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Rhythm is gonna get you

Product: Kotomon | Publisher: Monstars Inc | Format: iPhone | Genre: Music/ Rhythm | Players: 1 | File size: 40.2MB | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Kotomon iPhone, thumbnail 1
Kotomon is weird. Sure, you'd expect a little idiosyncrasy from Monstars - a team made up of talent from Q Entertainment, home of left-field rhythm darlings Lumines and Child of Eden - but Kotomon is something else entirely.

It's an initially inscrutable mix of free-wheeling exploration, combo-based high score shooting, and Pikmin-style critter wrangling that, with a little experimentation, slowly starts to click into place.

Essentially, your task is to guide an ever-expanding menagerie of creatures across undulating landscapes and to the safety of the campfire at the end of each stage.

Pocket rocket

Your route is frequently blocked, however, by hostile monsters all happily dancing to the beat of the game's incessant rhythm. Thankfully, though, your collection of creatures - which can be expanded by hatching eggs you'll find on your travels - double up as weapons of mass destruction.

Pick them up, take aim, and lob them in the general direction of your assailants, and they'll go screaming off into the distance, wiping out rows of enemies in rapid succession and building your score combo as they go.

Different creatures possess different characteristics - some might dawdle behind you but fire off at breathless speeds, while others keep up with ease but prove unpredictable in battle. In theory, the trick to completing each level is to find the perfect mix of monsters for the task at hand.

Trouble is, there's little discernible difference in the effectiveness of your monster arsenal when you're out on the field. And what already-limited depth the game has pretty much evaporates as soon as it's apparent that any creature can get the job done.

Two left feet

There's some attempt on the part of the developer to make things trickier later on, as more aggressive enemies and environmental hazards are introduced. But, they only serve to highlight the game's clumsy control setup and tight-fisted one-hit kill mechanism, which frustrates more than it encourages strategic thinking.

That's not to say Kotomon doesn't have it's charms. Its low-level challenge and free-spirited exploration actually complements Kotomon's whimsical presentation quite effectively, with the expansive starlit vistas and enduring rhythms making for a surprisingly cathartic, aimlessly relaxing form of procrastination.

Sadly, that spell is broken the second Kotomon slips back into its all-too-frequent moments of frustration. The result is a fascinating, if fundamentally flawed, first outing for Monstars. Ultimately, Kotomon might have the beat, but it just can't muster the moves.
Reviewer photo
Matt Wales | 23 May 2012
An utterly unique if disappointingly shallow exploration-based shooter
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