The underlying gameplay is simplistic enough to fit the micro-game service's ethos, while the production values feel whole-heartedly Playstation. An important release.
The build-up to Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess startled us in a number of ways. For the first-time, it truly felt like there was an impending buzz, a hunger if you will for a Playstation Mini. Which is unusual because the Playstation Minis service has been somewhat of a slow-burner since its launch last year. The concept's always been great but, a few notable exceptions aside, the service has struggled to find its Doodle Jump.
And it's interesting that the Doodle Jump comparison should so naturally arise, because the games are similar in both impact and flavour. Playing as a camp vampire named Duke, you wake bleary-eyed having spent the night dreaming of your Princess. But, upon discovering the one-time waiter's been kidnapped from his lair, Duke puts 2 and 2 together and comes up with 12: "Monsters stole my Princess," he declares. "Probably."
Monsters' gameplay defines everything about the Minis ethos. Let us give you the pitch: you jump on platforms and progress vertically in chase of the Monster who, yes, probably stole your princess. The key - landing on each platform initiates a combo. Every platform you subsequently land on that's higher than the last increases your combo. Simple right? That's the magic. But it's still challenging, especially when you couple in the fact that your overall aim is to double jump into the escaping monster and take the little blighter down. To get the high scores you need to be agile, accurate and cunning.
Thankfully Duke's a pretty athletic guy, as you'll note watching him backflip and double jump across the game's five stages. Monsters looks fantastic, with some great retro artwork bringing the whole thing to life. Classical musical arrangements drive the experience, complimenting the game's aesthetic perfectly. The game's literally brimming with personality, and it's therefore a bit of a shame that the main campaign is so short. With just five stages and five monsters to beat, it's a little heart-wrenching to see the agonisingly concise campaign draw to a conclusion in under 15 minutes.
Thankfully, Monsters includes plenty beyond its story mode to keep you playing. Each stage has a medal attached to it, which rewards the highest combos. There's also a score-attack mode which has remixes of the original five levels increasing in difficulty. The scrap-book rounds out the package, and rewards your in-game achievements with comical background dialogue and artwork. We'd be lying if we told you Monsters was going to keep you playing for several hours - but it will occupy you enough to see you through several tedious train journeys and for a Mini that's enough.
Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess is an important game because its brilliant. And for that reason it should force more people to take notice of the service Sony's been a little too quiet about. In Monsters, Sony's found Minis' poster child.