal with casual gamers.  Well-timed moves and coordination add a certain degree of challenging play that most will enjoy.  While the current content is a bit short (more is on the way), what is there right now provides a strong foundation for those looking to add new to their iTunes game library.   At the least, Munch Time will whet your appetite for more.

Albie Meter:  4 Stars (cute and engaging gameplay with intuitive touch controls; level designs and vibrant colors should appeal to the casual gamer; content is on the short side with more levels and worlds on the way; degree of difficulty with the current levels may be easy for some with a certain degree of replayability; lite version is available)


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