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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Eidos Interactive
Developed By: Backbone Entertainment
Genre: Battle
Players: 1-2
Rated: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Up)
Release Date: November 4, 2008
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Monster Lab...Monster Lab…Monster Lab…What can you say about this title that hasn’t been seen within other games released on the Nintendo Wii console. Not saying that this title isn’t worth the play through, which is far from the truth, it just seems like I have experienced this game before. To put this title into perspective, think of Pokémon meets A Nightmare Before Christmas. This combination alone makes this title a unique experience, which will stand out from the in-depth roster of quirky Nintendo Wii titles. Within Monster Lab, you take on the role of a mad scientist out to create his own unique breed of monster, which can be used in battle. While it doesn’t seem like there’s much to this title, you will be surprise by its depth of content and modes, which will keep you playing for hours.

The premise of Monster Lab has you joining the Mad Science Alliance, an organization dedicated to “politically incorrect scientific experiments” in hopes of defeating hordes of monsters that are running amuck within Uncanny Valley. In order to battle these monsters, you must build your own creatures from different ingredients you will discover throughout the game. To help explain the events leading up to you joining the alliance, there are several cinemas that help flesh out the background of the alliance and why you are assembling your army. However, before doing battle against the monsters within Uncanny Valley, you must master the three sciences--mechanical, biological, and alchemical—in order to successfully create monsters that will do your bidding.

Because you are creating your own monsters, Monster Lab is all about experimenting. After mastering the three sciences and building your very own creatures, your creation is off to explore Uncanny Valley to discover more ingredients, while vanquishing any monster that gets in your way. For the most part, this title is very linear, only allowing you travel along preset paths. Each area you explore is uniquely designed, offering distinct experiences along the way. If you forget what to do next, you can simply consult your quest log, which will give you tips on your next mission. I do have to say that load times that occur before and after a battle are longer that I thought they would be, however considering this title was designed for kids, the timeframe is nothing that will hinder their enjoyment of the game.

When it comes to battling one of the monsters within Uncanny Valley, all the action takes place within an arena. Operating on a turn-based system of combat, you and the opposing creature take turns delivering damage to one another. Though these battles are relatively easy; as long as you continue to upgrade your creatures; there is a bit of strategy to each fight. To win a battle, you need to destroy your opponent’s torso. While simple in itself, it’s not the only way to defeat your opponent. You can also have a little fun by destroying each and every limb, following it up with knocking off its head. With every attack you do, your creature looses a bit of energy. So during a battle, you may have to take a turn to heal your creature before attacking again. When not in battle, you can also heal your creatures by doing various field repairs, which consist of completing short minigames.

For the most part, the controls within Monster Lab are very solid. Whether using the Wiimote or the Nunchuk, the controls are very responsive and accurate. I did, however, run into a couple of minigames that required me to shake the Wiimote a certain way, which proved to be a bit more difficult than I anticipated. While not hard to get use to the controls as you progress through the game, you have to be mindful of completing each and every minigames to your best of your abilities simply because they do have an effect on the resulting monster part.

The production values are quite high in Monster Lab. The graphics are very pleasing, offering a colorful and artistic presentation that’s distinct to every area you explore. The cinematics that are utilize throughout the game are well put together, giving bits and pieces of the story here and there, while also showcasing some humorous situations involving the cast of characters. Even the battles are fun to watch because you know you'll always end the fight with a bone-crunching finish. As far as the audio goes, there are various ambient noises and sound effects, which enhance the atmosphere surrounding certain areas…i.e. the towns and cemetery. The musical score isn’t the masterpiece that you expect from a action adventure and/or role playing title, but definitely fits the tone of the game and the battles you partake within.

Next to the kooky gameplay, customization is the heart and soul of Monster Lab. Though I don’t know the exact number, I can tell you there are thousands upon thousands of possibilities, when it comes to creating your creatures. The more ingredients you collect, the broader spectrum you have to creating a unique monster, while also upgrading already created creatures. However, once you have completed the game, you are still able to collect different ingredients within the game to enhance your creatures for when you take them online to battle your friends and/or random stranger. When looking at the online experience, your gaming experience changes completely. Your opponents could utilize very unique and powerful creatures, which can give you a tough battle, or a simplistic creature, but the strategy behind it being used is unique. All in all, whether online or offline, the engaging experience continues non-stop (unless you turn off the game).

For those kids, even adult gamers who are looking for a game where they can collect, build, experiment and battle, this is a definite must have on your holiday shopping list. Though up against stiff competition this holiday season with the likes of Animal Crossing: City Folk and MySims Kingdom, Monster Lab is a gaming experience that will be enjoyed by all, no matter what the age.


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