With line-drawing as established an app formula as match-3, it’s nice when one comes on the scene that doesn’t make me want to cry from the pain of bland mimicry. The abundantly titled Monkeys in Space: Escape to Banana Base Alpha stays true to the simple hook of path management. Polished to a sparkling sheen the addictive gameplay is made impossibly better by the addition of monkeys.
As in life, monkeys come in two colors, red and yellow, with two bases of corresponding color. You must direct the monkeys to the appropriate station without letting them collide with any other monkeys. The primary difference between Monkeys in Space and the likes of Flight Control and Harbor Master is that you can’t use one of my favorite line drawing tactics – the time-killing circle. Apparently, when monkeys are in space they can only travel in straight lines as directed by tractor beams. This demands far greater vigilance than other line drawers, particularly as the bases you’re trying to get the monkeys to are constantly in motion – and often in proximity to one another.
Chains, or linking monkeys of like color together, is the title’s other twist. If monkeys are chained they won’t harm each other when they come into contact. Additionally, chaining monkeys and bringing them into their respective bases adds one point for each subsequent monkey. For example, a chain of three monkeys nets you six points versus the three you would get for bringing them into the base separately. In case this really intrigues you, let’s hear for divergent series: 1+2+3+4+…
These two primary gameplay elements are at their simplest in the Deep Space level, but once you’ve mastered that you can change things up in Asteroids of Planetary Chaos. The former is definitely the most challenging level. Throwing orbiting asteroids into the mix will quickly make monkey meat of the little guys if your attention slips for even a moment. Everyone knows asteroids are fatal to monkeys. In Planetary Chaos, a planet replete with gravitational pull is introduced. Far from being as mercilessly difficult as Asteroids, I liked the added variable and strategy-altering twist of developing a large chain within the pull of the planet’s gravity while sending monkeys of the opposite color to their base.
Occasionally the tractor beam lines and chaining conspired against me. It can get frustrating for point whores like me that a monkey I was trying to chain to another one across the base just got pulled into the base, sans bonus points. Larger chains mean more points and yes, increased danger, but where’s the thrill in unchained monkeys? If you are the slow-and-steady gameplay type, you can play that way, but I shun you.
Throw in some achievements and leader boards for all that monkey rescue and you have an addictive, playful addition to a genre that must by now be its very own branch of the app store. Most admirably, Monkeys in Space doesn’t add fluff to a successful equation. At only .99, if you’re looking for another test for your line managing skills than Monkeys in Space is a slick little title just begging for your attention. If, however, you’re sated by the likes of Flight Control I just can’t blame you.
Review copy provided by developer.